The silver salmon, also known as "Coho," is a species of anadromous fish in the salmon family, one of several species of Pacific salmon. In North America, coho salmon is a game fish in fresh and salt water from July to December, especially with light fishing tackle. It is one of the most popular sport fish in the Pacific Northwest of the United States and Canada. Its popularity is due in part to the reckless abandon which it frequently displays chasing flies, bait and lures while in saltwater, and the large number of coastal streams it ascends during its spawning runs. Its habit of schooling in relatively shallow water and often near beaches, makes it accessible to anglers on the banks, as well as in boats. Like all Pacific Salmon, Cohos are born in streams where they stay for about a year before heading out to sea. There they stay for one to three years, feeding on small fish like herring, before returning to the stream of their birth for spawning. They are typically the last of the Pacific salmon to enter the rivers in the summer. Cohos average about 6-12 lbs as adults and top out over 30lbs.
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Silvers are mostly targeted by fly fishermen in Alaska. Most of the lodges we represent have great runs of silvers (coho salmon)!
If a fly angler could only choose one rod to fish for cohos, the smart choice would be a 9 foot, fast-action 8-weight. The 8wt is a very versatile rod, and all manner of presentations to all sizes of fish are possible with it. Given the room and conditions, such as a calm day on a wide-open tide flat fishing for small to mid-sized cohos, an angler could get away with fishing a 7-weight, but for the most part, the 8-weight is the tool of choice. Reels for coho should be of the large-arbor variety, with enough capacity to hold 150 yards+ of 20# backing, and should have a smooth, powerful drag system. The best all-around line for coho is any line with an interchangeable tip system, and one that includes everything from full-floating to full-head fast-sinking options. While not totally replacing the practice of individual lines for individual tasks or situations, the tip-system lines provide the ability to switch levels and presentation methods without carrying 4 or 5 additional reels or spare spools.
Fishing stripped streamers and nymphs (pink is the best color) may be the most popular methods of fly-angling for coho, but the most exciting method would surely be topwater fishing. In this technique, floating flies constructed of spun deer hair or foam are "popped" or "chugged" along the surface of the water over schools of fish.
Senior Program Manager
Specializes in Alaska and Canada fishing, and South America fishing and big game programs.
Specializes in South America fishing and shooting departments. Plus, fishing in Mongolia and Canada.