For a decade, I have had the pleasure of being a seasonal resident of Qualicum Beach, BC. My wife, Laurie, whose Mother was Canadian, and I believe we may have discovered Paradise here at Qualicum Beach.
I love the spring and the fall of the year, because the entire ecosystem seems to be in flux, in transition. The animals are migrating, the plants are transforming, the colors are beautiful and of course, as a photographer, I love the constantly changing weather patterns -- the clouds are ever in motion. Rain, sunshine, rain, sunshine, all in the same day. Those who know my photographic work understand that I abhor a sunny clear day -- Nothing more boring than a blazing blue sky. Give me a storm! Give me "Mother Nature Showing Off."
Well, in the spring of 2011, I was once again blessed by Mother Nature in the form of the Herring Spawn. This spring was like no other ... certainly none that I can remember in my brief personal experience. And I am told by the intrepid fishermen of Vancouver Island that this year's herring spawn was like no other. The weather was unpredictable. The herring were large in terms of biomass (quantity and total weight of fish), but the individual herring were small, the roe was small and marginal for commercial value. Then, add to that the changing of the Japanese appetite for roe -- it seems the younger generation may prefer Big Mac's and junk food to the traditions Japanese fare. Further complicate this year's market with the huge earthquake in Japan, followed by the unprecedented Tsunami, and by the nuclear meltdown. The world is changing and certainly this year's herring spawn was a shocker.
The entire globe seems to be in convulsion. The earth is reforming itself and, perhaps, demonstrating to us humans, who seem to believe that we, with our incessant technology, possess the power to dominate Mother Nature and make her dance to our tune. Well, the way this year is unfolding, I think we arrogant humans may be learning a lesson or two. All over this earth convulsion: earthquakes, hurricanes, tidal waves, wildfires, tornadoes, droughts, floods, famine, avalanches ... you name it, you can find it somewhere on the globe.
May I now invite you to follow along with me in this photo essay as I recount my exciting, unusual, and wonderful experience during March of 2011, as I made photographs with, and of, the intrepid fishermen of Vancouver Island during this extraordinary herring spawn.
At this point, I must inform you that I am no fisherman. I am a photographer, so all of this was new to me. The first thing I learned was that fishing is not a job. It is not a business. Fishing is a Way Of Life -- it is a culture all unto itself. Of course, men and women make a living fishing (at least in some years), but more importantly, these bold and adventuresome men and women are Making A Life. And a fine life, I might add.