Bibliography Background About KRIS

Big River History: Fish Stories

My Boyhood in Mendocino
By James Peirsol

Mendocino Historical Society Review, Vol. VII, No. 1.

Camping on Big River reflected subsistence hunting and fishing of the times: Naturally you expected to do a little living off the land, so you always took along fishing tackle, a 22 rifle or even a 30-30. And you always packed plenty of 5-10 gallon lard pails to hold the huckleberries, blackberries, raspberries and hazel nuts you would gather in the woods surrounding camp…..

The kids spent most of their time at the swimming hole down at a bend in the river 100 yards away. If they couldn’t find them there, they were probably checking their figure-four traps or out hunting squirrels or cottontail rabbits, or maybe fly fishing for brook trout and steelheads.

I remember the log-strewn beach where, on warm summer evenings, the gang would gather for crabbing parties. I remember the huge bonfires we built and the fresh caught crabs we tossed in the ten-gallon cans filled with boiling salt water. I remember the clams we dug in the tidal sands at the river’s edge— the abalones we pried from the ocean rocks at low tide ---- the times trolling for salmon in the early morning on Big River.

Bridges, Huckleberries and Robin Stew: The Depression and the New Deal in Mendocino County. 
By Robert Wynn. 

Mendocino Historical Society Review Vol XIV, winter-spring 1989-1990.

According to Isabel Sandbothe, salmon and abalone were much more plentiful in the 1930s than they are today. Sandy Sandbothe remembers there was good crabbing in Big River, and crab feeds at the beach were common. As with deer, not all fish put on the table were legal. A man caught netting fish on the Ten Mile River was fined $250. Unable to pay, he spent 125 days in jail, fed by the county.

Big River and Its Singing Fish, Lore of the Coast, Fact or Fiction
By Eugenia Jamison Cox, Northern Crown, 1905.
Reprinted by Mendocino Historical Society, July 1967.

"Singing fish, a noise known by that name, was several years ago and is no doubt today, a distinctive, strangely unique feature of Big River. A peculiar sound may be heard on the river, near the hour on midnight in the month of September, near the boom (top of tide)."

The author and friends rowed a boat to the top of tide in the Big River and heard "A broken conversation began, the fish forgotten, when a whizzing, a whirring sound from everywhere near the surface, not very loud, came as a shock and surprise. We were in the center of a circle of low buzzing and sizzing. The sound was not the least like an accented lullaby of frogs or the accents of winged insects. It was an unaccented, low monotonous whir. Something like the cutting of saws in large mills could sound if smothered underground. Once wound up, nothing disturbed it. After listening to it for some time the investigation ended.


People / Pioneers


Fish and Fishing

Infrastructure - railroads, boats, bridges, etc.

Events - floods, storms, shipwrecks, etc

Logging / Mills - operations and events at mills, logging activities

Also see, Big River Was Dammed (excerpts) and Fish stories from the past