Snohomish River System Now Open At Least Through the Month

By: Todd Daniels

After expecting historic low numbers we’re fortunate to have the experts miss on this one and there’s lots of coho in the Snohomish system. The fish showed up. The numbers are way, way, way over preseason forecasts. The hatchery has plenty of fish and is at or near escapement already, Sunset Falls has more than enough fish and there are more than enough fish to be had for everybody.

Now we have the water to fish for them, too, which wasn’t the case a few weeks ago. We went from super low summer conditions to having more traditional fall rains. We are coming off high water over the weekend, which has sucked the fish up into the rivers. Now we have to focus on learning the river and what techniques to use in each area.


Learn The Water

At the present time there are fish throughout the entire Snohomish system. Now the trick is to find them and that will be dependent on the water. The person who learns how to fish the water height has as a huge advantage over the person who just wakes up and goes fishing. When the river is high and off color look for the frog water, i.e. the back channels and areas where the water is still.

For example, where the frog water meets the main river is a perfect place to pitch bobbers and eggs. Don’t be afraid to throw spinners back into the frog water. I throw bright colored No. 5 Vibrax spinners and Red Fire Cure roe. This time of year I’m using a glob about the size of a quarter.


As the water starts to drop and moderate a bit I’m going to start focusing on the traveling lanes in the main channel. I might bobber dog bobbers and eggs or side drift with eggs to look for the fish. Typically, with coho where there’s one there’s more. If you find a fish stay in that run. Don’t leave.

If the water recedes and gets low again look for the deepest parts of the river with the slowest amount of current in the main channel. That’s normally where they stack up. This fall our coho have been running six to 10 pounds, which is average. Meanwhile, there are also toads around, which we didn’t have last year. We’ve had nice fish into the teens and more will be coming.


Updated Regulations:

Action: Opens the Snohomish River, the Skykomish River downstream of the Wallace River, and the Wallace River to the fishing for coho salmon through Oct. 31.

Effective dates and times: Open to coho fishing Oct. 11 through Oct. 31.

Locations: Snohomish River (Snohomish County) from the mouth (Burlington-Northern Railroad bridges), including all channels, sloughs, and interconnected waterways, but excluding all tributaries, upstream to confluence of the Skykomish and Snoqualmie rivers.

Skykomish River from mouth upstream to the confluence with the Wallace River.

Wallace River from mouth (farthest downstream railroad bridge) to 200 feet upstream of the hatchery water intake.


  • Night closure.
  • Anti-snagging rules apply.
  • Salmon, minimum size 12 inches, daily limit 2 coho only.
  • All species other than coho must be released


Editor’s Note: Todd Daniels operates Tall Tails Guide Service. For more information on his guided Puget Sound coho trips please visit