On June 4, 1991, fishermen and residents of the area saw nearly 40 miles of the Upper Sacramento River essentially sterilized, and oddly enough, we were probably lucky it was metam sodium and not something more persistent.
That’s where I grew up. My folks still live in Dunsmuir. My home water is the Upper Sacramento River, the same river cleansed by that spill.
I didn’t really know it before the spill. Sure, I had fished it, but not with the intensity I did later.
It was the summer between my Junior and Senior years in high school and my first experiences with fly fishing were still a few years in the future. We knew something bad had happened, but we didn’t go near the river. It was all a bit scary.
The most amazing thing to me is how the river came back. It came back on its own in its own time. There were no trout planted, no bugs were imported, no plants were brought in. The river just healed itself. It took a few years, but it healed.
It is a promising story. It give me hope that so many of the things we’ve broken might just heal, if we let them.
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