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Salmon Country: A History of the Pacific Salmon

Lindsay Pellow

so this book is gold. If you're a naturalist, angler, field biologist, student, or just interested in salmon, Salmon Country belongs in your longing hands. Busch is a pro at educating readers about salmon. Now this may seem a nebulous goal, and you think, 'This sounds too large a purpose,' but think once more because the book effortlessly, understandably, and thoroughly covers salmon biology, threats and management issues, and it suggests - to the delight of anglers - effective tackle and the best stream habitat in which to find dinner. Honestly, this book is useful for everyone. Busch's tone and language make it a fast and easy read. Salmon Country is so comprehensive and clear that it should be a staple on the bookshelf of every university fisheries student.

Salmon Country book cover In a way, this book lets readers enjoy salmon while they're still frolicking and gnashing each other in the streams. You could read Salmon Country then go out and see some salmon and impress anyone within earshot. You could identify the exact species (using the handy colour photographs); you could bedazzle family members with migratory, mating, and biological matters; you could enchant potential lovers with historical contexts and interspecies differences; and, if anyone is still hanging out with you by this point, you can enrage them by relating past and present government and industry (canning, commercial fishing, etc.) policies and practices.

Busch's reliable and objective statistics (commercial and sport catches, among others) paint a disquieting picture of salmon swimming up a human-dug gorge of peril. But is this book angry or guilt-inducing? No. Neither is it an 'environmental' piece. Busche keeps his neutrality and easy voice while making his point: salmon are interesting and complex, let me tell you about them. Obviously, the reader needs to understand some technical terms and some biology. Really, who knows what "alevin" are? Who can even say it? Busch can say "alevin" and he can tell you what it means in everyday language so you then understand why constructing dams isn't such a slick idea for our slithery friends.

This book is a quick read. The language is straight forward and the material is varied and interesting. Did you know that some salmon eat jellyfish? And, Chum in the Yukon River travel 5,120 kilometres to reach their spawning gravels. Reading this book is like talking to someone who is really smart, but not just smart, someone who knows how to talk.

Salmon Country provides a complete picture of salmon and the surrounding issues of industry and conservation. Busch also suggests feasible, obvious (yet elusive to those in positions of influence) ways to improve salmon numbers. So, I'll be seeing you out on the streams next fall. We can talk salmon.

published by key porter books
ISBN 1-55263-162-1

Lindsay Pellow is a 4th year Fisheries Student at the University of Northern British Columbia.

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