Backyard Salmon Spotting Surprises Winlock Landowners: ‘Oh Crap, They Are Here’


The mighty salmon fights its way home only to ensure the next generation’s prosperity. It’s no wonder the fish have such cultural significance.

When, in November, Winlock resident Darren Soares spotted a dozen coho salmon swimming through his backyard in Olequa Creek, he was awestruck. He’d been made aware of the fish’s presence in that creek through his volunteer involvement with the Lewis County Stream Team. 

“It’s sublime. Kind of weird, too,” said Soares. “In that creek where we have little baby trout in the spring and summer and then they disappear when the rain comes, to see 2-foot, 2-and-a-half-foot salmon swimming through there was pretty unreal.”

As he recalled his experience, Soares had a giddy laugh. Despite the creek abutting his property as long as he’s lived there, he and his neighbors had no idea one could spot spawning salmon through it.

“What it comes down to is most people just don’t know. One, probably don’t even know they do come up in there. And two, don’t know when they’re doing it,” Soares said.

To spot the salmon, he said, the best time is after the first big November rain.

In a sense, Soares’ attention to the backyard salmon is part of a movement; one that revitalized the Lewis County Stream Team in the last two years. 

Bob Russell, a Chehalis resident who owns property in Adna, spotted salmon up Wisner Creek on land he’d intended to develop.

As he told The Chronicle in previous reporting, the sighting turned him into a believer. Now, he’s on the board of the Coastal Salmon Partnership Foundation, which aims to restore salmon habitat and secure funding for projects related to the fish in Western Washington.

A first sighting, Russell said this week, “changes a person’s perspective.”

“I was like, ‘Oh crap. They are here,’” Soares said.

Check out videos of the Olequa Creek salmon with this article at