The Pacific Fishery Management Council finalized recommendations for the 2020 ocean salmon season recently. Forecasts for Columbia basin hatchery Coho Salmon abundance are very poor this year. Recreational Coho quotas were reduced from what was available in 2019. (

Coho that has returned to fresh water. (Courtesy of NOAA)

It hasn’t always been this way

The State of Oregon in February 1995 considered listing Coho, sometimes called Silvers, as a threatened or endangered species. At that time, findings did not justify the listing for either State or Federal designations.

In 1998, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) authorized the first selective hatchery Coho (fin-clipped) fisheries. These selective fisheries allowed limited, but successful, targeted Coho salmon fisheries to resume the development of Coho.

By 2011, small scale non-selective Coho seasons opened along the Central Coast in September. Oregon Coastal Natural (OCN) Coho had made a strong recovery.

This September season proven to be an effective management option because it targeted abundant OCN Coho and limited fishery impacts on other Coho populations of concern.

Fast forward to 2020

These September seasons continue to be very popular with the angling public. ODFW created a great snapshot for Coho and Chinook salmon limitations and seasons in three general areas along the Oregon Coast. Download a copy of ‘2020 Recreational Ocean Salmon Season’ one-page map at:


In the ocean, Coho and Chinook salmon can look very similar. Anglers must correctly identify the species of salmon being caught in order to follow regulations. Restrictions, such as legal lengths and seasons, often vary based on the species.

Anglers who incorrectly identify their catch may, and be in conflict with regulations, could have their fish confiscated and pay a fine.

Avoid identification problems

Coho have a distinct banding pattern on their lower jaw that ODFW considers as the single best way to identify them. There are dark bands on the inside and outside of the gum line and a white gum line in the middle. The back border can be very narrow.

Other distinctive markings include spots on the upper lobe of their tails. The sides of the Coho also become red when they return to freshwater. Their backs, heads, and fins will become dark greenish color.

Coho are one of five species of Pacific salmon

Coho spawn in freshwater, yet spend a great deal of their lives in the ocean. Spawning and juvenile rearing usually occurs in tributary streams or lakes that contain a lot of small gravel. In-stream structures, such as large and small woody debris, and tree-lined banks attract Coho. These structures can help control water temperature and provide protection from predators.

The juvenile smolts migrate to the ocean in the spring of their second year. Some males, known individually as a “Jack” return to the freshwater. The number of jacks returning is a fairly accurate abundance predictor for the fall. A two-year-old Coho may be more than two feet long and weigh eight pounds.

Heavy Eaters

During the next 16-20 months, Coho feed heavily in offshore waters. Their diet includes small fish such as herring, sandlance, anchovies, and sardines. Sometimes it also includes juvenile pink and chum salmon and sablefish. Some Coho will overwinter in-land in streams and lakes.

Coho return in the late summer or fall as a 3- or 4-year old to spawn in their natal streams. All Coho salmon die after spawning. Adults may reach 25 pounds or more, and rarely exceeding 15 pounds.

Human Interface

Coho salmon are high in protein and excellent table fare. Indigenous people have revered Coho as a food staple and symbol of life and sustenance.

Ocean and climate, habitat loss, and degraded water quality changes impact Coho populations. State and Federal agencies carefully monitor fish stocks to prevent over fishing, and promote restoration and conservation efforts.

References and additional information:
–2020 Oregon Sportfishing Regulations” booklet
–ODFW has several online articles (see
–National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a very thorough page on Coho (see

There is a nest nearby. I can’t see it, but I know it is tucked high in the tall Douglas-fir overlooking the river.  

Photo from Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife

Most Bald Eagle nests are within one-half mile of a body of water. After all fish is one of their favorite foods. The water, in this case, is a coastal shoreline and the Coquille River. Bald Eagles will also nest near bays, lakes, farm ponds, especially if they can find large trees, an unobstructed view of the water, and few humans.

Their shadows smoothly slide across the grass. Today they hunt.

Bald Eagles will hunt over large areas soaring up to 10,000 feet. In addition to fish, they will also take other animals such as birds, turtles, and mammals (like rabbits and rodents). They are not particularly fond of mammals, but will take them or mammal carrions.

