2019 Nushagak Coho Forecast
The 2019 Nushagak coho forecast is strong. Coho salmon fishing in Alaska is beyond exhilarating. Silver salmon are widely known for their acrobatic display and for being the most wild of the wild Alaskan salmon. A hefty silver salmon will collide with your bait like two ornery bull moose racks crashing during nature’s most elementary show of brute force sparring.
Pound for pound coho put on the hard fight, plus they make an incredibly healthy and delicious protein for your diet. At 5 fish a day with no seasonal limit, coho can fill a 50-pound fish box that is airline ready pretty easily. An average male on The Nush is about nine pounds, while an average female is about seven pounds. Those bag limits of 5 per day have held since 1972 and we are hopeful and excited for another strong coho season on the Nushagak River.
Nushagak River Coho Counts
Coho salmon escapement for the Nushagak River is an estimated 90,000 annually, providing ample Alaska salmon fishing opportunity to tango with many feisty silver salmon. Last year’s inriver abundance estimate was over 110,000 silvers making for happy anglers waiting to show off their variation of the dance.
Over the last 5 years sport anglers have taken just 3% of the yield from coho fishing each year. Numbers have been strong year to year for escapement; we are contented to target this healthy and procreant salmon fishery. The plan calls for a spawning escapement of 60,000 to 120,000 coho. Silver salmon runs are notoriously unpredictable as far as types of salmon in Alaska, but according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, there are no conservation concerns for the area’s coho salmon at this time.
The coho runs on the Nushagak are as hardy as our Chinook salmon counts have been historically. We experienced an anomaly with our king fishery this year when unprecedented heat struck the area leaving water temperatures well above healthy numbers. This made kings lie low, flying through at a rapid pace instead of their normal milling about. The numbers may not be entirely accurate based on AKDFG sonar counts because the process itself naturally estimates. Confirmed king behavior resulting from the high water temperatures may have kept kings off the radar, giving more reason to suspect possible inaccuracy in the counts. Regardless, we are grateful that ADF&G takes measures to protect the world’s largest run of wild Chinook and are thankful it should be another great coho season this year.
Coho Fishing with Nushagak River Adventures Lodge
The Nush coho fishery in the lower 15 miles near the village of Portage Creek increases in intensity from July 20th, when we typically first start catching these ever fighting salmon, through the third week of August when they trend downward until the end of the run.
Historically, silver salmon are upstream bound by 7/27 when we are able to target them and bring them to the boat or shore, and that trend held up in 2019. Due to restrictions emplaced by ADF&G of no bait or scent used in the hunt for coho, our professional guides employ three general techniques:
1. Down stream trolling with #5 or #6 spinning lures is often productive.
2. Back stream trolling with spinners and small plugs is also productive. This can come in handy when silvers, notorious for being sometimes tight lipped, are turning their noses up at the normal bag of tricks. Your guide may wish to focus action in the faces of coho to spark their interest.
3. Casting jigs from the beach seems to be the fastest way to reach limits of five silvers a day right now. It requires using a certain technique, but it is easily taught to less skilled or inexperienced anglers.
Weather on The Nushagak
Weather has had a lot to do with salmon productivity this year so we are pleased to see ambient temperatures settling down to normal averages as we ease into August. We think that bodes well for silver season and pray for rain to grace the region. With only four days of rain since June third we have never seen the river this low before. The 2019 Nushagak coho forecast is still good, but we are ready for rain.
All that glitters is not gold, as is the case of Nushagak silvers. We are exclusively catching these bulldogged salmon with aerial feats likened to those of an airborne ranger for the rest of the season. The tranquility of the Nushagak region in beautiful southwest Alaska is at the top of our minds as colors turn and temperatures drop. The season change and the species change marks the time ticking towards the close of Alaska’s 2019 fishing season at Nushagak River Adventures Lodge.