Last Update 03/11/12
The Troller's Scoop
Winter is dying an ugly death this spring. Ice depth at Eloika was great just last weekend at over a foot. Perch fishing was as good as it gets at Eloika with plenty of perch up to 10 inches and enough bass to keep things interesting. We would catch the occasional legal crappie and a snaggle toothed pickerel as well. But the arrival of heavy rain and temps up to 50 has me thinking twice about venturing out for one last hurrah. Warm runoff into Eloika from the Little Spokane River warms the water from underneath and can lead to rapid deterioration of the ice and honeycombing. In these conditions, the ice is still thick, but lacks structural soundness. My new Frabill Predator sled is about to be mothballed until next winter.
Things to do....
Ice fishing is done for the most part. You might find a couple of Gomers out on the ice, but please check it prior to heading out. Current options for fun include the Big Horn Show coming up soon. 4th of July Lake near Sprague has been shedding ice, so it might be a good option for shore fishing for some big rainbows. Hog Canyon is also a local option. Lake Roosevelt is always accessable for shore or boat fishing, and reports indicate good success there. I'd stay away from Rock Lake until the weather moderates a bit. When the wind howls at Rock, there is little shelter on the lake, and many lives have been lost there.
...SPACE RESERVED FOR FUTURE REPORTS....
Lake CDA, Idaho Hot Kokanee Tips
My friend Matt is one of the best trollers I have ever met. His attention to details is what separates the 10% of fish catchers from the 90% who WANT to catch fish. He has graciously given us some tips on kokanee fishing that I thought I'd share with you. And in our regional report lower on this same page, he shares his secret sauce to catch more kokanee. Thanks, Matt!
The Key to Catching Kokanee...
The key to catching kokanee (blue back, silvers etc.) is speed, depth control and flexibility. For speed control, I use a Luhr Jensen trolling speedometer. These units are the most accurate and least expensive ways to control your speed. They cost about $40 at most sporting goods stores and they last forever. All lures and flashers work correctly at a specific speed range. Anytime you are out of that range, you’re just dragging dead metal around the lake. Every wake, wave set, wind gust or direction change immediately changes your speed. The quicker you can return your speed to the range your lure is working, the more time you are spending with your rigging actually attracting fish. For kokanee, when you are using flashers and a wedding ring, a speed of 1.0 knots to 1.2 knots seems to be the range that works the best but don’t be afraid to go as fast as 1.5 knots or as slow as 0.8 knots if that is what it takes to generate some strikes. Day to day, hour to hour, what speed the fish want can change, so you have to be ready to change with them. If you go for 30 minutes without a strike, change your speed, check your bait, make sure you’re not dragging weeds and maybe change colors of wedding ring.
Setting the hook
Kokanee have very soft mouths. If your hook is sharp there is no need to set the hook. The speed of the boat is usually enough to set the hook. Most hooks you buy are actually surprisingly dull. A sharp hook will dig into your fingernail if you just touch the nail with the point of the hook. Most store bought hooks won’t do that and require sharpening. A hook you just finished sharpening will dull with use so I’m constantly touching up my hooks, sometimes 3 or 4 times a day depending on how many fish hit. I carry a small box of assorted replacement hooks in my tackle box because hooks do wear out and need to be replaced. I do not use size 8, 10, 12 etc. hooks on my rigging. I use size 6 and size 4 single hooks, they seem to catch more kokanee. If trebles are used, I use sizes 8 or 10. I keep some glow hooks in this size in my tackle box and it only takes a minute or two to change out a hook and leader on a wedding ring. Monofilament line wears out and degrades in the sunlight. I replace all my leaders at least 2 or 3 times a season. If the kokanee are up in the 14” or larger size, I replace my leaders sometimes 2 or 3 times a day. Kokanee this size have teeth big enough to fray your leader in the first inch or so above the hook. I run my fingers over that section of line every couple of fish and as soon as I feel any roughness to the line, I change it. It’s better than the frustration of reeling in just a piece of leader after a hit.
