Coho Salmon in Michigan’s Upper Pennisula

We recently had the privilege to fish for Coho Salmon with Brad Petzkey owner of Rivers North Guide Service. What a blast! We started our day with a pre-dawn boat ride through the slow moving lowland stream. At first light, crisp air gave way to beaming sunlight through the morning trees. I could barely make out the sandy bottom as we began casting our way downstream.

The strategy for the day was to cover the dark and deep areas. Our first interesting scene unfolded as I watched a pair of Coho rise from the tannic depths, follow, and bump my fly. Actually push the fly with its nose. Of course I give the Salmon probably more credit than they deserve but it was as if they were testing the fly for authenticity. Chrissy and I both caught fish in what I call the fishy places. We worked our casts on the downstream angle so the takes were hard and fast – BANG FISH ON! My best Coho gave me a double leap and a great fight as it bulldogged for the wood.

Brad and I came up with a line for the day: “A burst of happiness with a release.”
Yes all fish were released.
Coho are native to the Pacific coast of North America, and to parts of Asia.
They were first introduced to Lake Superior in 1873 but stockings didn’t succeed until 1967. There are naturally spawning populations although augmented with hatchery plantings. You can read more about it on the Michigan DNR site.
I suggest taking a trip to this region. The U.P. is like a mini Alaska. It offers a wide variety of fishing experiences ranging from trolling Lake Superior and Lake Michigan for Salmon, river fishing for Musky, to covering tight streams for native Brook Trout.
Two books that helped us navigate the area:
Michigan Atlas & Gazetteer
Flyfisher’s Fly Fishers Guide to Michigan, by Jim Bedford