Legoe Bay, located just off the western coast of Lummi Island is our home.
History of Legoe Bay
Legoe Bay is named after William Legoe, a logger who lived on the island just eight years before leaving in 1889. It has been the location of reliable broad based salmon fishing since before recorded history. The confluence of tidal currents from Rosario Strait reliably pushes salmon bound for the Fraser River through Legoe Bay every summer.
Salish tribes, most notably the Lummi Tribe, anchored canoes near the shore to catch salmon using simple reefnets. Village Point, the northern tip of Legoe Bay, is named for the summer village they inhabited each year to process the catch.
In the late 1890s eastern businessmen recognized the special geographical advantage Legoe Bay had over other locations to intercept Fraser River salmon (in prime condition), far from their spawning grounds and yet near enough to shore to build canneries for processing. The nature of the location allowed fish traps to be anchored just offshore. Three canneries were built on the island, one of which, Lummi Island (later Carlisle) Packing Company, was at Village Point. Their traps required virtually no labor to harvest the fish which could be loaded onto shallow barges and brought to shore. These vertically integrated corporations set traps all over the bay, pushing out any native reefnets that had existed.
Fish traps are labyrinths, which indiscriminately catch whatever swims into them. Often the canneries could not keep up, and fish were dumped by the thousands, ending up on the beaches to rot. This happened all over Puget Sound, until an initiative was passed in 1935 banning them altogether. The following summer, hundreds of white settlers came to set up reefnet gear to replace the traps. The Lummi tribe that had created the fishery never had a chance to reestablish themselves in Legoe Bay. In 2014 the Lummi nation returned to reefnetting for the first time in more than a century with a youth demonstration program.
Reefnets in Legoe Bay hit their zenith in 1949, when there were more than 70 gears fishing. This gradually tapered down, until the current day where only 8 gears in the bay remain. Lummi Island Wild operates four of the eight.