Alaska Fish & Wildlife News
October 2018

Fishing for Coho Salmon

By Nancy Sisnyak & Ryan Ragan
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Coho salmon, prized for the aggressiveness and aerobatics are highly sought by anglers looking to extend their late-season fishing adventures.

Fall, in Alaska, means fishing for coho (silver) salmon. If you have never fished for coho before, but would like to give it a try, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has just released two videos highlighting wildly different techniques. If you are closer to the ocean fishing for bright coho, like those found in the Anchorage area, give the video, Slip-Bobber Fishing for Coho Salmon a look. If you are heading to the Interior, then How to Fish for Delta Clearwater River Coho Salmon is for you.

Delta Clearwater River

The Delta Clearwater River (DCR) is a spring-fed tributary of the Tanana River, near the community of Delta Junction, Alaska. It sports the largest known coho run in the Yukon Drainage. These fish have travelled more than 1000 miles from the mouth of the Yukon to this, their native spawning stream.

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A large male coho salmon in the Delta Clearwater River.

DCR coho are in full spawning coloration and do not feed, but they will still strike at a lure now and then.

Most anglers practice catch and release on the DCR because the flesh of these coho is a bit on the soft side. Those that do keep their catches, usually smoke the fish. Few eat the coho as fresh dinner fare.

The video features tips on terminal tackle, where to access the river, underwater footage, and drone shots that all come together to tell the complete story. So, sit back and let the How to Fish for Delta Clearwater River Coho Salmon inform and entertain.

For questions on fishing for coho in the Delta Clearwater River, contact the Delta Junction office at 907-895-4632, or the Division of Sport Fish Information Center in Fairbanks at 907-459-7207.

Slip-bobber Fishing for Coho

There are three stocked fisheries in the Anchorage bowl that offer great coho salmon fishing opportunities. Each fishery is stocked annually with coho smolt. These smolt migrate out to saltwater and continue to grow. They return to their natal stream (or the stream they were stocked in) as adults. These returning coho can be targeted using a variety of angling methods including artificial flies and lures. However, one particularly effective method is to target coho using a slip-bobber. When fishing for coho, a slip-bobber is best used with bait (normally cured salmon roe) or jigs. Slip-bobber fishing for coho salmon

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Check it out! ADF&G just released a new “how-to” video about fishing for coho salmon on the Delta Clearwater River.

While coho fishing in the Anchorage Bowl is largely over for the 2018 season, anglers can plan now to target coho at any of the below locations in 2019.

Ship Creek:

Ship Creek is the most popular salmon fishery in Anchorage. In addition to being stocked annually with coho salmon, Ship Creek is also stocked with Chinook (king) salmon. Adult kings typically start to show up in good numbers in Ship Creek in late May to early June. Adult coho typically start showing up in good numbers in Ship Creek around the middle of July. The section open to salmon fishing on Ship Creek extends from the mouth upstream to 100 feet below the Chugach Power Plant Dam.

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Area Management Biologist Brandy Baker releasing a coho salmon caught while producing the video, “How to Fish for Delta Clearwater River Coho Salmon.”

Campbell Creek:

Campbell Creek runs through the heart of Anchorage. A section of Campbell Creek is open to coho fishing from July 14 through September 30. If you’re not familiar with fishing on Campbell Creek, please check the sport fish regulations for detailed information on areas open to fishing for coho.

There is a Youth-Only fishery on Campbell Creek in June that allows youth anglers 15 years of age and younger a chance to fish for king salmon. Campbell Creek remains closed to king salmon fishing outside of the Youth-Only fishery and is closed to fishing for sockeye, chum and pink salmon year-round.

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Bird Creek is a favorite spot for Southcentral anglers to catch coho salmon, destined for their dinner plates. Photo by Ken Marsh

Bird Creek:

Bird Creek is a short drive south of Anchorage. There is a section of Bird Creek that is open to fishing for salmon (other than king salmon) from July 14 to December 31. The coho fishing begins to pick up toward the end of July and fishing will remain good through the month of August. Using a slip-bobber and cured salmon roe or casting a spinner can prove very effective when targeting returning adult coho.

For those with questions on fishing for coho in the Anchorage Bowl, contact the Division of Sport Fish Information Center in Anchorage at 907-267-2218.

Nancy Sisinyak is the Sport Fish Information Officer for Region III and lives in Fairbanks.

Ryan Ragan is a Program Coordinator with the Division of Sport Fish, based in Anchorage. He’s an avid angler, looking to explore Alaska with his family, fishing rod in everyone’s hands.

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