Friday, September 9, 2016

COHO- STUDY IN SILVER AND PINK-- A GREAT LAKES EXPERIMENTAL "FIRST FISH"

            ( a stunning gorgeous beast of  a coho from the St Joseph River yesterday 9/8/16 taken on a mysis shrimp pattern- Coho were the first Pacific transplants back in the 60's Michigan Great Lakes revolution)

The 'Coho/Silver' Pacific salmon is one of the finest sporting Pacific salmon for a Great Lakes /Pacific angler and one of the best tasting fish you will ever grill/poach/bake/pan sear. Their importance today more than ever in the Great Lakes 'ever changing and evolving' ecosystem/forage base' is that like steelhead, they are multiple forage base opportunistic feeders, and don't need a diet comprised solely of alewives like king salmon do.
They are 65/35% foragers: 65 vertebrates/35 invertebrates.Like Lake trout, browns, steelhead, they will eat anything that seems to be the 'in abundance market choice' that day: smelt, alewives,cisco, chubs, gobies, sculpins, shrimp, sticklebacks, aquatic insecsts like Hexagenia ( BTW, they would do very well in Erie!), perch etc...etc..- practically anything that swims in the water.
There has been a huge surge in the crustacean mysis forage base ( both native and invasive)  in the lakes due to several factors such as downturn of alewives and other factors.

The coho and steelhead have been taking advantage of that upsurge and are growing large with excellent girths and growth rates as a result- not to mention their gorgeous pink flesh for cuisine purposes ( they look like Alaskan silvers/sockeyes/char)
(Procopius mysis)
The silvers act just like steelhead and love to take a fly with reckless abandon, I found that out as a young teen when fishing Chautauqua Creek off of Lake Erie in December and had schools of once then abundant coho chase my Mickey Finn streamers, as the few Kings were rotting and dying.
They have an amazing pastel color once in the river that are simply gorgeous
( they love pink/white variations)
The St Joseph River stocks the wild coho strain from the Platte River in Michigan- truly beautiful fish, in the Paw Paw tributary. Michigan stocks approx.250,000 annually/ Indiana another 90,000. They are primarily used for the offshore charter industry in the spring, but are a fly fishers ( not 'fisherman's- not PC!- just say'in!) dream come true swinging or nymphing.
In the very tumultuous future that lies in store for the Great Lakes  ( global climate change/changing ecosystem), it would behoove Great Lakes fisheries managers to focus more attention on Coho Salmon. Besides, the 'WILD'  king salmon -Chinooks that we have already established, are doing just fine by themselves and will continue to do so with no stocking required. 'Wild' is a great thing!!!
Hope you find this information useful...cheers!- have a great fall and thank God for the cooler weather and rainfall!
Matt