Late “B” Run Coho
Jason Brooks, November 07, 2020
Now that the wet weather is here the late returning coho known as the “B” run will only get better once the rivers become fishable. The late run of silvers have been trickling in for the past few weeks, pushing in with the last of the chums. These fish will run into the new year and even a few rivers past Ground Hogs Day. But November is the prime month for B runs. Water conditions will dictate what to use and how to use them and be ready to change throughout the day.
A few years ago we hit the water during a rain storm that caused the river to rise. Twitching jigs worked in the morning but by mid-afternoon the water had become murky with low visibility and spinners with large gold blades caught more fish. Same with rivers on the drop after a storm and fish will once again move to sunken log jams, backwaters and slack where throwing plugs and jigs will do well.
Most coastal rivers receive late coho but some are closed to retention so be sure to check the regulations. These same rivers also start to get early winter steelhead so there is a chance you will catch something and depending on the state and regulations you can keep fishing once you retain the adult salmon daily limit as you switch to target steelhead. This also means having the right gear and using the right techniques that will help catch either species. But with B run coho being the main target here are few of the top late silver techniques.
In high water look for moving fish along soft edges. This is where pulling plugs can really put a lot of fish in the box. Mag-Lip 3.5’s and 4’s or Brad’s Killer Fish K14’s wrapped with a piece of herring or tuna belly catch fish. Bright colors such as double trouble, fickle pickle and mad clown are top producers for Coho. The best thing about pulling plugs is that steelhead attack them readily as well. Downsize the plugs and have some gold, pink, and orange colored ones on hand.
Pulling plugs is an art form and coho are often found in seams and near log jams. Work the boat slowly downriver so the plugs stay in the face of the fish. If the river is on the rise and the fish are on the move then drop anchor and let them come to you. Look for points that create a current break, ledges, and soft seams.
Using deep diving plugs such as MagWarts, MagLips and Brad’s Wigglers you can target coho by casting them and reeling them in. A simple technique that works in pockets, back water, and deep holes where the fish are held up. Look for holding fish that are rolling and then cast the plug to them. The same colors that you use to twitching jigs work well and this technique is a great way to catch coho if you aren’t the best jig twitch’er as it is pretty much foolproof. Just cast and reel in.
While the waters are high and off color using a bright spinner or spoon’s makes for a fast action day. Coho are known to be aggressive so in waters where visibility is limited be sure to use bright colors with a metallic finish. Vibrax size 5 spinners are a mainstay when it comes to off-color Coho. Silver and chartreuse is one of the most popular colors but don’t overlook silver and purple, gold and hot orange, and hot pink colors. To add profile and a contrasting color slide a 3-inch squid skirt over the treble hook, or better yet, replace the treble with a siwash and add the squid skirt. This also makes a great scent cavity and fill it with Pro-Cure Bloody Tuna or Anchovy Bait Sauce.
Late Coho like to stack up in backwaters and soft-water pockets. Twitching jigs has become one of the most popular techniques for the slow water where fish hold, but don’t overlook “drift twitching” which is twitching jigs in current to holding fish. Look for logs and trees where the water is only a few feet deep. As you float by toss in a jig and give it a twitch. My “go to” twitching jigs are Mack’s Lure Rock Dancers made of bucktail so they can withstand the toothy hook-nosed bucks. Try black and purple or cerise and black in 3/8 ounce. Yakima Bait Company’s Maxi-Jig is another good jig for twitching with several vibrant colors for off-color water.
Scent It Up
Don’t forget to use a lot of scent, especially when the water is still high and visibility is low. Pro-Cure Super Sauce or Super Gels hold on in the turbulent waters. Shrimp is one of the most productive scents but also give bloody tuna, salmon egg, herring and anchovy a try. Tip your jigs with a piece of raw prawn or sand shrimp tails and wrap your plugs to add more scent.
Know When and Where To Go
Keep an eye on the river graphs and the forecast for river levels. Once the river peaks and starts on the drop the fish will be on the move. If the rivers drop back down to historical means then look for the back eddies, coves, and sloughs. If the water is still above the mean level then target the seams and travel lanes, such as along the soft grassy edges where the fish will be on the move.
You can learn a lot by reading a river graph. Often I look at the graph the night before the trip and then again while driving to the river. The graph can almost tell you which technique to use, what colors to use and where to look for the fish, without ever being on the river. High, dirty water means metallic finishes that will flash and be seen by coho. Low, clear water means holding fish and twitching jigs, pulling plugs and downsizing spinners. Don’t forget that a rain will often bring in new fish including early winter steelhead.
Don’t sit back and think salmon season is over. Late B run coho are just arriving and will be around for several months. Some rivers have great bank access for those without a boat and other rivers will be void of anglers that are waiting for winter steelhead. Get out and catch some late coho. Jason Brooks is an outdoor writer based in Washington and the Editor of The Tailout, an online magazine dedicated to all things Salmon & Steelhead related.