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Well, lightning has struck again and we have a coho season on the Methow River. The problem is that I have no idea how to fish for them! This is a small river, say 40' to 70' wide with deep-ish runs, a few deep holes and lot's of riffles. I've been told that these coho are not aggressive like they are in Alaska and nobody seems to have developed any techniques for catching them consistently. Would it be much different than dredging intruders for winter steelhead? Bigger......smaller flies? Colors? Stripping? Any and all input is welcome and appreciated.

CT
 

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Not familar with the Methow. But I'm guessing that coho are coho. On VI rivers, early morning or cloudy days (eg low light) are usually best. They are a funny fish. I would fish with steelhead tackle, either scandi/shagit with various sink tips and 4-9 foot leaders. Good holding water for coho is quite different from good steelhead water (assuming good water temps for the fish). Best water is usually pools, backwaters (even big back eddies). Slow runs are great, and you may get some fish near the head end, but lots will sit where the water is slower than what might be regarded as a good speed for steelhead. For flies, clousers in different colours, your favourite small streamers, and a sleeper; gold-bobied muddlers. Try colours that work on that river, but don't get stuck on one fly if you know you are covering fish. Keep changing! Coho seem to like flies on the drop so always worth trying a strip with a good pause type of retrieve with the clousers (or something else with some weight at the head). Also worth noting that coho, being a fish that tends to spawn (and rear) in small tributary streams love overhead cover. That could be depth, logs, stumps, shade, etc. This should get you off to a good start. Other thing to look for, especially in "interior" streams are areas around springs that cool water down to a coho's comfort zone. Comfortable temperatures are very important. Tight Lines!

Sorry: Retrieve will vary but usually you are looking for agressive ones first so try a strip or strip/pause. If fish are rolling then start switching flies and changing retrieves. Usually, retrieve speed will be dictated by the water you are fishing and of course, the fish. May be highly variable from day to day!
 

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My only experience fly fishing for Coho has been in Alaska, so I don't have a lot of specifics to add. My guess would be that Coho everywhere are MUCH more aggressive right out of the salt, and tend to clam up fairly quickly once in fresh water. One thing that I would definitely second is the part about changing flies, and even presentation a lot.

My limited experiences have been that they can be quite fickle after a bit, and that generally smaller flies tend to do a bit better once they have started to get a bit less aggressive or have been hammered by a lot of other anglers. Then again I've had exactly the opposite happen to; low clear water spooky fish not biting, smaller sparser flies still being avoided... toss out something flashy and a bit bigger on a faster swing and bang! Fish on!

I found Cutthroat's comment about holding water very interesting, as I haven't experienced it that way at all on the smaller streams I've fished up in Alaska. We fished almost completely in water that you would think of as good steelhead holding water, and Coho and steelhead both seem to hang out in many of those runs. In no way do I claim to know as much about Coho as Cutthroat seems too, but perhaps depending on the water types that are available it may be worth checking into some of your classic steelie runs too?
If you do have some positive results I'd be very curious to know what you find there, best of luck
JB
 

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Jason made a very good point. My error. Don't pass by anything that looks like good holding water. I've taken a fair number of coho from what might be described as good steelhead runs, especially those with a bit of depth to them. If the coho are moving, you could find them almost anywhere. I just found a few more in those other places that are not really classic steelhead fly water. I would love to hear how you do. They are really interesting fish in their own right.
 

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seaterspey
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I would just leave them alone and let the eggs feed the hungry Steelies.

Never liked fishing for salmon. Note that i have not fished for Atlantic salmon yet, I'm sure that's different.
 

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I would just leave them alone and let the eggs feed the hungry Steelies.

Never liked fishing for salmon. Note that i have not fished for Atlantic salmon yet, I'm sure that's different.
Fishing for salmon can vary tremendously depending on when and where. Swinging small streams for red hot Coho fresh out of the salt is can be a tremendous angling experience. I will say that some of the coho I have caught easily rivaled any steelhead in terms of ferocious take, and chaotic and acrobatic fight. This last August, for whatever reason, we had some really really strong feisty Coho, and our hookup to hand ratio was lower than any other fishing I have ever done. It really depends on when and where though...

