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Gear Fishing

An October day of fishing for Nooksack river Coho salmon

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The river had risen slightly overnight with the rain, but judging by USGS water flow graphs, and peering through the dark as we drove across the bridge, it appeared low enough for me to still consider it well fishable. Our launch was easy, and the water looked great with several feet of visibility, with just enough cloudiness in the water to give the fish the feeling of protection. Shortly after launching however, we came up on a tributary to the main river that was pumping pure mud. The two rivers meeting looked like a light tea color mixing with a dark chocolate mocha. This was not good. Visibility plummeted to inches after the confluence, and confidence was quickly drained.

Nonetheless, we continued to fish every likely looking piece of water where any self respecting Coho would be found hanging out. To our dismay, it soon appeared that every usual coho haunt was abandoned on this day.

The few fish we saw splash were out in the strong current and were no doubt moving fast upstream. It soon became apparent that most of the fish in the river were riding the mud-train express straight to their upper river spawning grounds. In the end, we have to remember the salmons motivation for pushing upstream; the promise of sex at the end of their journey.


The larger of two Wild Nooksack River coho salmon caught and released.

Never discouraged, we continued to fish the likely looking water, with hopes that we might intercept some moving fish. And that is exactly what happened towards the end of our float. Two consecutive casts brought two bright wild Coho to the side of the boat. Both fish were admired, and released to continue their journey. While the regulations allow catch and keep of wild fish this year on the Nooksack, I have never felt comfortable bonking a wild fish when I know that the stock is struggling. The way I look at it is that wild salmon have to navigate enough obstacles as it is already, between degraded spawning habitat, changing ocean conditions, escaping commercial and tribal nets, and competition from hatchery fish.

With both fish back in the water and moving upstream, we continued our float downstream to the launch and home.

A beautiful day on the water, no doubt.


Photos from earlier this month on the Nooksack River

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One Response to “An October day of fishing for Nooksack river Coho salmon”

  1. The two rivers meeting looked like a light tea color mixing with a dark chocolate mocha.

    Posted by Salmon Fishing Vancouver Island | 12/01/2011, 7:54 am

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