Victory In Valdez: Coho Salmon

13 pound Coho salmon caught by me!

13 pound Coho salmon caught by me!

A fishing trip to Valdez, Alaska for Coho salmon, A.K.A. Silvers has always been in the books for Ryan and me. Over the past 3 years, we’ve contemplated the idea of driving (1,092km) to this small city to fish for a week. We’ve drooled over epic stories about anglers catching dozens of salmon, and travelers who raved about the majestic mountains, awe-inspiring scenery and large wildlife along the way, However, we’ve never had the chance to make the trip to Valdez because we were always back in school during September. Thankfully we’ve both graduated from university last June and this year was our year!

Herds of Caribou on the drive

Herds of Caribou along the way to Haines Junction

Taking a break to site see along the way

Taking a break to site see along the way

Gorgeous

Gorgeous

Before I begin, I’d like to give a quick shout out to three friends and avid anglers: John and Nancy Debreceni and Christine Kirk. Thank you for all the helpful tips and advice about fishing in this region!

As first timers in this area, we had the opportunity to explore the best fishing spots, lures and techniques to catch Coho salmon. We were told to fish at the harbour in the middle of town and at Allison Point during the end of August and the first week of September when the Coho return to spawn.

Fishing from the harbour in town

Fishing from the harbour in Valdez

Fishing from Allison Point

Fishing from Allison Point

How to Get There and Where to Fish:

The drive to Valdez took us roughly 12 hours, therefore, prepare for a road trip and be sure to spend at least three or more fishing days to make the trip worth the effort. Head south on the Alaska Highway towards Haines Junction. In Haines Junction, turn right at the Fairbanks sign to stay on the Alaska Highway. Continue towards Tok (624km) and turn left at the Tok cut off and lastly, turn left on the Richardson Highway.

Valdez map

Whitehorse to Valdez

Once in Valdez, there are two locations to fish for Coho from shore: Allison Point and from the harbour in town. Allison Point is located 3 miles north of Valdez city centre on Dayville Road. There is a lot more space to fish at Allison Point, while the harbour can get extremely busy and at times become shoulder to shoulder fishing. My best advice is to claim dibbs at the harbour two to three hours before high tide. During high tide, Coho are typically more active and usually flood into the harbour area and Allison Point. You can find Valdez’s tide table booklet at all local fishing shops. Once you find that spot at Allison Point or at the harbour, cast your lure out into the water and retrieve at a nice slow pace. Coho will regularly attack your bait all the way to shore. In fact, most anglers this year caught their fish within 10 feet of where they were standing!

Many anglers enjoy fishing in town because there are convenient cleaning tables to fillet and clean your catch. As well, there are many professional cleaners who will charge only a couple of dollars to fillet your catch. Once cleaned and filleted, a flash freeze store is located right across the street from the harbour to vacuum pack and preserve your catch.

Allison Point

City centre to Allison Point

Recommended Equipment:

– Landing net

– Fast action spinning rod

– 17 to 20 pound fishing line

– Snap swivel Size 3

Blue Fox “Vibrax” Size 5 or 6 (orange or pink) and Mepps “Flying C”  7/8oz (orange or pink)

– Mustad Treble Hooks Size 2

 

There are other species of salmon in the harbour area during this time of year. Check out Ryan’s Chum salmon he caught!

There are also other salmon swimming around the harbour like Chum salmon. Check out its purple tiger strips

Chum develop gnarly purple tiger strips during spawning season

Unfortunately, this year was very slow for Coho salmon. However, Ryan and I were lucky enough to meet a local who asked us if we wanted to fish for Halibut and Cod. We eagerly agreed and boy was it a good time! We ended up catching four Halibut and six Pacific Cod in a few hours. The big catch of the day was just under 5 feet long!

58 inch, 110 pound Halibut

58 inch, 110 pound Halibut

Pacific Cod

Pacific Cod

Overall, this was one of the most enjoyable fishing trips I’ve ever been on despite the Coho run being slower than we expected. However, I can’t say thank you enough to all kind and generous people I met and talked to in Valdez. It was truly a wonderful experience and fantastic trip to end this summer!

Thanks for reading everyone!

T

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