Late Summer Northern Coho Fishing
One of the biggest questions we get when guests are planning a fishing trip with us at the Rivers Inlet Sportsman’s Club is should I come in July or August & what is the difference? In a nutshell, we can have our best fishing on any given day during our brief eight-week summer season. Why only 8 weeks? This is when the overlapping salmon runs in our area are at their peak, affording our guests the best opportunity for consistent fishing. The returning runs of Chinook/King salmon start to appear in Rivers Inlet in early May & are around until October. However, we wait until July to open the lodge as this is when the schools of migrating coho/silver salmon typically get plentiful. That way our guests get the best chance to catch the famous trophy sized Rivers Inlet Chinook salmon, in combination with the action of the abundant schools of hard fighting coho. And of course, the excellent halibut, lingcod fishing which is also nearby the lodge & accessible.
What does happen through the summer is that the coho salmon get larger in size & more voracious with each passing week. By the end of August, they are typically averaging 12 lbs. We usually have a few on the scales in the 19-20 lb. range! Hands-down, my favourite time to fish in Rivers Inlet is in late August when the big aggressive “hooked nosed” Northern coho move in thick & they are hard to keep off your line.
Why? I think somewhere along my fishing journey I burned myself out from guiding every day all summer long season after season. Too many passes back & forth looking for the big one at “the Wall & ‘the Dome’ (my favourite), & various other nearby trophy salmon haunts. Some days there was more bait cutting than bites & yes it was mostly at the Dome, alone! Diligently shifting your motor in & out of gear as you “mooched” your cut-plug herring with your rod tip right up against the kelp beds along the nooks & crannies & bays along the rocky shoreline where these sea monsters are known to lurk. It was well worth the wait when your patience, perseverance & meticulous attention to detail with your gear paid off & you hooked into a screamer & had the fish fight of a lifetime. However, this type of diligent, disciplined fishing is not for everyone, especially when the coho are calling (& biting) just a few yards offshore! After almost 40 summers at the lodge, my memory now blends one season into the next. So many fish, so many good times with countless characters, sizzling sunsets & so much laughter. What I do distinctly remember after so many days straight on the water, was longing for a day off & a one way ticket out of Rivers Inlet. All of that changed around mid-August when the BIG “hooked nosed” Northern coho started to show up. Everybody was energized & rejuvenated when double headers of hard fighting, acrobatic 15 lb. coho would start to happen at the Wall as “incidental catch” to hunting big trophy Chinook/Kings! The migrating coho are always resident during our July/August season. What happens is they just get bigger & bigger & thicker in numbers. Then the dense schools start to come inshore more & more & invade the known Chinook salmon fishing spots to the point that you can’t keep them off your hook. A good problem to have for sure & a great remedy against any late season “guide burn-out”! I remember back in the day that the excellent September coho fishing was our savior, quickly dissolving any yearning to get back to town, our missed lives, friends & girlfriends in the real world. I can only imagine a life so simple now where you had the luxury of that many days in a row on the water! They say that “youth is wasted on the young”! Apparently, it wasn’t on my kids, I hope. Now all in their late teens & early 20’s, they spent many summers at the lodge when they were growing up. Apparently, some of their best memories are of the late season coho sessions when the action was non-stop & it didn’t matter how many you lost or got to the boat. We were all chatting about these great times over dinner during the holidays on their recent trips home from various colleges & universities. It was nice to be reminded that they are truly lifetime fishing memories we all cherish!
Fast track to today, my wife Stephanie & I are very busy at the lodge during the season with daily operations. Typically, late summer is the only time I can actually get Steph off the dock to wet a line. As a novice in the sport of fishing when she signed on to run the Lodge with me, she soon learned her passion over the years. It is not grinding away at the points & reefs working the structure where the big lunker Chinook salmon lurk. It is those days when that surface coho bite is on, which can be on any given morning during our season. It is when we can just drift with the current with your motor off & fish effectively using a herring on top-water with light tackle. I prefer 1-4 OZ lead with an 8-10 foot leader with 3, 4/OT octopus hooks spaced a few inches apart. Then you cut the perfect angle on the herring, remove the guts & insert the hooks covertly into the flesh to achieve that perfect roll. The lively flash of the cut-plug herring imitates a wounded bait fish & drives the coho wild & into a biting frenzy! The ultimate fishing session is when the tide is running slowly & consistently & you can drift over the school of salmon with the motor off at the perfect speed rarely having to turn the boat on to reposition. And then in all this tranquility there is that piercing “zing” of the line screaming out of the reel to break the silence, FISH ON! Some mornings the action can be so non-stop that you are barely able to keep 1 of your 3 lines in the water. When you can get more than one line in, you are rewarded with double headers & triple headers! World-class saltwater fishing action & excitement like you have never seen in your life! And sometimes it is truly mayhem dealing with the boat, gear & fish but that is all part of the fun. When the bite finally turns off for a bit & you get a small reprieve, you can collect your thoughts. You get a chance to take a breath, look up from the pile of silver sea treasures in your fishing tote & take in the breathtaking scenery & finally have a sip of your morning coffee that went cold hours ago! That is my kind of fishing! Come join us on action fishing adventure of a lifetime fishing the giant late season Northern coho in Rivers Inlet in late August 2022! It truly is priceless.
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Tight Lines, Simon.
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