The Bella Coola Harbour while busy this time of year, it's busy with a mixture of private and pleasure boats and commercial fishing boats. It wasn't always that way, it used to be predominately a harbour for commercial fishing boats and a few tugs associated with logging. Bella Coola and the surrounding inlets has a history of commercial fishery going back over 100 years. There has been a small fleet of commercial gillnets based in Bella Coola for a long time. Sometimes the actual number of boats fishing during the openings are much more than the local fleet, all depending on what is happening elsewhere on the rest of the coast. These days the salmon fishery is much less all over the coast, but there is still a small fishery in the inlets here. It starts in early June with weekly openings for Chinook salmon which are probably the finest wild Chinook salmon on the coast by the way. They have a unique and special taste because they are caught by the fleet after they have stopped feeding as they enter the long inlets and it starts to change the body chemistry when they are not actively feeding anymore. About this coming week the fishermen start to switch to smaller nets and begin to target Chum salmon.
Its a nervous week coming up for most of the fishermen, because this will be the week that tells the story about the strength of the chum run--a good showing this coming week bodes well for the rest of the run. Unfortunately the run last year was poor and affected by floods we had four and five years ago, which may mean the run this year could be weaker because some of the returning fish this year will also be the older fish which came from the spawners in those flood years. Time will tell - the chum salmon is the bread and butter fish for the remaining commercial gillnet fishermen in Bella Coola. Grizzly
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