Here they come, scores of ocean bright coho funneling in from the Strait and finning on by your favorite west Whidbey beach along their journey home, stopping to feed here and there. We love the cool mornings and evenings of late August and September along the rocky beaches, the sticky salt smell in the air, bait dimpling on the smooth water's surface, occasionally interrupted by a big tell-tale swirl. My beach summer coho box has a lot of baitfish imitations, from brightly colored attractor clouser minnows to herring patterns so realistic you could almost pickle them and spread them on your favorite cracker.
Years ago, Colin Flanagan, a guide buddy of mine showed me a simple, impressionistic fly he was fishing with his clients and doing really well with. It swam well in the water, looked squiddy, looked fishy and held up to a number of fish. He ties his pattern with cactus chenille for the body, usually in white. Those fish just fine to this day, but I wanted another layer of translucency, color blending and speckling to really make the creature look alive as it swims through the Puget Sound. The composite loop technique popularized by Jerry French makes a great body for the fly and allows for an infinite level of experimentation. I mainly fish this version or one with blue legs and some blue high lights and have found it to catch coho and cutthroat very well on those days when my other standbys are falling short.
Composite Coho Squid Recipe:
Hook: Ahrex NS110 or Gamakatsu L11S-3H #4
Thread: 140 Denier White Ultra Thread
Eyes: Medium Red Pseudo Eyes
Anti Fouling Guard: #20 Mono
Tail: White Bloodquill Marabou, Opalescent Lateral Scale, Salmon Hot Pink Tipped Crazy Legs
Body: Composite Dubbing Loop of UV Pink Ice Dub, UV Pearl Ice Dub, Pearl Baitfish Emulator, UV Barred Predator Wrap
Confluence Beer Pairing: Howdy Neighbor is a very neighborly summer IPA put together as a collaboration by the hopheads at Kulshan Brewing and Stemma. It reminds me a bit of Greenwood Ale (a personal summer staple for the last few years) but with a little more haze in the mix. In any event, it's more than fit for a night at the vise or to enjoy the sunset on a cozy beach log while you quietly wait for the next push of coho to show up.