In focus: Fishing without barriers at the Cole family pond


About 42 years ago, the late Noel Cole began allowing people who might not otherwise get the opportunity to go fishing to drop a line at the Cole family property in Lewis County.

That tradition continues today as his son Greg Cole continues the Noel Cole Fish and Wildlife Project, providing barrier-free fishing to many who otherwise would be unable to experience the beloved outdoor activity.

Trout Unlimited and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife have helped with the project from the beginning. This year, the family pond was stocked with trout from the Satsop Springs Fish Hatchery and the Lake Aberdeen Fish Hatchery.

“It is an amazing feeling just to see the look on the people’s faces when they catch a fish when you weigh them, measure them, clean them and put the fish in a bag,” Greg Cole said. “It’s a lot of work, and it’s very heartening.”

Each year, the pond is stocked for this week of fishing, which occurred from June 3 to 8 this year.

Greg, the family and volunteers then feed the fish a couple of times a day and chase off any bird predators, such as herons and eagles.

In a 2019 interview with The Chronicle, Noel Cole, who died in 2021, said he started raising steelhead in the pond sometime around 1982. A couple years later, he had a conversation with a woman who said the special needs students at W.F. West were having some trouble getting into certain outdoor activities. The WDFW would release fish into ponds at Lewis and Clark State Park, but it would always be earlier in the season than the students would be able to go. A bulk of the fish would be caught before the students could get there.

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