If you do not have a downrigger, there are several ways to control your depth, but all of them require accurate speed control also. Note, my first downrigger was an old window sash weight I put a release on and used clothes line rope with a loop tied in the line every 5’. I had a bolt that stuck out inside the boat that I hooked the loop on and by counting how many loops I had out, I knew somewhat what my depth was. I didn’t have a reel or anything, I just hand lined the thing up and down. I have 2 reels (a Penn 309 and a Penn 330 GTI) set up with 10 colors of 27 lb. test leaded line. I have 65’ of 14 lb. test FireLine between the leaded line and my ball bearing swivel that I hook the flasher set up to. Each color of leaded line is 30’ so you know the amount of line you have out at any time and the lead core line sinks as a specific rate determined by speed. Over the years, I have learned that at 1.0 knots of speed, pulling a 5 bladed Jack Lloyd flasher set, with all the leader out and enough leaded line out so it just touches the water, the flashers are running at about 6’ – 8’ deep. For each of the next 3 colors of leaded line you go down about 5’ per color. With 4 to 6 colors of lead out, your lure goes down 6’ – 7’ per color. I know that with 7 colors and leader out, at 1.0 knot I’ll tag bottom between 48’ and 52’ down. With 10 colors out, the lure is running 70’ to 75’ down. If you go slower, there is less drag on the line and the rigging, so your depth increases, going faster increases the drag so the depth decreases. Another way to control your depth is to attach a 2 or 3 ounce lead weight ahead of your flashers. When you let out your line, you do it by counting pulls. With one thumb on your line, use the other hand to pull the line from the reel to the first eyelet on your pole. Each time you do this is a pull. I’d start with about 30 to 35 pulls and increase it by 5 every 10 minutes or so until you either get a strike or you hit the bottom. With a bit of trial and error and a good memory (or a notebook), it doesn’t take too long to figure out how many pulls it takes to get to a certain depth.
Kokanee catch rate
Some days, if you get 20% of your strikes into the boat, you are doing good. Kokanee fishing can be frustrating if you let it get to you. On a recent Saturday, we had over 90 strikes, about 60 actually hooked up for a while and we got 23 into the boat. We lost about 20 within 10’ of the boat. That is pretty typical of kokanee fishing. If you caught them at 2:1, you were doing good. When I get a strike, if the fish is not immediately “on”, I keep the line out for another 2 minutes or so before I check the bait. A lot of times, a fish will hit and stay on during that next minute or so. If a fish hits and is “on” immediately pick up the rod and start reeling. Once your start reeling, if the fish starts fighting hard, slow down your reeling. If the fish eases up on the fight, reel a little faster, but DO NOT EVER quit reeling once you’ve started. Some times it feels like the fish got off when in actuality it is swimming with the rig instead of fighting the rig. If you quit reeling, the fish absolutely, every single time will get off.
Well, that is Matt's advice on kokanee. Head out to Loon or CDA and give it a try. One thing I have noted he does differently than a lot of other kokanee fishermen is change the colors of his wedding ring setups. I tend to always pull the same old fluorescent red color around, but Matt keeps every color from red to green to pink to orange in his box and tries them all if necessary.
Matt's Corn Scent Recipe
I take about a half of a teaspoon of red trout powerbait and put it in the blender with about ¾ cup of hot water. Add about 1 tablespoon of red food coloring and if you have it, some blue-back roe. Puree the mixture until it is all liquid, then pour that over a can of white corn that you have transferred into a Tupperware container. Stir it, then put the lid on and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, dump it into a colander and rinse it very well, pour this onto a paper towel and carefully roll it around some to remove the excess water. Put it back into the Tupperware and keep it cold. This mix seems to last about 2 weeks in the refrigerator and it was the only thing we could catch fish on this weekend. I had very good luck with it last year (358 blue back) and I’m hoping it keeps working this year.
Thanks to Matt for this recipe. If you have any reports or hot tips, send them in!
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