Find a Fishing Charter
Choose State: Choose Region:
Fish Facts Home

Fish Facts  »  Coho Salmon


During their ocean phase, Coho have silver sides and dark blue backs. During their spawning phase, the jaws and teeth of the coho become hooked, and they develop bright red sides, bluish green heads and backs, dark bellies with dark spots on their back. Sexually maturing coho develop a light pink or rose shading along the belly and the males may show a slight arching of the back. Mature coho salmon have a pronounced red skin color with darker backs. Mature females may be darker than males, with both showing a pronounced hook on the nose.


Coho spend approximately the first half of their life cycle rearing and feeding in streams and small freshwater tributaries. Spawning habitat is small streams with stable gravel substrates. The remainder of the life cycle is spent foraging in estuarine and marine waters of the Pacific Ocean.


In their freshwater stages, coho feed on plankton and insects, and switch to a diet of small fishes as adults in the ocean. Spawning habitat is small streams with stable gravel substrates.


Coho salmon are the backbone of the Alaska troll fishery, however, the majority are caught by the net fishery (Gillnet and Seine). Coho salmon average 3.5% by fish of the annual Alaska salmon harvest; 5.9% by weight of the annual Alaska salmon harvest. (Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, 2003, p.2) This species is a game fish and provides fine sport in fresh and salt water from July to December, especially with light fishing tackle. It is one of the most popular sport fish in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Its popularity is due in part to the reckless abandon which it frequently displays chasing bait and lure while in salt water, and the large number of coastal streams it ascends during its spawning runs. Its habit of schooling in relatively shallow water, and often near beaches, makes it accessible to anglers on the banks as well as in boats. Ocean caught coho is regarded as excellent table fare. It has a moderate to high amount of fat, which is considered essential when judging taste. Only Spring Chinook and Sockeye salmon have higher levels of fats in their meat. Historically, the coho, along with other species, has been a staple in the diet of several Indigenous Peoples, who would also use it to trade with other tribes farther inland. The coho salmon is also a symbol of several tribes, representing life and sustenance.


Coho average 28 inches in length and 7 to 11 pounds in weight, although coho weighing up to 36 pounds have been reported


The traditional range of the coho salmon runs from both sides of the North Pacific ocean, from Hokkaid?, Japan and eastern Russian, around the Bering Sea to mainland Alaska, and south all the way to Monterey Bay, California. Coho salmon have also been introduced in all the Great Lakes, as well as many other landlocked reservoirs throughout the United States.


NOAA Office of Protected Resources, Wikipedia

Source(s) on the web,