Coho or Silver salmon are the most acrobatic of the Pacific salmon, showcasing a marvelous ability to jump and dodge. These salmon hatch in fresh water, spend part of their life feeding in the ocean and then “run” back to their natal rivers to spawn and die. They range from Monterey Bay to the Russian Far East and Hokkaido, Japan, and tend to stay closer to shore during their migration than other salmon species.
Sometimes confused with Chum salmon, Coho have a metallic blue-black back and silver sides and belly. They are smaller than Chinooks and recognizable by their white gums and black tongues. Their fillets are typically vermillion, although not as bright red as Sockeye. Coho are sometimes dubbed the “in-between” salmon: not too big, not too small; fatty but not the fattiest; firm but not the firmest.
Coho spawn from November to January typically in small tributaries and creeks. Drawn by natural forces, the salmon return to the rivers that gave them birth, fighting their way upstream against powerful currents, waterfalls and rapids, determined to spawn. Once home, females lay between 2,500 and 5,000 eggs in the gravel and promptly die. Their carcasses provide food for bears, otters and eagles and return nutrients to the rivers and rainforests for the next generation of salmon. Over months, a salmon embryo develops an eye, hatches into an alevin, which carries a yolk sack for food, and then becomes a free-swimming fry. Juvenile Coho defend their freshwater territories through a series of maneuvers including a complex shimmying dubbed by scientists as the “wig-wag dance”. Cohos remain in fresh water for more than a year and then head seaward in the spring. They spend two years feeding in the North Pacific and then mysteriously find their way home to spawn and continue the cycle of life.
This fishery involves salmon eggs being fertilized and incubated in a hatchery where they develop into juvenile fish and are released into a creek or river. The salmon then swim to the ocean where they grow and mature. Upon return to their natal river to spawn at the end of their life cycle, the salmon are captured in the hatchery for food and to replenish the brood stock for the next generation.
Fish harvesters encircle a large wall of netting around schools of salmon and pull the bottom of the netting closed, like a drawstring purse, to capture the fish.
Hook and Line Troll
This fishery uses hooks, lures and lines, trailed behind vessels at low speed, to catch salmon. Each salmon is individually hooked and hauled aboard by hand.