Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. Not only for rainbow trout but also for Coho Salmon. Coho salmon are one of the most aggressive salmon in the freshwater systems. I will explain a few ways on how to catch them to help you increase your chances of landing salmon in the late fall. Each particular type of fishing works pretty much the same in every river system and depending on the type of water.
Size 3-5 Blue Fox spinners of pretty much every color work very well for hooking up with a coho salmon. It’s a simple method of cast and retrieve with a gear rod, but a few things I do right away after casting makes a huge difference. After your spinner hits the water you need to let it sink for a few seconds to put the spinner in the correct water column. As soon as you do this you should give your rod a little tug right away to start the spinner blade spinning. This will give you full duration of what you lure is actually doing. Most of the time a nice slow retrieve (reeling in) will get the job done. Sometimes depending on certain circumstances you can increase your reel (retrieve rate) to chance up things to offer something a little bit different if a slow retrieve is not working.
Once that spinner stops it’s either one of two things.
1) You just hooked a Coho Salmon, or 2) You are snagged up on something.
Coho hang in many types of water but from my experience they tend to favor slower moving water. You need to be cautious on what the laws of the particular river system are for hook type. Certain rivers during certain times of Coho season regulate a single hook. This hook is a straight hook with the bend called a “Siwash” hook. All Blue Fox spinners come stock with a treble hook (3 hooks) and in the package is an additional single hook (Siwash). This is a simple way of fishing for Coho Salmon if you are lacking skills. Make sure you are not using heavy line so you can cast it a bit of a ways for a longer retrieve.
Another method is bait with a bobber. The most common bait for Coho salmon is using some cured roe (salmon eggs) about 3 feet under a bobber. Simply cast towards the top of the drift so by the time the bait sinks into the perfect line in the water column it is directly in front of you. Bobber fishing is very easy. Most of the time you will be fishing deeper stagnant water doing so. When the bobber goes down under the water that means a Coho has hit your bait. Simply set the hook straight up and keep tension on the rod and reel your prize catch in. Having good cured eggs is very important for this although most cured eggs including store bought eggs were very well.
If you want more of a challenge and want to try a fly rod you will be in for a treat. Coho Salmon hit all types of marabou fly’s mostly called leeches. I prefer articulated leeches which is two sections of colored fur and the hook at the end of the fly. This creates more action on the fly since it wobbles and moves around a lot more. My personal go to for fly color is either chartreuse and or pink and dark purple. I have caught more Coho salmon on dark purple articulated leeches then any other type of fly. Park of it is dependent on whether you are fishing glacier colored (bright blue) water or clear streams.
For more glacier fed stream I try to stick to brighter colored flies so the fish can see the presentation better. Fly rods are definitely more of a challenge but amazing nonetheless. Casting in this method you have a few choices on fishing. You can either cast to the top of the drift (11 o’clock) and let it drift down the stream naturally on its own, keeping your rod tip low or you can cast into slower moving slack water and slowly strip in the line in 1 foot segments to create some action enticing the fish to bite.
Coho season in Alaska is absolutely amazing and it’s happening already for early season on a few local streams. Seeing limits of fish everyday coming from the Bait Shack on Ship Creek coming from completely brand new fishermen and fisherwomen proves the aggressiveness of these fish.
Ship Creek has been an incredible Coho fishery thus far this year with a lot of people limiting out. Either way you decide to fish for this fun salmon species you will almost always catch a fish or two. Usually mixed with the Coho Salmon is Pink Salmon, which creates for a fun time on the river. Coho salmon tend to also run late into the year clear up until January on certain rivers such as the Kenai. This provides for a longer fishing season for the die hards.
Either way you decide to fish you will have fun and almost certainly catch fish!