Vancouver Saltwater Salmon Fishing Report
It’s June 2 and that means coho are now open in both Area 28 and 29. It is 2 hatchery coho a day over 30 cm. This is welcome news to local anglers who have been closed to chinook fishing since April 1. I have already seen some pictures and heard reports of some hatchery coho off South Bowen and Point Atkinson to West Van. I’m not surprised as we did encounter quite a few juvenile coho this winter while fishing for winter chinook. The coho numbers should increase as more fish show up mid-June and into July. Each year the Capilano gets back around 12,000 hatchery coho, all of them are clipped, and that can provide some great coho opportunities minutes from Vancouver. Remember that number is coho that actually get into the hatchery, and thousands more are harvested in the ocean by anglers in boats, off the beaches and in the river itself.
Let’s talk coho tactics. First thing to note is these fish are generally shallow. They are usually caught in the top 65 feet of the water column. Keep your riggers in that zone and I recommend stacking your gear (2 rods on one rigger) so you can really cover that top 65 feet and have lots of flash and action. Coho are not afraid of either, so reflective flashers are the most productive. That high up in the water column we aren’t using flashers with glow tape, we prefer reflective and UV finishes or a combination of both.
The same goes for your spoons. Focus on spoons that have reflective nickel plate, silver plate, gold plate finishes, mylar tapes, or moon jelly tapes and for paint finishes the coho seem to prefer the green and chartreuse shades. For leader length on the spoons try 48 to 60 inches.
Hootchies are also very productive for coho. In particular, try the white UV hootchy or a version of it as some come with pink stripes or mother of pearl finishes. All of them work well. Try a shorter leader to make sure the hootchy has plenty of action, such as 24-28 inches. Also try adding a reflective mylar skirt that will give it more flash and presence in the water.
A few more factors to consider are speed and time of day. We like to troll fast for coho to make sure the flashers, spoons, and hootchies are providing an erratic action. This means with an 18-pound cannonball and two rods on that rigger (stacking) down 50-60 feet, we would expect to have at least a 45-degree cable angle but even more than that is okay, up to about 55 degrees. Remember you are trolling with durable artificial lures and they will work well at higher speeds, particularly hootchies. It’s better to go too fast than too slow for coho.
When it comes to time of day, since the coho are up in the water column, early in the morning is often the most productive. Later in the day when the sun is higher it can slow down a bit. This is less of a factor for fresh and aggressive fish like the ones you will catch off South Bowen or the Hump. I have done well at 35 feet for those coho in the middle of a hot and sunny day. However, for coho that are stacked up off West Van later in the season, the first light bite can be noticeable.
I hope that information gives you some insight into local coho fishing and helps you be successful. You will likely catch some chinook while fishing for coho in Area 28 and 29 and chinook fishing is closed, so make sure those fish are carefully released. The next opportunity for chinook retention will be July 15th when we head over to Gabriola and Entrance Island in Area 17 and portions of Area 29 NW of Gower Point.
See you in the shop or on the water,