Are Coho Better
Than Sea runs?
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 10 lbs test is good unless you want to
lose your fish. Basically a medium set up is what you will see for
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
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
coho and searuns
It is a over cast morning about 4:30 the light on the horizon is
getting brighter and bright I back my boet down the ramp and launch
it. I head out from the shilshoal bay boat ramp turning south from
the breakers and slow come to full speed towards the south sound.
heading for the west side of the sound and south towards tacoma.
About 45 mintues later I arrive in a small bay with a dropoff from 10
to 40ft from a sandy to a rocky bottom. spotting a large bait fish
school i grab my 7 1/2 ft ultra light trout rod and hook on a medium
dick nite spoon with a 15 inch 6 pound test leader atteched to a
swivle that goes to the 8 pound test main line. I let out about 20
feet or line then attach the line to my down rigger and let it down
about 15 feet and start trolling in an erratic line from one side of
the bay to the other I am in 25 feet of water. I keep the boat going
at about 1/2 a mile per hour but jumping it back and forth from 1/2
and 3/4 of a mph. with in 5 minutes I get my first stike and my ultra
light doubles over hard and i cut the motor and switch on my
downrigger and grab my rod and begin fighting the fish. It feel solid
and I fight it for a about 5 minutes till I get a good look at it.
its chrome silver resident coho about 3 pounds. I net the fish and
take a few pictures then relase it. I do this 4 more times. its now
around 5:30am and I notice a bunch of of small herring jumping closer
to show and I move in grab a small generic bucktail gold and silver
spinner and start casting into the balls of bait. third cast I get a
good solid stike and begin to fight the fish. i fight it for about 10
mintues it takes aboput 30 yards of line on me on the last run.
Finally I get tit to the boat its a very bright and large searun
coastal cutthroat like the one on my page background. I snap a few
pictures of the fish then reklease it carfully.
now that will be the only searun that I catch all day. but it will be
totally worth it.
I could talk about the pros and cons of resident cohc vs the pros and
cons of Searun cutthroats. but lets really look at why they are both
special. the first thing that makes them so special is that you can
fish them both at the same time in most cases. the drop off I was on
is a transition zone and is perfect for both spieces. the spoon and
spinners I used where interchangeable and could have been used for
either one. the rod set up never changed. they both can be found in
water 10 to 40 deep and rocky or grass or sandy bottoms are gereat
places for them to hunt. they are both magestic fish no matter how
big or small they are. the resident rarely reaches 10 pounds more
around 2 to 5 pounds but are very strong and acrobatic. the searun
barely ever reaches anything over 6 pounds 1 to 3 pounds is big for
them. both will fight to the end and on ultra light trout rods they
are great. there really is no need to compare either fish.
they can also be caught in very small 4 inch plug cutt herring
trolled as well.
wel there will be more coming to this section soon .
Shut up and Fish!!!!!