To the best of my knowledge, landlocked coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) do not occur naturally, though WDFW has at times stocked coho fry in some lowland lakes. Kokanee (O. nerka kennerlyi), the naturally occurring subspecies of the sockeye salmon O. nerka) has been widely stocked in lowland lakes where it is commonly known as the 'silver' Or "silver trout". It occurs naturally in, among others, Lake Washington.
This is a prime example of the confusion generated when common or local names are used to discuss fish. The name "coho" is used interchangeably with "silver". Resident coho (who never leave Puget Sound) are called "resident coho", or "resident silvers" or just "residents", we used to call them "feeder silvers". Chinook salmon (O. tshawaytscha) are also called "kings" and, in Canada, "springs". The resident form, in Puget Sound, is a "blackmouth". Sockeye salmon are also known as "reds" and, on the coast, as "bluebacks". Sea-run cutthroat are known in southwest Washington as "harvest trout" and in some locales as "bluebacks". As you can see, without a fairly intimate knowledge of just what species you're talking about, a lot of fog can be generated.
Preston, thank you as always for shedding light and sharing your vast knowledge. It is a pleasure to read your insightful posts. I look forward to seeing you on a Puget Sound beach soon.
Best regards, Steve
So when people say fishing the salt for silvers, they can mean either Coho or resident Coho. I never know black mouth means resident king. I always thought it simply refers to immature kings. I really learn a lot. Thanks!!
Kings that will make the enormous gyre from Puget Sound or the Columbia River and up into the Gulf of Alaska and return, move pretty steadily, feeding all the while, once they reach salt water. Once they have left Puget Sound, by late spring, our waters will be pretty devoid of kings until mature fish from an earlier year's run return to commence their spawning runs, which may be as early as March (spring chinook), or much later (summer and fall chinook).
A small percentage instead, choose to remain their entire lives within the Sound and are, thus, available to the angler throughout the winter (the sport fishery for blackmouth was, traditionally, a winter and early spring fishery). These "blackmouth" (a reference to the king's black gumline) usually don't achieve the maximum size of a mature ocean-going king, 10-12 pounds being a pretty good fish, though exceptional specimens have reached 30+ pounds.
Yes, "fishing the salt for silvers" can mean fishing for returning ocean-going fish in the late summer or fall or fishing for resident silvers at almost any time of the year. Wild, native populations of blackmouth and resident silvers are only a shadow of what they were a few decades ago. Unrealistic limits on resident silvers (6 fish under 18 inches), in a highly popular fishery, decimated them and only recently have populations shown some recovery. This has largely been due to the discovery that young silvers, kept in pens beyond their normal time of outmigration, tended, when released, to residualize and remain within a limited area. A full-grown resident silver may reach as much as 3 to 5 pounds at maturity.
I'm bringing this topic back up to the front because my trip is coming up and I am beginning to gear up.
Thanks to everyone for the tips and the fisheries information. For you biologist types: my understanding is that cutthroat trout diverged from rainbows initially due to being isolated in population, presumably sometime around the Lake Missoula period towards the end of the last ice age. Since rainbows and cutties are both onchornychus mykiss, and since both inhabit the same habitat and seem to have more or less the same food source, wouldn't isolation be required to cause divergence? So I have to say I am surprised to learn that sea run cutties don't hybridize, just as I am surprised to hear that they weren't stocked. My understanding was that cutties arose only on the east slopes of the Rockies and are stocked in any waters that communicate to the Pacific - is that inaccurate?
Most of the waters between say mid oregon and well cook inlet are a)recently covered in ice b) quite small and sterile or c) big glacial rivers all three are not particularly suitable locals for resident fish hence the lack of resident rainbows or cuttthroats. Cutthroats probablly populated the coastal area since the end of the last iceage probably coming from the columbia drainage, they like everything else adapted to their enviroment and filled the same niche as dollies. Most of the streams that have SRCs don't naturally have resident rainbows because they are too young or too sterile (they also don't have resident cutts, or dollies) to survive and thrive the fish must go to sea, when rainbows go they get big when cutts go they don't if you were a big steelhead would you spawn with a puny cutthroat? probably not, hence your lack of interbreeding.
Now, back to kokanee. I have been told that this particular run of fish also has a run of rainbows riding its coattails. These fish I know of live in a lake, and the lake is fed by the river they run in to. Immediately above the lake is a private fish ranch, a large one, where the local big wigs feed rainbow trout, but which are otherwise wild. When the kokes run, the big rainbows follow them up eating eggs. So, I am really interested to learn what kind of structure or lies kokanee try to find to spawn on, as there will surely be a bunch of pig rainbows (5-8 lbs.) below them. I'd really love to hook one of those submarines! (Hey, I live in the East, ok? ).
assuming kokanee do the same thing as sockeyes heres my advice:
fish riffles, flats, and pocket water, avoid pools (this might not apply here sockeyes chase trout out of pools kokanee might not do that) fish a single 6mm bead in light pink or rootbeer above a bear hook use just enough split shot so you can see it ticking the bottom every once in a while but not enough that you get snaged a bunch. Fish behind paired up kokanee, sight fish to individual bows etc. a good dead drift is key as it not spooking the fish. Fish early in the run when often time the bows get so full of salmon eggs that they won't move to eat or eat at all, I usually fish 2 or 3 weeks before the peak spawn. Practice those techniques on your stalker farm ponds as practice for the real deal up here.
I had one fish steal a fly line and caught the biggest resident rainbow of my life (32 inch steely my biggest mykiss)
different fish note bead melted to a hook deadly cheap and legal in fly fish only waters in ak
and never overlook the esl this dolly woulnd't hit beads so I switched and fist cast boom!
that migratory silver is considered a feeder in prince william sound because its still feeding (see how the scales are falling off) and we get 15 cents a pound for em, think about that next time you pay $10 + for coho