MATT SCHUBERT’S OUTDOORS COLUMN: Coho on final trip up Sol Duc


The Sol Duc summer coho simply can’t wait.

Hordes of the coho began leaping at the behest of their libidos at the Sol Duc Salmon Cascades earlier this month.

That’s about three weeks earlier than normal for the North Olympic Peninsula’s lone summer silver run, in spite of dreadfully low river conditions this summer.

Park biologists counted 574 adults upstream of the Cascades during a snorkel survey Wednesday, according to Sam Brenkman, Olympic National Park’s chief fisheries biologist.

That’s more than double the 247 salmon redds (egg nests) counted by biologists last fall.

Needless to say, it’s a welcome development for fans of fish fornication, or just fish in general.

“It’s great news. This is clearly looking to be a strong run compared to last year,” Brenkman said.

“I think these recent rains are going to trigger some more movement upstream.”

Coho voyeurism

That should make for lots of activity at the Cascades inside Olympic National Park.

The slowly climbing collection of large boulders offer gawkers a glimpse into the gauntlet salmon must run to get their first, and only, chance to make some babies.

It is the final test of a 64-mile journey that begins at the mouth of the Quillayute River and ends just downstream of Sol Duc Falls.

After three years of avoiding nets, hooks, bigger fish, and, of course, a river of poop flowing out of Victoria, the salmon must scale the Cascades to finally reach the promise land.

Courageous coho take turns attempting to negotiate the series of rushing waterfalls. Many come up short the first time around, resulting in a face plant or two into a boulder. But they continue on undeterred.

As the great Huey Lewis once said, “That’s the power of love.”

On a good day one will see dozens of salmon jumping, sometimes as frequently as four or five a minute.

There’s usually handfuls of fish milling about in the pools below the Cascades as well, each gathering the gumption to finally go for it.

Trails take viewers to spots above and below the Cascades, so salmon voyeurs have an ample opportunity to see it all.

“This is an excellent time for the public to view the upstream migration of this unique stock of wild summer coho,” Brenkman said.

“Mid-October, it really slows down and the fish are spawning in October and through the end of November.”

The Cascades are located 28 miles west of Port Angeles.

Head south off of U.S. Highway 101 at milepost 219 into the national park on Sol Duc Hot Springs Road.

Six miles down the road you’ll find the well-marked parking area for the cascades.

Bring your camera, but not your fishing rod; the Cascades are closed to fishing.


Matt Schubert is the outdoors and sports columnist for the Peninsula Daily News. His column regularly appears on Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at