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Coho Are Better Than Sea runs So Ha


As my boat pulls into the bay, it is still slightly dark, which is the best time to fish for Coho. The weather is cool with cloud cover. Coho will go deep if it’s too sunny. The water that I am in is about 50’ deep with an Eelgrass bottom. Coho tend to say right above the Eelgrass and 12” to 100’ below the surface. There are also a couple of sand points, which will almost always hold Coho. These Coho habitats are really easy to find because they are visible. The two last places in any bay is along the shore in less then 6” of water and Tide rips where the currents mix and hold debris.


I choose to use my expensive new 9-weight fly rod. The same rod that I use for steelhead in rivers. This type of rod will do fine. Actually for Coho the rod needs to be a decent rod but not over whelming in price. Most Coho anglers use a shooting tip line with a fast sinking tip. I do as well. A shorter stronger leader of say 20 lb test tapering into a tip of 10lbs test is good unless you want to lose your fish. Basically a medium set up is what you will see for Coho fishing.


Flipping through my fly box I try to match the bait in the water to any of my flies. Coho feed on Amphipods, Herring, shrimp, Candlefish and squid. This makes the easier to catch. Such a wide range of feed makes it easier to fish. Basically anything that resembles what they eat will work. The fact that matters are the retrieves is what counts for getting strikes. I use of two retrieves that are specially designed for the type of fishing I do for Coho. For the long cast there is a long distance Coho cast. A darting retrieve is used. The dart retrieve makes the fly look like a retreating food source. The lob cast is the other one used. This cast is for slow deep spastic retrieves. The retrieve makes the fly look like a dying baitfish. These casts and retrieves can be confusing at time. They do how ever make you strike consistence better for Coho’s. Since the Coho is known to hunt by using their incredible speed it is important that the retrieve is quicker than normal.


By now I have hooked into my first fish and have it at the boat. It is a nice Coho, that probably weighing in at 8 pounds. I will tell you this. The Coho is the second largest Pacific Salmon species next to the Chinook. All anglers prize it. But no other style of fishing prizes the Coho more then that of the Fly angler. These are considered to be a Washington state gem in their own right. Their abundance exceeds that over the Chinook and Sea run Cutts in the sound. Coho can run in the weight range of around 30 pounds but those are ocean fish that leave the sound and feed in the ocean. Most of the fish caught by fly anglers in the sound are resident Coho, which max out at around 15 pounds. That is impressive in size. It is also the reason some many fly anglers prize the Coho. The Coho is also the most acrobatic of the Pacific Salmon and trout. Making spectacular leaps and rolling when hooked. That makes them tougher to land. In the salt water a mature male fish can run you half way into your backing and test the will and strength of an angler. These reasons are way the Coho on most Washington fly anglers list.


What makes fishing tough for Coho is the fact that the better fishing for them is from a boat casting towards the beach. Some people may not have the amenity. Which makes it tougher for them to get access to better Coho grounds. But still the wading angler gets a good share of the action by fishing points and drop offs.


By now I have caught maybe three nice Coho and the bite is over. I start the motor and move out of the bay. I head south towards a special kept secret of mine. A bay that is about 40’ deep and has a 20’depth on the flats. This bay to has points and about 4 or 5 of them. The bay has different kinds of structure. But some of it the same as the Bay I just fished. The depth is similar and there is a tiderip at the entrance to the bay. The difference is the bottom is an oyster bed. Sea runs seem to be attracted to these areas. It’s because they hold a large amount of forage fish. In these bays there are finer point and structure that are harder for an angler to detect. Such as current switches and contours in the bottom which can only be seen with a depth finder. That leaves the shore angler to fend for him self and guess what the bottom is like. But like the bay I just fish there are some of the same structure like a stated before.


Like the Coho, Sea runs eat candlefish, herring, and amphipods. But they also eat insects which means fishing with dry flies is really popular in the saltwater. So when I fish for Sea run Cuts I will start by using a dry fly instead of a wet fly or streamer. So when I flip through my fly box for the correct fly I can use almost any of the same flies I do for Coho. A slightly lighter rod will do. It doesn’t need to be as expensive as the rod one uses for Coho. A 5-6 weight rod will do fine. Since you can fish the surface a floating line will be best. But pretty much the same equipment can be used for Sea runs as you would use for Coho.


This time matching the feed with the correct fly becomes very important. Unlike Coho, Sea runs are picky eaters. So picking the right fly does matter. But it is also just as important to match the retrieve with the fly. As the fly sinks I will jerk it the strip the line quicker then for Coho. Then slow down again making the fly look like a fleeing injured baitfish. But a steady strip does just as good. These minor details make all the difference when fishing for Sea runs, which are harder than fishing for Coho But its worth the hard work and time.


What Sea run Cutts lack in the size department they make up in their fighting ability and their beauty. They are truly the gems of trout in the state of Washington. They may be small but they put up a hell of a fight. They are on the top of most saltwater fly anglers list for those reasons.


As the day has come to an end, I have caught probably 10 fish. Four of them were Coho and 6 of them were sea run cuts. I look back at why I consider these fish to be so different but yet so similar and begin to think why that is. Why hundreds of anglers purse one or the other and why one maybe more popular then the other and I realize that I know that I Consider both of them to be perfect in their own little ways. But I always will have a heart for the Sea run the master of the sound.