I grew up on the Clackamas River and fishing for coho was just one of those things you did in the fall. As I got older and started my guiding career we started to focus on the Deschutes River swinging flies for steelhead. Now, over 20 years later with an entire crew of guides and support staff working for me on the Deschutes River- for the first time ever, the Deschutes River has been shut down for steelhead fishing due to low return numbers. What a blow to our main business plan for fall! However, it wasn’t hard to come back to my roots and float by the property of my youth where my parents still live and enjoy coho fishing on the Clackamas River.
What a year to get back on coho on the Clack! This year’s run is projected to be one of the best ever recorded for our early wild run coho. The Clackamas has three separate runs of coho salmon. First is the Eagle Creek hatchery run. This run goes up the wild canyon of Eagle Creek to a Federal fish hatchery. The creek runs cold and clear most of the year and actually flows out of a wilderness area; one of the reasons it has such excellent water quality. As of Sept 29th there was approximately 1500 coho at the hatchery following a rain the end of Sept. Coho returns to Eagle Creek hatchery are commonly around 3-4,000 fish. Considering the small size of this stream that is a lot of fish!
The second coho run on the Clackamas is the early wild coho run (run timing is similar to the Eagle Cr fish). These fish are all wild and are headed for the upper Clackamas River basin. These have been thriving in recent years. Last year’s run was a modern day record of around 6,300 fish. So far this year’s run is on track to easily beat that record at over 6,000 fish already with biologists projecting the run to hit a whopping 9,000- 10,000 fish.
The third coho run on the Clackamas is the lesser known late run. These fish sprinkle through from Dec-February and are all wild and headed into the upper basin (where fishing is closed) to spawn. When you encounter these fish they are typically big, brawny and tough fighters.
Prime time for the early wild and Eagle Cr hatchery fish is usually from mid-September through October depending on fall rains.
For a coho adventure on the Clackamas come join us! Water Time Outfitters guides are now fishing the Clackamas for coho the months of Sept and October. You can find a guide by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
If your interested in learning more about the seasons of the Clackamas check our Clackamas River Workshop. We call it the bank bound anglers guide to fishing the seasons of the Clackamas.