Coho, or Silver Salmon as they are often called, get their name from their beautiful silver color. A favorite amongst fly anglers, Coho Salmon are well known for both their aggressiveness towards a fly and for their acrobatics once hooked. The size of the salmon vary widely depending upon the individual strains. Coho in the northern regions of Washington state are often about 1/3 size smaller than those in southern Washington. In general, these salmon vary in size from 7 to 20+ pounds, with 10-12 lbs. being average.
Coho spawn in many small coastal streams and the tributaries of larger rivers. They prefer streams with moderate flow and utilize small to medium sized gravel to deposit their eggs. Spawning takes place in the fall and the fry emerge the following spring. The fry spend approximately 18 months in fresh water prior to migrating to the sea.
Coho start gathering in the estuaries in late July and early August and can be targeted in the estuaries during this time. When the fall rains begin to raise the water levels in the streams the salmon take advantage of the higher water and begin their migration up river slightly thereafter. September through December are the prime months to target these fish in fresh water.
Coho can be very aggressive one moment, crashing anything that you put in front of them, and tight lipped the next. It is this interesting phenomenon that makes Coho such a wonderful fish to pursue with a fly rod. Fly color, size, and retrieval rate are important factors in successfully catching these fish. It often pays off to continue to switch any or all of these variables until you are able to hook into fish. Often times, you may catch a number of fish and then the bite turns off you must go through your fly selection again to get back in the zone. Coho will often chase a fly many feet before engulfing it so it pays to have polarized lenses on so you can watch the attack.
Washington State Fresh Water Record
25.27 lbs., Brad Wilson, Quinalt River, 11/11/2001
Washington State Salt Water Record
25.34 lbs., Martin Cooper, Sekiu, 9/28/2001