How to Fish for Delta Clearwater River Coho Salmon

How to Fish for Delta Clearwater River Coho Salmon


(cheerful instrumental music) – Hi, my name is Brandy Baker
and I’m a fisheries biologist with the Alaska Department
of Fish and Game. Today we’re here at the
Delta Clearwater River fishing for silver salmon,
otherwise known as coho salmon. Let’s get started. The Delta Clearwater
River is located 100 miles south of Fairbanks, off
the Richardson Highway near the city of Delta Junction. It’s a 20 mile long spring-fed river that flows into the Tanana River. The flow is consistent all year long due to the groundwater that feeds it from the Alaska Range aquifer. The river can be accessed from the Clearwater State Recreation Site, the state campground and boat launch that provide seasonal outhouses
and campsites for users. Fishing from shore is easily
done from the campground. Hip boots or chest waders are recommended, as the shoreline can be
covered in snow or ice in the late fall, making the bank slippery to stand and fish from. The shoreline below ordinary
high water is public access. The higher banks along the
river below the boat launch are a mix of private
property and state land. Please be mindful of the
private property signs. Fishing from a boat is
the more popular method along the river. The river is shallow and
most people run a jet boat or float in a raft or canoe to fish. (tires scraping on gravel) Be aware that as the weather gets cold the boat ramp can be extremely icy. If you plan to launch in these conditions it’s a good idea to have chains. (boat engine humming) Remember safe boating practices, as this is a narrow river
with lots of blind corners and many users during
peak times of the season. Some helpful tips: stay river right, be aware of where you anchor, give way to non-powered vessels. If you’re jet boating,
remember the size of your wake increases as you decrease power. This is especially important as you pass people fishing and
floating along the river. The timing of the coho
run can vary, but the peak of the run is generally
the third week of October. You can pick some up during
the end of September, but the best fishing is usually during the first two weeks of October. Most people don’t keep these salmon because they have traveled
a long way upriver and used up most of their fat reserves, so the flesh tends to be not very firm. But you can still catch coho
in pretty good condition near the mouth of the Clearwater, or even earlier in the season. Those fish are best eaten for dinner that night or smoked. If you do plan to keep
salmon, be sure to check the regulations for bag
and possession limits. Occasionally, temporary changes are made to the regulations during
the fishing season. These are called emergency orders or EOs and they don’t appear in the
fishing regulation booklet. Check the Alaska Department
of Fish and Game web site or call one of the Fish and Game offices to see if any EOs have been issued. (water splashing)
So let’s talk about the gear we’re gonna use today. First you want to make sure you have your State of Alaska current
sport fishing license on your person while you’re fishing. Typically, you can use any
six to nine foot fishing rod. Today we’re using a six
and a half foot salmon rod. You can use 12 to 30 pound test line. Today we’re using a 20
pound test monofilament. So let’s talk about some
of the tackle you’ll need. (tackle box thumping) There’s spinners. The size you want to look
for is a four to six. Most spinners come with a treble hook. Today we’re gonna use a single hook, just for ease of releasing the fish. Color patterns that seem to work best are the flashier ones
like your bright orange, your bright chartreuse. There’s multiple spoons. Those are also in a four to six size. You want to make sure you
get bright, flashy colors. Sometimes you’ll want
to add some split shot ’cause you want to make sure your spoon is bouncing along the bottom. And I personally use a snap swivel. I find it makes it easier
to change out your lures. I snap my lure directly on a swivel. Another good choice is
also to use some flies. Coho on the DCR tend to
like flashy, bright flies such as this, which is a Hannah Montana. A lot of times I have
good luck with chartreuse. Another common pattern
is the Egg Sucking Leech and they come in multiple colors. I don’t plan to keep any
of the fish I catch today, so I’m gonna go ahead and crimp this barb so it makes it easier to release. So let’s go fishing. You want to kind of cast
a little bit upstream, let the lure float back down, jigging just a little bit to give it some action. The one thing to remember
when you’re fishing for coho salmon is you just want to keep your lure close to the bottom. The coho generally tend to hang near the bottom in the
slack water, taking rest as they migrate further upstream
to their spawning areas. (cast line whizzing) (reel clicking) Got fish, all right. (laughs) (water splashing) The bonus to a beautiful day, actually hooking into a
silver on the Clearwater. (water splashing) All right, we’re gonna walk this fish back to shore to release him. (water splashing) So we’re in a little bit shallower water to handle him with. (water splashing) This is a male with what’s called a kype and they grow pretty sharp teeth. So with this hook being a little deeper I’ll use my pliers. We’re gonna point him
upstream into the current, just kind of let him go his way. All right, nice coho. (geese honking) You should look for spots
to fish for coho salmon in deep pools where they’re schooled up. As fish from upriver, they
take breaks in certain areas. A lot of that’s that slack water. You can look for them
near mouths of sloughs, on inside bends of corners, holes behind structure from logs that are downed in the river bed, anywhere where the
water current slows down and they hold up on
their migration upriver. They’ve just traveled
from the Pacific Ocean and they’re back onto
their spawning grounds and they’re not actively feeding. So you’re not trying to
match their food source, you’re trying to just get a bright lure in front of their face so they’ll strike. (splashing water)
(soothing instrumental music) This is one of the last
open water sport fisheries in the interior before winter sets in. There’s nothing better
than sight casting for coho in crystal clear water
on a beautiful fall day. Well, it’s getting late. We’ve had a good day
fishing on the Clearwater, so I hope you get out here and try to catch some of these silvers.

6 thoughts on “How to Fish for Delta Clearwater River Coho Salmon”

  • Yes my favorite river and time of the year! I developed that fly just for the Delta Clearwater. Hanna Montana up skirt is the whole name. And Big rays is the only place they can be purchased.

  • Just so everyone knows the Hannah Montana is Available @ Big Ray's Fly shop in Fairbanks Alaska. They also can be custom made by Tundra Hog Tackle in Salcha alaska.

  • It can be fun to go to very small, bright flies on these late-season fish. #8 and even smaller – particularly if they are turning away from larger flies.

  • Who the hell wants for fish for river coho they are spawning they will have fungus or mold on their body’s and it not gonna taste good (; ASIANS THESES DAYS

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