Carrion, particularly in the winter, is frequently scavenged. They are considered to be an opportunistic predator meaning that they hunt when necessary and scavenge carrion when possible.

Every once in a while, they fly back to the nest clutching a large and noticeably heavy fish. Makes a weird shadow. Scares the little birds.

These large raptors are scary. They can sport a wingspan of up to 8 feet! Their body is just a few inches short of a yard. Adult birds can weigh upwards of 14 lbs. As with many birds, the females are larger than the males.

Bald Eagles will hunt other birds (such as geese and gulls). They are known to harass other eagles and Ospreys in an attempt to steal food from them. They are also known to occasionally steal food from other mammals and occasionally humans.

Big birds need big nests.

Bald Eagles build some of the largest nests of any bird. The size will depend on the supporting tree but are often 5-6 feet in diameter and 2-4 feet tall. The nest can weigh upwards of a ton! The largest recorded Bald Eagle nest was found in St. Petersburg, Florida. It measured nearly 9 ½ feet in diameter and just over 20 feet tall.

Building a nest is serious business and can take up to three months to build. These nests may be used over many years with additional materials being added each year. Sometimes ground nests, on cliff sides may be built.

One glance and you know what the little birds see.

Feathers of the adult Bald Eagle are quite distinctive with the white head and tail, brown body, with yellow beak, eyes, and feet. The distinctive color appears when the bird reaches four to five years of age. Both sexes have similar plumages.

Bald Eagles live a long time.

The oldest recorded wild bird, killed by a car in 2015, was at least 38 years old. Birds in captivity are known to live even longer.

Want to know more?

The Bald Eagle is one of the most studied North American birds and is the only sea-eagle found throughout North America. To learn more, visit the following references:
–Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, My ODFW “Raptors” (
–All About Birds, The Cornell Lab (…)
–Oregon Wild (
–USDI, Fish and Wildlife Service “Bald Eagle” (

Attack of the Giant Green Anemone!

Anemones living in caves are not as bright green as those living in sunnier areas.

This could be a somewhat believable title for a cheesy horror movie. After all, Giant Green Anemones are carnivorous. Not to worry! The sting is harmless to humans.

These beautiful flower-shaped creatures feed on small fish, newly molted crabs, sea urchins, detached mussels, and bits of marine plants. Some fish have developed protection against the anemone’s sting by covering themselves with mucus.

Little Giants

Even though Giant Green Anemones carry the name ‘Giant’ most only measure between seven and 12-inches.

They live a solitary life, and sometimes congregate in small groups (less than 14). These small groups create what looks to be a beautiful underwater floral arrangement. They will change color depending on the amount of light they receive. Different types of anemones will have other colors.

A Deadly Crown

Giant Green Anemones sport an oval crown of six or more rows of tentacles. These tentacles have stinging cells that help protect the anemone from predators. The tentacles also stun prey and help pull the prey into the anemone’s mouth.

Predators include seastars, snails, sea spiders, and fish. Some predators feed on the tentacles and others feed on the column.

Finding Them

Giant Green Anemones stay in the same location most of their lives. They can slowly walk around and swim to escape predators or when detached. These little giants are found in intertidal zones from Alaska south potentially as far as Panama.

Intertidal zones are areas that are above the water level during low tide. Anemones prefer areas where water is present most of the day such as tidepools and relatively shallow harbors.

Low tide will sometimes expose Anemones clinging to pilings and rocks, or even on the beach. When exposed, the anemone will ‘droop’ or close up into its green and brown stem while waiting for the incoming tide.

The fragile, yet harsh Intertidal zones are a challenging place to live but does provide some predation protection. Water conditions can be challenging. While the tide is regular, the shore may not pool the water. The water may be salty one day and diluted by fresh rain the next, and hard wave action can carry one out to sea. Still, many species, like the Giant Green Anemone, thrive there.

Amazing Factoid: A compound from the Giant Green Anemone is used by the pharmaceutical industry to create a beneficial heart stimulant for humans.

–Wikipedia Anthopleura xanthogrammica and Intertidal zones (
–About Giant Green Anemone, Monterey Bay Aquarium (