Lummi Island Reefnet Festival celebrates ancient fishing techniques this Saturday

Published on Wed, Aug 6, 2014
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Learn about a valuable part of Lummi tradition, and eat some salmon while you’re at it.

Lummi Island will play host to the fifth annual Reefnet Festival on Saturday, August 9. Reefnet fishing is an ancient Pacific Northwest salmon fishing method, and Legoe Bay off Lummi Island is one of only eight places left in the world where this type of fishing is still practiced. The festival is meant to celebrate both this historic form of fishing and Lummi Island culture in general. 

Proceeds from the festival will benefit three educational organizations: the Lummi Island Foundation for Education (LIFE), the Beach Elementary School PTO and the Lummi Island Boys & Girls Club. 

Attendees can purchase tickets to sail out to the reefnet gears to watch the process in action. Fishermen suspend a net between two boats beneath the surface of the water, while spotters perch up high and wait for schools of salmon to pass over. The nets are then sharply snapped up out of the water, and the salmon are deposited into a special tank to let them shed some of the built-up lactic acid deposits they’ve built up, giving the salmon a sweeter flavor. The salmon are then separated from any unwanted species caught in the net, bled and prepared for shipping. 

Visitors can try Lummi Island wild sockeye salmon at the festival, which will also feature a beer and wine garden, arts and crafts vendors and educational displays teaching the history of reefnet fishing in the area. 

The festival will also feature live music from six local artists, including the Dave McAdams Band, Daddy Treetops and the Wailin’ Tomcats, Aranesa Turner, Bridge and Nick Vigarino’s Meantown Blues. The sixth artist, Lummi violinist and storyteller Swil Kanim, will be playing exclusively during the kids hour, which runs from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. 

The Lummi Island Ferry will be running continuously throughout the day to accommodate festivalgoers, shipping out every 20 minutes as opposed to the usual once per hour. The ferry disembarks from Gooseberry Point, and costs $13 round-trip for a car and driver or $7 for non-driving passengers. 

Biking is encouraged as the festival grounds are only 1.5 miles from the ferry landing. Shuttles will also be provided, and ample parking will be available both on the island and the Gooseberry Point ferry station. 

The Reefnet Festival will run from 11 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. For more information on the festivities, visit