Written by Bob Melrose.
Glancing at this year's Skeena Tyee Index for September 17, 2010 for Coho.
So far the numbers are down roughly 25 to 30% from the decade average and less than half of the 2009 returns. Earlier DFO estimates were for equal or slightly better than last season. However, so far, that is not the case. Estimates, as with the Sockeye, can be just a guessing game. But, like all fishing, the best time to fish is whenever you can. When those leaves start to turn you know your time is limited so enjoy while you can.
Love fishing for those fighting Coho's and especially the big Northerns? As the salmon species go Coho are probably the most difficult to land. You may hook them, but you will seldom land every one. Somersaults, flips, rolling on the line are all part of a Coho's DNA. It is critical to use premium quality hooks and to keep them sticky sharp. It is wise to replace the factory hooks with suitable Gamakatsu's or one of the other quality brands.
Keeping those hooks sharp is the next step and I find the DR. SLICK diamond paddle the best and easiest to use. It has a coarse and a fine side and will do all but halibut hooks and works especially well with flies. If you can't find a DR. SLICK then sharpeners by EZE-LAP or LUHR JENSEN will do the trick.
Many methods are productive in Coho. Pulling plugs as many do on the Kitimat is very successful. Hot Shots and Flatfish are the preferred brand.
A lot of anglers in the past five years have turned on to fishing jigs and there are a number of good models. Jigs can be twitched along the bottom but because you are on the bottom you can lose a lot of tackle. Jigs fished below a float can be very effective and much easier on the pocketbook. Jigs are usually set 25 cm. (12 inches) above the bottom.
Spoon fishing is probably the most popular and what most anglers are most familiar with. Gibbs Koho spoons are the runaway favourite in blue, silver, green or copper. Many of the more popular Steelhead spoons will also pick up Coho.
Spinners have always been good for Coho. The Vibrax is the most used. The Vibrax is attached with a Siwash hook directly to the body of the Vibrax but many guides find that cutting the factory hook off and replacing with a split ring and a premium Siwash hook results in more landed Coho. Try it and see if your land percentage goes up. Mepps, Silvex, Roostertails, Sneaks, and Colorado spinners will also do the job.
Steelhead anglers pick up a lot of Coho as they seem to like some of the same flies. Blue is always the starting point for Coho and seems to be the colour of choice. Most of the better quality flies now come with premium hooks but you will have to touch up those flies after each bottom hookup.
I hate to see fish yarded up on the beach and bounced over the rocks when we have barbless regulations to help them survive. We lose many fish when they are bounced over the rocks. Better to carry a good net along and land them in the water. That way if you lose them they can continue unharmed.
Good luck in hooking one of those big Northerns.