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Thread: Blue Mesa Kokanee

  1. #1

    Default Blue Mesa Kokanee

    Launch ramps and mussel inspection stations are open on Blue Mesa, as are the two marinas. The water in Cebolla, the middle basin, is 45 degree F and the water is green stained. Given a good snowpack, the lake has risen earlier than normal and is about 15 ft below the typical high water level. It appears that managers have recently increased outflows to match inflows. Kokanee fishing is decent, with some people reporting limits (5 fish bag limit, 10 fish possession), although the fish seem to be noticeably smaller this year. The typical mature fish that will spawn in the fall is running about 14 inches and weighs about 1.15 pound. Perhaps it is still early and fish need time to grow. The early, pre-dawn, morning bite has been good lately, with some slow down after 7:30 or so. The usual colors are producing: yellows, pinks, oranges, reds and purples, trailing 4 inch dodgers. Fish are still shallow: lead core out 2 -3 colors with long leaders and downriggers running 15 - 23 ft with long set backs. Predawn air temps have been 23F - 33F and there is still a little snow on north facing slopes. Good Luck.

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  2. #2

    Default Blue Mesa Mid May Fisning Rpt

    Fishing on Blue Mesa continues to be good, particularly between 6 and 7 am. Air temp at 5:30 am is 37 F and water temp in Cebolla is 55 F, with more green staining than before and more floating branches, etc. Fish are taking yellow and orange beads w/ spinners trailing same color dodgers on both downriggers and lead core; 17 - 19 ft deep on DR with 30 ft drop and 3 colors on leadcore. Best trolling speeds are 1.1 - 1.4 MPH. On Mother's Day many fishermen, including guides, were fishing East, just beyond the Elk Creek Marina, an area known as Turtle Rock, and west of the marina, beyond the canyon around Bay of Chickens. The fish are growing and getting fatter. The recent fish-of-the-day was a male, at 1 lb, 11 oz and a little over 16". Female are running 1.5 lbs and 14 - 15 inches. We've been picking up smaller random browns and rainbow, and 2 - 3 lb lake trout at 27 - 35 ft are readily taking yellow and green salmon lures. A fair number of the salmon show signs of escaping large macs. The lake has been rising 1/2 to 3/4 ft per day recently. Good Luck. We're off to Lake Powell for weather that feels more like summer.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Posts
    6

    Default

    Thanks for the report on BM. I was there last Friday, the weather was great and there was no wind. We fished west of Cebolla on the South side and did OK in shallow water with pink and purple squids. Hope to make down there again soon.

  4. #4

    Default kokanee 64

    Glad you had a good day on BM. Interesting that you did well on different colors. I think the kokes are taking any and everything right now. We also were out on Friday and you might have gone past us as we were fishing the bay of chicken area, just as the canyon opens into Cebolla basin. MJ and I fish a 21 ft North River (with no decals, so its somewhat hard to spot). I think we were putting the boat back in the slip a little after 7 am that day, so if you were late getting started our paths didn't cross. Drive by and say hello next time you are on the lake.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Posts
    6

    Default

    The pink worked better than the purple. I kept catching rainbows on the purple. We put in about 6:30 and started in the Bay of Chickens so we probably did cross. I have a 16.5' Alumacraft

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Falcon, CO
    Posts
    38

    Default

    Hi
    Any more news from BM. Thinking of maybe taking a week trip from Co Springs to get a few kokes maybe a laker or 2.
    CH
    God does not detract one minute of life for the hours spent fishing.

  7. #7

    Default Early June Fishing Report

    COFisherman,

    Blue Mesa Fishing has been good but seems to be cooling down in the Iola basin as it heats up in the Cebolla basin. Water temp in Iola this AM was 60F and air temp at the West Elk Marina at 5 am was 47F.

    Water authorities have dropped the lake about 15 ft in the past two weeks. The explanation I heard from the dock hands at the marina is that LOTS of water is still expected and they wanted to have reserve capacity just in case. Perhaps the events in CA scared dam managers. The lake is now going up again (moderately) and will continue to do so until, I was told, about the 10 - 12 of June, when they will start adding as much as 2 ft per day. The Gunnison River is running VERY HIGH at the bridge just west of town.