Coho are a pretty cool fish, and I only wish that we had some decent Coho fisheries nearer to us.
JB
 

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seaterspey
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I moved from Michigan and salmon fishing was like a national holiday. Problem was that it brought out everyone and I mean everyone.

I do agree with you that if you can time it just right when they first come in they are a fish to admire. I guess I always timed it bad and the rivers were packed with all sorts and the fish were less than desirable. I never liked the time table I had to keep on the salmon it was just to much time and it never seemed to work out.

I would love to go after some Atlantic Salmon that I know I would love.
 

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Tom,

I have not fished for interior coho. I would expect them to be tougher than tide-water fresh coho. Once coho have been out of tide-water a short while they are far less snappy, but they do go on the snap at irregular intervals. Beats me why.

I think a useful approach for the Methow would be similar to approaching a coastal stream. Be prepared to change up and offer many different choices. I would have a couple pink WOGS because a surface chase and crush by a coho is so exciting. And even a stale Methow coho might do it; you never know. Then have a few colorful streamers. And bead head marabou streamers. Coho are very responsive to jig fishing, so fish the marabou like a crappie jig. They usually hit on the drop. And when they ignore every standard fly, which is often, they very well might hit a small offering stripped rather slowly. A size 8 or 10 yellow or purple wolley worm has been known to take sluggish coho. Another popular small fly is a gold tinsel body with one turn of yellow hackle and one turn of orange hackle; sparse and small, maybe even size 12.

Good fishing and good luck.

Sg
 

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Never liked fishing for salmon. Note that i have not fished for Atlantic salmon yet, I'm sure that's different.
If you are trying to catch fish which have been under angling pressure it can be a no fun thing. If you are fishing where they are all pooled up I don't enjoy that. However, if the fish are traveling throughout a river and you are swinging a fly in a run where they are either transient or holding they can offer some exciting fishing. Deep down under the salmon skin I am a trout fisherman. I would much swing my flies for rainbows searching for that whopper that seems to come unhooked almost every year. I enjoy the rainbows because to a certain extent they are more predictable for me. Most of my silver salmon catches are bi-catch while I'm searching for trout.

Ard
 

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Retreive
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Tom,

I have not fished for interior coho. I would expect them to be tougher than tide-water fresh coho. Once coho have been out of tide-water a short while they are far less snappy, but they do go on the snap at irregular intervals. Beats me why.

I think a useful approach for the Methow would be similar to approaching a coastal stream. Be prepared to change up and offer many different choices. I would have a couple pink WOGS because a surface chase and crush by a coho is so exciting. And even a stale Methow coho might do it; you never know. Then have a few colorful streamers. And bead head marabou streamers. Coho are very responsive to jig fishing, so fish the marabou like a crappie jig. They usually hit on the drop. And when they ignore every standard fly, which is often, they very well might hit a small offering stripped rather slowly. A size 8 or 10 yellow or purple wolley worm has been known to take sluggish coho. Another popular small fly is a gold tinsel body with one turn of yellow hackle and one turn of orange hackle; sparse and small, maybe even size 12.

Good fishing and good luck.

Sg
What more does anybody need? How very true and generous. And unselfish more than anything else. On behalf of the fraternity, THANK YOU !!!
 

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midwestern coho seem more agressive than midwestern kings when you can find them and get a fly to them... they respond to gentle stripping when you know they are around but aren't hooking up..... and also smack stuff higher in the water column. Clear intermediate lines work pretty good. flies that incorporate black bunny with pink, lime green colors have worked. Nothing fancy required. Our coho seldom get over 4 lbs. however they are fun and grabby even when they have been in a while. speaking of which they are in right now probably gonna check around southern lake michigan tribs.
 
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