I did a trip a couple days ago to Tofino.
I spent most of Monday futilely casting my popper over 40' feet of water looking to get coho to come to the surface. I finally got with the program and learned to bucktail the Weigh West way, which is to troll the fly five feet behind the boat very very slowly on a 350 grain sink tip. If a concentration of fish are found, then everyone would begin blind casting. The accepted B.C. stripping motion is long and slow pulls.
The takes on the trolled flies were always visual, that is, if you could deal with the tedium of staring down at your fly – sometimes for hours on end. The coho have been known to hit the boat and have even ground their noses in the prop as the rocketed to the surface. The prevailing theory is that the boat bottoms are painted black and that the coho mistake the hulls for bait balls as they look up toward the surface.
Tuesday morning and afternoon were extremely slow until we hit a spot at 6pm that had been hot a few days previously. My trolled chartreuse clouser hadn't been in the water for more than ten seconds when I hooked my largest coho of the trip, a brute of a hook-nosed beast between 12-15 pounds. After releasing the fish, I immediately grabbed my dryline setup and tossed my popper out. My boat-partner, Craig Nakagawa, continued to bucktail while I experimented with my popper in the propwash. I found that if I zigzagged my fly by tossing short left and right mends, I would get the fish to rise. The slashes and strikes this evening were downright violent. I caught two more big coho on my popper before we had to leave in order to make the docks at 7:30. We couldn't wait to hit this spot the next morning.
It rained all during the night and the wind was howling as we left the dock. The fishing sucked for all of our last day except for a brief period in the afternoon. I saw some fish jump and we immediately motored over and trolled until Craig hooked up. I tossed and trolled my popper to no avail and I caught and lost a couple more trolling. At the end of the day, one good-sized fish slashed at my popper and grabbed Craigs fly as it went by.
It is amazing to see how different methods work on the same fish. Slow and close trolling would have never entered my mind for coho. On the other hand trolling in general is hard for me. These late season ocean fish seem a lot harder to fool than the July to mid August fish. Probably fewer of them though.
We finished up with almost all top water, cast flies at Neah Bay at the end of August. Fish finally came in on the beach which made the trips much more plesant with a bit of cover from the weather. Great memories of fish coming sideways from 90% to the fly with fantastic back-out-of-the-water hits. Learned a lot this year but so much more to understand.
Drove out to Neah Bay last night to bring back the trailer. Note to anyone going to Sikeu. Take highway 101 and turn at Sappho. The coast road is out somewhere around Silver King. Cost us an hour and a half yeaterday. Got in at 2 AM but really slept well.
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