I floated Marblemount to Rockport on the upper Skagit River on the final day it was open in January, not a single fish.
Pretty decent water conditions too. Nice midspring flows, wasn’t raining.
I probably would have heard the grouse drumming back in the budding cottonwoods if I hadn’t had my head underwater most of the way looking for steelhead and bull trout in their hideouts.
All from the comfort of my office here on the banks of the Duwamish River in Tukwila.
That stretch of the famed Washington salmon and steelhead river is one of a dozen Northwest waters that have now received the street view treatment from an outfit called FishViews.
They’re based in Texas but three of the founders have links to the Seattle area.
Their motto is “Deliver a data-driven experience — that tells the stories of our rivers, coasts and shores — for science, conservation and recreation.”
Basically, they strap a 360-degree camera in the middle of a raft, jab another one underneath the water and push off. Gauges record water temperatures, dissolved oxygen levels, pH and other things.
Afterwards they do a bunch of stitching and techy stuff with all the images and data, then post the above- and below-water “tour” on their website.
At right on the tour screen is a Google map that highlights the trip in blue; a red arrow shows you where you are on that stretch.
You can play the float as a video, but if you want to see what lurketh below, you’ll need to click on the tiny little screen at bottom left, then hit the forward arrow on the main image to advance from frame to frame.
If there’s a drawback, it’s that you only see one line down the river, directly below the raft, which may or may not always be the fishy spot.
If you’ve got a virtual reality headset, there’s a mode for that, and perhaps it has a more seamless way to see the bottom.
FishViews will probably prove to be a pretty powerful tool for biologists and folks of that nature, but if you’re an angler like me, giddyup, this is pretty damned cool!!!
Along with the upper Skagit, so far FishViews has done portions of the North Fork Stillaguamish, South Fork Stillaguamish, Main Stilly, Elwha, South Fork Hoh, Snoqualmie, Duwamish and lower Willamette Rivers, as well as Lakes Washington, Green and Union, plus the nearshore waters of Shilshole Bay and the Ballard Locks and Discovery Park.
Hours and hours and hours of entertainment right there, fellow fish fiends!