Helicopter Fishing (cont.)
The catch depends on where you helicopter fish. In the Pacific Northwest to Alaska, one popular fish for helicopter fishermen is coho salmon (Oncorhychus kisutch), also known as silver salmon. Coho have dark metallic blue or greenish backs with silver sides and a light belly, with small black spots on the back and upper lobe of the tail. Adults may measure more than 2 feet in length and weigh up to 36 pounds. After beginning their lives in freshwater streams and rivers, they migrate to the ocean and then return to their birthplace to spawn and die.
Another popular catch for helicopter fishermen is the steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). These majestic fish can grow more than 55 pounds in weight and nearly 4 feet in length. They're dark olive in color, shading to silvery-white on the underside with a heavily speckled body and a pink to red stripe running along their sides. Steelheads hatch in gravel-bottomed, fast-flowing streams. Some stay in freshwater all their lives, while others migrate to the ocean and then return periodically to freshwater to breed. (Unlike salmon, though steelheads can spawn more than once.)
Steelheads are an unusual species because they develop differently, depending upon their environment. The ocean-goers develop a more pointed head and a more silvery color and usually grow to be much bigger than the steelheads who remain in the streams. Steelheads are found along the entire Pacific coast of the U.S. and Canada, and in inland streams and rivers.
WHY YOU SHOULD THROW IT BACK
The purpose of helicopter fishing is for you to experience wild habitats that otherwise might be inaccessible to all but the hardiest, most agile fishermen. In exchange for that privilege, the least you can do is help preserve the fish populations there. Some helicopter fishing outfits require catch-and-release as standard practice.