    The water mid basin in Iola has been very heavily stained for the last week or so and fishing was generally good a week ago. The past few days have seen enormous amounts of large and small debris, including tree trunks 12" - 14" in diameter and many large limbs, in the middle of Iola. Fish finders now show lots of clutter down to 40 ft. Fishing has cooled off and fish were shallower, in the 14ft - 16ft range on downriggers. Orange has been the best color by far, with yellow and purple doing OK. We haven't done well on pinks this summer but I hear others have. We caught several nice kokes today, the largest weighing in at 1 lb 12 oz and two fillets from this size of fish weigh in about 3/4 lb, but we gave up when fishing slowed soon after dawn. I was told by a reliable friend that fishing was better this AM in Cebolla at 20 - 24ft on downriggers. Our next trip we will try Cebolla as Iola is getting too stained and too clogged w/ debris.

    We've been catching plenty of small browns and a few 1 1/4 lb rainbows, which we release. Have caught and dispatched a few small Macs recently but they don't seem as interested in koke lures as before. Earlier in the season many of this-fall-spawner kokes we caught showed signs of attempted predation -- large tooth shaped scared down the sides and even healing puncture wounds on the stomachs. We see less of that now but you'll have my eternal thanks if you reduce the mac population.

    We may fish this weekend but have to be out of town from Monday on. Hope you have a good trip.

    Kokanee64

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Posts
    6

    Default

    I am going to try to make it down there on Friday morning. Have to leave Grand Junction at 3:00 AM to get there by 5:30. I will try Cebolla. Am anxious to try my new rod out. I think I have a few orange hoochies so will start out with them. Thanks for the detailed info, it is appreciated. Jim

  9. #9

    Default Safe Travels

    Jimsco,

    Safe travels on your trip from GJ. Full moon tonight and we've been seeing lots of deer on the roads lately between Montrose and BM.

    We may be out on Friday morning if some guests are able to make it work, so we may see you.

    Regards,

    Kokanee64

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Falcon, CO
    Posts
    38

    Default My birthday is the 23rd sounds like a plan.

    Thinking, maybe the week before 06/23. I need to get some smoking kokes stocked up 2 limits in poison right? On kokes. Just like to catch the lakers they pull like John Deer.
    Thanks for the report.
    CH
    God does not detract one minute of life for the hours spent fishing.

  11. #11

    Default Late June Blue Mesa Fishing Report

    Kokanee fishing remains very good on Blue Mesa.

    Blue Mesa is within about 5 ft of the likely high water mark for the summer (this is about 5 ft lower than "full pool", which seems to cause problems). There is an enormous amount of large debris near the Lake City bridge and the water is stained from continuing high runoff. The Cebolla channel has lots of sticks and stems that we don't need. Air temp this morning was 54F and water temp in Cebolla was 63F.

    Fishing was best from 5:30 - 6:00 am, with a bite every 3 - 4 minutes on average. From 6:00 to 7:00 the average was a bite every 10 - 15 minutes or so. Best color for us was orange, Orange and ORANGE at downrigger depths of 23 and 27 ft. Purple also produced. Fish are fat and scrappy fighters, running 1.5 lb to 1.75 lb, with the occasional 1 7/8 pound fish. Two fillets have a combined weight of 0.75 to 0.85 pounds.

    There is a fishing fleet in every basin but part of the Iola fleet seems to have moved to the bay of Chickens in the Cebolla Basin in the past few days. This is a good time to fishing Blue Mesa.

    Kokanee 64

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Posts
    6

    Default

    I was there is mid-July and fished in the Cebolla basin. We caught our limit on pink billed hoochies trolling from 20 to 35 ft. Planning to head down on Aug 8 to try our luck again. I would like to try jigging for them if I can locate a school. Any advice for jigging this time of year? Jim

  13. #13

    Default Jigging Salmon at Blue Mesa

    Jim,

    Vertical jigging over salmon schools started about a week ago, limited for now to the Iron Works area of Cebolla basin. When it is hot, it is hot.

    Tips, you asked? Where to begin. This is going to be more than you asked for. There are so many things that can go wrong and everything has to be right for jigging to work well. Other than the guides, only 2 or 3 of the 25 boats I saw jigging today can do what I call Drive by Fishing; drive around to hunt down a school of salmon, stop dead plumb over the school, drop a line and reel in a fish. Here are some tips.

    Make sure your fish finder points straight down and that you can see a 1.5 ounce jib bouncing up and down under your boat at the 80 foot mark. If you're not looking straight down, you can't know when you are directly over the school. You may need to turn up sensitivity to see your jig bouncing but most likely if you can't see the jig, the transducer is aimed badly. This can be fussy getting it right. It may help to zoom in so you can watch just the 70 - 90 foot zone, using the tip that follows to put your jig at 80 feet under the boat, where it should be easy for the sonar to detect.

