Silver Salmon Fishing
Alaska salmon fishing is a big part of what brings people to Sitka. Coho salmon provide a steady flow of salmonid action to saltwater anglers from July through mid-September. Migrating stocks make their way to their natal waters, giving coho anglers ample opportunities to catch six-fish-per-day limits. Coho grow larger by the day and those that arrive in July may average from 6- to 10 pounds. By mid-August, these same fish average 8- to 12 pounds, with many fish to 15 pounds in the area. Occasionally, a true 20-pounder is caught. What’s more, Chinook, chum, and pink salmon are often incidentally caught while targeting silvers. Alaska salmon fishing in Sitka can be downright phenomenal, providing the chance to catch four out of the five species of Pacific salmon during the same trip.
The most common technique for catching coho is to troll using downriggers. Coho can be found from the surface to 100 feet down, so using electronics to locate fish and bait is a good strategy. When searching, start shallow and progress deeper. Coho trollers typically run 2.0 to 2.5 mph and troll with the tide.
To be successful at Alaska salmon fishing, you have to locate the fish and feed them what they want to eat. Two of the most popular lures for catching coho in Sitka are hoochies and Silver Horde Coho Killers. 3.5-inch hoochies like those made by P-Line and also those made by Silver Horde work very well. We recommend variations of greens and blues, and patterns with Glow or Ultraviolet are effective. Since needlefish are so prolific in the area, the Silver Horde Coho Killer has proven deadly. Greens, purples, blues, cop car, and patterns with Double Glow and Ultraviolet all will catch fish. The Herring Aide pattern in both the hoochies and Coho Killer is another good choice.
Part of the beauty of using these two lures is that you don’t need bait. If you are a dyed-in-the-wool herring troller, then that works too. We suggest using a Pro-Troll E-Rotary Bait holder. It keeps the bait in place until a salmon eats it. For trolling hoochies or Coho Killers, connect a large (11-inch) flasher of your choice to your mainline, and run a short leader, 24- to 36 inches, to a Coho Killer. Leader brand and material is a matter of choice, consider options from P-Line like SS Fluorocarbon. In general, coho in the saltwater are not leader shy and 30- or even 40-pound-test is a good choice. If herring seem to be more prevalent than needlefish, the Silver Horde Kingfisher spoon, with its wider profile, is a better choice. If using a hoochie, snell your hook of choice to the leader and slide the hoochie down onto the hooks. Add a sliver of herring to the top hook, or smear Pro-Cure Super Gel (herring, krill, bloody tuna and anchovy are all effective) on the hoochie. Use quality ball-bearing swivels in your rigging to connect mainline to flasher and leader to flasher. Quality swivels are critical to managing line twist.
Typical rods are 9’ to 10.5’ long, are medium-heavy power, rated for 10- to 25-pound-test line. It’s good for them to be stout in the lower half to handle fish that can push 20 pounds, but softer on the top half so they can flex under the weight of the downriver ball and are soft enough to give the angler some cushion and keep hooks pinned in hard charging, direction-changing coho. Reels should balance the rods, and offer capacity for two hundred yards of 50- or 65-pound-test braid. Anglers have their preferences on rods, reels and line; bring those that you have confidence in and like to fish, that meet the specs described above.
Send out 10- to 20 feet of line and then clip your mainline to the downrigger release clip. Coho can be attracted to prop wash, so fishing close behind the boat is a good thing. Descend your gear to the depth you want to fish, which could be anywhere from 10- to 100 feet deep. Make long, zig-zagging trolls and be ready for salmon to eat on the turn. These salmon are great fun to catch, battle hard, and make for delicious meals when you get back home. With a six-fish-per-day limit, you can really load some fish boxes when Alaska salmon fishing in Sitka. Shop at our gear shop on site with all the recommended colors and choices available.