Coho running thru lakes to spawn in inlet creeks

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
Ha! I went lake fishing on Saturday and only caught two trout, both large stocker 'bows. One hardly fought at all, and the other put up a helluva great fight. Fishing was slow.
I hooked into 4 chrome Coho jacks, though, and landed 3 of them, 10" 11.5" and 15". Lost another (my first one) at least 15" long that I thought was a really silver rainbow until I caught the others. They all fought well, like good jack salmon should. The lake (secret) has an outlet creek that flows into a river that eventually flows into the salt.
I've caught small coho rearing in lakes before, but never returning jacks. We have been having a huge return of Coho jacks this year, though. Maybe that explains it.

I'll add pics later, but now I must go surfing.:cool:

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
Here's the fish pics. The first is of the 20"er that didn't fight very hard. It was a weighty slug of a fish on my medium action 8' 4 wt. Had some Fall coloration to it.
The second is the shot of the hard-fighting 'bow that was about 19" and maybe 3 lbs. It was a fat and thick fish, and put up a great fight. It was longer than the pic indicates... note that its tail is curved up along the side of the net bag.
The last shot is the smaller of the Coho jacks that I caught, not quite a 10"er, but fat and frisky.

All fish were caught on a fly tied by Gary Knowels... a simple concoction with a full body of variegated new-age chenille (mint chocolate chip?) with a sparse soft hackle and tail of ?pheasant rump? tied on a #10 straight-eye streamer hook. Sort of a fat-bodied soft hackle with a little bit of sparkle. It was the only fly I needed all day, since it was working!


Those guys are fatties! Glad you did well. I can't quite tell from the picture, but it may be Islander's famed camo Carey or a slight variation featuring different chenille. If I remember correctly I tied it on a size 12 tmc 5236.

Sent from my HTC_Amaze_4G

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
Gary, I think the hook is a size 12 TMC 9395. Looks like a smaller version of the size 10 9395s that I have. Good lake bugger hook! I'll have to pick some up in size 12. The sparkle in the "chocolate mint" new age chenille and the motion of the soft hackle combine to make it look alive in the water.
Thanks Jeff. Can't mention the lake's name, since it is pretty small with hardly any parking near the rough launch. I'd say that 3 rigs, maybe 4 can fit in, after which one must find a wide spot in the narrow logging road to go park, and then walk back to the launch. More importantly, the angler who told me about it requested that I not name it on any internet forums.

I suspect that the 20" trout that didn't fight worth a whit may have already been C&Rd by the likes of Jim Speaker, who had arrived at the same lake the evening before! and camped out in his rig! and fished it during the morning hatch. He was out there chironomid fishing from his 'toon when I finally got on the water just before noon. Said he'd released a biggun earlier in the morning. Perhaps that fish had been C&Rd so many times that it learned to not struggle much, and just let itself be hauled in and released.
I noticed that fish cruising lazily just under the surface and cast Gary's fly in front of it, and gave it a quick strip to tighten up my line. The fish spotted the fly and readily attacked! Then it turned into a dud. At least it took off the skunk, and I'd only been on the lake for a half hour.


Active Member
Nice fatties, like how you put your hand down for comparison. seems the right way to show size of fish. I'm always trying to have some type of object in the pic for comparison. Now all I need is a picture of the fly so I can tie some - HA - or not! :)


Active Member
Jim -
Nice report.

I suspect that the coho are residual fish rather than Jacks. Pretty common for the lakes with anadromous access to have some coho that take residence in the lake as fry during the winter and rather then migrate to the salt the next spring just remain in the lake feeding and eventually maturing a year and half later. The fish picture could be a year from maturity. I see such fish in a number of low land lakes with folks catching them all time in the spring/summer and into the fall. By the time those resident coho reach spawning age they typically are 14 to 19 inches in length and one finds both females and males while nearly all the Jacks are males.


Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
Curt, thanks for the insight. Interesting stuff. I thought 10" was a little short for a jack coho. Even the 11.5" coho seemed short for a jack. The one I netted that was 15" was developing kyped jaws. The other one that released itself near the net was at least 15". Those two seemed more like the right size to be jacks.

I wonder if the shorter coho were ones that just stayed in the lake, and maybe the larger ones were jacks. Whatever the case, I was surprised to hook into four of them.

I've heard reports of jack coho showing up in greater numbers than usual in the Chehalis R system this year, and I suspect that its the same in the Olympic Peninsula and Salish Sea streams.
i catch them occasionally in a certain lake in pierce county, i'm thinking maybe young coho that just stayed in the lake since i've never hooked one larger then about 15" in that small lake.
i catch them occasionally in a certain lake in pierce county, i'm thinking maybe young coho that just stayed in the lake since i've never hooked one larger then about 15" in that small lake.