Today I had the privilege of taking out Mark Fong, a write for the Fish Sniffer magazine, and his buddy on a guided fishing trip to Stampede Reservoir for the famed Stampede Kokanee. I got there at 4:30 am and was surprised to see that I was not alone. In fact 3 other boats had already launched. Knew then it was gonna be a busy day on the lake.
Started off in front of the launch ramp where there were already 3 boats working the area. Didn’t mark many Kokanee and no bites so I trolled on to look for fish. I don’t like to use the big motor and make a big move because you will drive over fish and not know it. Plus trolling is the best way of finding a school. Well it didn’t take long and bam!!!! A kokanee pulled off the release and soon after, a 14″ fat Kokanee in the boat. We didn’t even get that rod re-rigged before we had another bite, then another bite. Both fish came unhooked. But we were starting to get noticed by the other boats. I look back to see that there were about 7 boats now working their way from the launch ramp to where we were. Yep, gonna be one of those days. I placed a way point on the school and decided to move on to search out another school and found one shortly thereafter. I marked that school and since I was doing a live on the water report on Sep’s California Sportsman radio show in about 30 mins, I headed to where there was good cell coverage and started making tight turns to keep the cell service in range. That made me get noticed again by the other boats on the water which was about 15 boats now and they started heading my way. I made a figure 8 for about 45 mins while on air and there were about a dozen boats within 200 yards of my boat.
I leave after the radio show and head back to my waypoints marking the schools to find that the schools are not balled up tightly anymore and are on the move. That’s good news!!! Means fishing is gonna get real good. And boy did it. From 8am to 9am, we put 5 Kokanee in the box and lost about the same. Then the bite turned off like it always does while Kokanee fishing and we drew blanks for about 30 mins. The other boats must have been struggling too because they all became very spread out looking for some fish. I didn’t have that problem, because I had over a dozen waypoints marked where schools are and sooner or later, they would be on the bite again. You just gotta keep hitting em till they bite.
10 am rolled by and the water skiers started to launch and I knew it was gonna start getting rough with waves from the skiers. Luckily the bite picked up and at 11am, we decided to head back in with 12 Kokanee to 14″. Could have stayed and braved the skiers but my 2 clients had their limits and I had enough for a dinner.
Disclaimer: Losing fish is part of Kokanee fishing. If you are losing only 50% of your Stampede Kokanee, you are doing it correctly. Sometimes you don’t lose em at all, rarely happens, sometimes you cannot get those guys in the net. It happens, and remember is better to hook and lose the fish than to not hook the fish at all.
Top producer was a Rocky Mountain Tackle Double Glow Pink Plankton spinner behind a Rocky Mountain Tackle 4.25″ Pink n Purple dodger with ProCure Garlic scented shoe peg corn. Fish were caught between 25′-50′ and trolling speed was 1mph to 1.2mph gps speed. Target water depth was 85′.