About this blog

This blog is all about fly fishing for native trout. On it I cover trip reports, fishing tactics, conservation, the latest news about native trout species and much more. This site provides a companion to my web page nativetroutflyfishing.com.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Resident Coho Time

It is that time of the year, when the streams and lakes here in Washington are closing down for the season but fortunately the Puget Sound remains open. The end of the trout season heralds in the beginning of the winter's resident coho season. These coho opt out of the long oceanic journey that their migratory brethren under take and instead remain in the estuarine waters of the Puget Sound throughout their life cycle. For local fly fisherman, this means that they are available throughout much of the year.

For the last several weeks I had to cut back on my fishing time a bit in order to study for the GRE, so that I can hopefully get into grad school. I got the test out of the way last week and have been itching to get back out to chase some fish around. Monday the weather was typical for western Washington, cloudy and rainy but with only a light breeze, and there was a good outgoing tide that slacked off right around dark... Perfect conditions for fly fishing. I headed out to an old standby beach for resident coho to try my luck.

When I arrived at the beach, I found that I had it to myself like usual, so I started walking down toward a point were the fish usually hang out. On the way down to the point I saw a fish jump a few hundred feet down the beach, than another and another. As resident coho generally don't stay in one spot for very long, I knew that if I wanted to have any chance of catching any of these fish I had to get to them fast, so I did the only reasonable thing and ran for it. The fish were still jumping when I got to the spot so I placed myself slightly in front of their path and started casting like a mad man. One the first cast a fish slammed my marabou clouser and I quickly brought it in, turned it loose and started casting again. Next cast my fly barely had time to hit the water and another coho attacked it. In regular coho form, the second that the fish felt the hook he was straight out of the water and doing his best to throw my fly, but it was not to be so and after a short fight I brought him in.

A typical resident coho
The beach

After this fish, it was over and the school had moved on either in search of food or more likely due to a group of seals that were lurking about in the area. With the fish gone from this spot I move over to the point and covered the water there, hooking up with another slightly larger resident coho that was kind enough to spit my fly out before I could bring him in. After this the fishing completely died, so I decided head down to another spot that they seem to like to frequent and keep my eyes open for jumpers along the way.

I didn't find any jumpers like I was hoping along the way but when I got to the spot I did catch a small Chinook salmon. At this point the tide was slacking off, and it seemed that the resident coho had moved on, but instead of throwing in the towel I decided I hiked down the beach about a mile to another point that gets the current moving even when the tide has died down. I spent about a half an hour here and did hook up with one resident but LDR'd him. It was starting to get dark, so I figured I better head toward the trail, but one the way I finally spotted some more jumping fish and it was game on again. Once again, first cast I caught another fish and on the next cast I missed second one, but these fish were on the move so the third cast came up empty. Jumping fish kept giving away the school's position, so I took off down the beach in pursuit. I tried to get in front of the school before stopping to fish again and would get a few casts in at each spot that I stopped before the school moved past me and I had to relocate again. I picked up another fish this way and lost several others, before I finally lost the school again.

It seemed that the fishing was going to stay good for some time but the light was failing so I put on the head lamp that I keep in my vest and changed my fly out for a glow in the dark one and got back to fishing. The sun was completely down, when the resident coho returned and liked what they saw with my glow in the dark fly and I pulled one out of the group before they vanished into the darkness. With the resident coho gone, I started fishing my way down the beach hoping to find them again, but instead found another small Chinook before the weather convinced me that it was finally time to call it a night.

When I called Blake up and gave him a report of how I had done, his reply was "what are you doing tomorrow," and my reply was "fishing you in?"

Of course he was, but when Tuesday rolled around the wind was absolutely howling and we almost opted to just tie some flies instead, but somehow convinced ourselves that our spot would be sheltered from the wind. It wasn't. Me, Blake and his friend Mark arrived at the beach to find the sound looking more like the ocean with whitecaps, rollers and a crashing surf. However the fish were still there so we got to it.

Blake and Mark working the beach

Within a couple of minutes Blake had caught his first fish, and I stationed myself off of the point a saw a fish jump in between a couple of waves and made a "cast" to it. It is probably stretching it a bit to call it casting under these conditions, I had to face shore and make a short forward cast and than a high back cast and let the wind do what it would with my line. This was definitely not the most elegant cast that I have ever made, but the fish didn't care and smashed my fly. I quickly released this fish and lobbed my fly back out and immediately had another fish on. This was a much larger resident at around 17" and put on a fine show of acrobatics before I finally landed it. What struck me about this fish wasn't it's length but its girth, the pig of a fish was proportioned like a football and must have been a good 5 or 6" from the back to the belly. After releasing the fish, I watched the rest of the school jumping towards Blake amid the waves. Just like clockwork once they got to him, he caught two fish than they were gone.

An average resident coho

After this I got one more resident, and missed another before the wind got even stronger and it became risky to wade much deeper than my knees as a huge sneaker wave would come in an soak anyone who wasn't paying enough attention. With the sound looking like it was more suited for surfing than fly fishing, it was time to head home.
Me casting amid the surf


D said...

Hey I'm new to this blogging thing and nice site. I would like to try for cohos this Thanksgiving break. Any tips, flies, and beaches you cold point me to? Thanks in advance, I'm a teen pursuing a new addiction in flyfishing lol.

Gary said...

I would suggest that you go to the website www.washingtonflyfishing.com and run a search on the forums for information on resident coho, there is a ton of great stuff on there. Some good beaches included Golden Gardens and Lincoln Park in Seattle, and in the Tacoma area Narrows Park and Titlow are both good. Marabou clousers in size 6 or 8 tan and white just about always work. Watch for jumping /rising fish and target them if possible, otherwise look for some sort of structure, like a point or back eddy and don't be afraid to strip to fast. Those little coho are a blast and you should have a great time!!

Fishn Kid said...

Ok thanks alot for the advice. I'll post if I catch anything this weekend. Check out my blog