The super early morning alarm has been my default since July. It must be fishing season in Puget Sound! I snuck out for a couple hours before work today and experienced some of the best Coho Salmon fishing action of my life! Josh, Sean and I met at my boat dock for exactly 2 hours of early morning trolling for Coho.
We ran up to the Edmonds Oil Docks to start. Fishing there had been good this weekend. Today… not so good. We trolled around for about 45 minutes and picked up one on a flasher and squid rig. There wasn’t much risk that we would be worse off, wherever we went. So we decided to run down to Jeff Head, where Sean had found pretty good fishing the day before.
A heavy outgoing tide created a picture-perfect view… hordes of birds all over Jeff Head, tide rips, Porpoises, Seals, all the tell-tale signs that look very interesting to anyone on the hunt for salmon. We trolled around the eastern half of Jeff Head, not veering too far off the edge. Fishing got crazy really quick.
We started with two downrigger rods, rigged with flasher and squid setups. And of course a strip of herring on the hooks! Our third rod had a 4 ounce mooching sinker with a cut-plug herring. I put it 25′ back right in the prop-wash and it quickly proved to be the magic ticket! I learned so much today! The Coho were not that interested in the downrigger gear. They were very interested in that perfectly brined cut-plug herring that was dancing in the kicker propwash. That rod got bit 4 times in a row! One of the Coho that Sean picked up on the surface rod was the biggest of the season so far, weighing in at around ten pounds.
I have struggled for a long time with that surface setup for Coho. It always seemed to get bit but the landing ratio was so terrible it almost seemed like a waste of good bait. My buddy Cary gave me some great pointers that helped me hone my strategy and actually start landing fish on it.
How To Catch Coho in the Prop Wash
- Set the drag loose enough that you can pull line out with two fingers, you will be barely able to gain ground on a decent Coho at trolling speeds.
- Turn on the clicker so you can hear when one goes off.
- Pre cut all your herring the night before and brine, so the cut-plugs will be durable enough to troll at faster speeds.
- Run a 3-4 ounce mooching sinker, herring leader with cut-plug. Let it out 20′ to 30′ back. If you’re only running one surface rod get that line in the prop wash!
- When a Coho picks up your bait, let the clicker zing for a couple seconds and start reeling while the rod is still in its holder. Only pick up the rod when the Coho has stopped head shaking and has turned to run. This is the piece of the puzzle I was missing! (And running too tight a drag).
By the end of our morning, we had retired the downriggers and were running 3 surface lines! The line in the propwash was the most productive by far, but the other two still got bit. Our sixth and final keeper Coho came within ten minutes of our pre-determined end time. All said we probably hooked 12 Coho in an hour, and the fact that most of the action happened on the surface made for a thrilling morning!