    I use Power Pro braided line on 10-12 lb spinning tackle because it is very sensitive to bumps -- 20 pounds test tied to a large snap swivel. I no longer use mono leader because (1) mono takes a beating during jigging and breaks too often, and (2) when all the nets are in use we sometimes have to "crane" fish into the boat. Braided line is tough. I measure the line on the patio and cut it at 80 feet from the snap swivel. I tie in 2 feet of 20 lb yellow power pro. Now when the jig has fallen to almost 80 feet deep I will feel knots run over the line guides on the rod and I close the bail when the yellow line hits the water. Schooled salmon at Blue Mesa are ALWAYS 80 feet deep, plus or minus 5 - 10 feet. I see other people's jigs on my fish finder all the time while we are fishing, and most of the time they aren't even close to 80 feet. If you are using a line counter reel you'll have to pull out line, measure it with a tape measure, and figure out what counter number is equal to 80 feet. Unless you have nearly identical amounts of line on each of the line counter reels, you have to measure each one separately. Once your sonar is tuned correctly you can use it to calibrate line counter reels at 80 feet. I've had temporary success using a sharpie marker on braided line and I've also seen people poke dental floss through the braided line at the 80 ft mark.

    The most common lures are 1.5 oz Lure Jensen Crippled Herring, pearl white (glow) with a green stripe on the back. But anything at 1 ounce or greater should work. I replace the package hooks with size 6 very sharp EWG treble hooks. Most people use corn on hooks -- white shoe peg, of course. Some people use scents, etc. Lots of people use lights. It is dark at 80 feet. Since salmon sieve plankton and such, we aren't offering them lunch; we are trying to irritate them so they will strike out at our jig, which they probably can't see too well. Lots of people use sword fish lights (C&H Lures) after they appeared in a Cabelas salt water catalog 10 or so years ago and Gene Taylor's in Gunnison carries them. I use a 12 inch Power Pro leader between my lure and my light.

    Bites are often very subtle. I drop to 80 ft and hold dead stick. After 20 - 30 seconds you may feel "bumps" or nibbles like a fish is trying to steal your corn. After 30 seconds or so I occasionally gently lift the lure an inch or two using just a twitch of my hand. Any resistance is a salmon and I keep lifting, pulling really hard to set the hook. Start reeling and set the hook again. When the fishing is slow I sometimes slowly lift the lure 6 - 8 feet and the let the lure drop. I try to follow the lure down with my rod tip, keeping the line a little bit tight but trying not to impede the fall of the lure. If the line goes slack or you don't feel the lure dropping, a fish has taken the lure. Often the fish take the jig on the drop and we detect them on the lift. We get foul hooked fish, which must be released immediately. (Officers exam fish for signs of being foul hooked, so we when we legally catch a fish that shows wounds from being previously foul hooked and released, we let it go again.)

    I use a 14 year old, 5 inch Lowarance LMS 339, dual frequency sonar. Because it has the two "just right" frequencies and cone angles, it works very well for hunting salmon schools. I show the two frequencies side by side, with the upper and lower depth limits set to 60 and 100 feet (focus on where the salmon will be) and the sensitivity turned up somewhat. The 50 kHz transducer covers a circle about 70 feet in diameter at 80 feet deep while the other transducer has a very narrow cone with a 9 ft diameter circle at 80 feet. I use the wide cone to locate a school and the narrow cone to position directly above the school. I see lots of boats fishing over empty water. You have to put the jig in the fish's face, so you have to be directly over the school or it won't work at all.

    My advice is to check out your sonar manual and figure out how to best use the capabilities you have. Some of the guides at BM have the latest sonar and I believe some of the newer technology gives them images that help them find and stay on schools of salmon. They are certainly better than me at finding and positioning on fish. With luck, you'll have the capabilities you need. Many single frequency units are either very wide (great for hunting, poor for final positioning) or very narrow (great for final positioning but ineffective for hunting).

    Most of the boats in the fleet today didn't use their sonars, they pulled up on a boat that was already catching fish, or maybe up to a boat that was near another boat that had caught a fish. Boats very near the guide boat probably caught an occasional fish but most of the catch was on the guide boat. Salmon schools move around some, so any boat in the scrum might occasionally catch a fish, but it is the boats parked directly over the school that will be most successful.

    Hope this helps.

    Roger

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Posts
    6

    Default

    Roger, thanks, that helps a lot. I will have to do a few things different and try it out. I was using a 3/4 ounce PK panic jointed spoon but wasn't watching the sonar well enough to assure that we were right on top of the school. I was using a line-counter reel that I calibrated in my drive so I should have been very close to 80 ft. Jim

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