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Idaho Fish and Game

Boat fishing for salmon / Photo by Mike Demick

Coho Salmon Fishing

Coho salmon is a relatively new fishing opportunity in Idaho, thanks to the Nez Perce Tribal Hatchery Program.

Wild Coho Salmon were declared extinct in Idaho in 1986. However, thanks to the Nez Perce Tribe’s successful hatchery program, Coho Salmon have returned to Idaho’s Clearwater River system. In some years, numbers of returning Coho Salmon can support a sport and tribal fishery. 

Coho are an exciting addition to the Clearwater River’s diverse fishery for spring Chinook salmon, summer Chinook salmon, fall Chinook salmon, and steelhead. Coho salmon typically begin to arrive in Idaho in early September, with the run peaking in the middle of October.  The run timing of Coho salmon overlaps with both fall Chinook salmon and steelhead in the Clearwater and Snake rivers. Therefore, anglers should carefully examine their catch, and know how to identify a Coho salmon. Anglers can learn to identify Coho salmon by reviewing the species guide.

Coho salmon sport fishing seasons are typically approved to harvest both adipose clipped and unclipped salmon. The length of the season depends on how many Coho salmon return to Idaho.

Coho range from 8-12 pounds and return to tributaries in the Clearwater River. Managing Coho salmon seasons is coordinated with the Nez Perce Tribe to balance fishing harvest with hatchery broodstock collection and allowing sufficient numbers to spawn in the wild.

Chinook, Coho, Steelhead - How To Identify

Salmon differences - Coho 

Chinook Salmon 

Salmon differences - Steelhead