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kokanee64
03-20-2019, 05:43 PM
Well, OK, so maybe not so much a fishing report as a thinking about fishing report and wishing I was fishing report.

Last fall, 2018, the lake was at a near record low level. For those who know the lake, today in the Iola basin the lake is river channel from the Lake City bridge down nearly to the launch ramp on the south shore. We are currently at 29.77% of full pool and 82.57 feet below full pool. We had a cold winter, fortunately without a lot of -30 and -40 temps like some years, but with few thaws until recently. The lake froze early, even Sapinaro. The ice is currently nearly 30 inches thick at Elk Creek and around 12 near the dam. The young guys I talk with in Gene Taylors and ice-fishing friends around town reported good ice-fishing all winter. People are talking ice-out won't happen until mid-April, maybe late April. Elk Creek Marine tries to open May 1 but is delayed some years by ice. First payments for seasonal slip rentals are due at the end of the month.

I guy at the Roaring Judy Fish Hatchery, where Blue Mesa salmon start their lives, told me they had been worried because of water conditions last summer and fall that the fall egg take might be low. They took 9.2 million eggs, which he characterized as "pretty decent." The upper and low records are 17.2 million and under 3 million eggs per year. He didn't say, but from hearing numbers over the year I'd guess this may be slightly above average in a year that had everyone concerned. This year's release of several million salmon fingerlings from the hatchery into the East and then Gunnison rivers hasn't yet been scheduled. They prefer that the lake is open and the sun producing plankton before releasing the fish. They also prefer a new moon because it reduces predation, which apparently can be substantial. Finally, they prefer earlier in the spring, before irrigation head-gates are opened. Several years ago a study out of CSU reported that many thousands of fingerlings were stranded in fields when they were swept into irrigation ditches. Ranchers have been good to cooperate but coordination is big job that gets harder when there are lots of gates already wide open. The people that run the hatchery and fishery at Blue Mesa must feel shell shocked at times. They have the on-going challenges of invasive mussels, gill lice (which they hope may not be as bad as feared), lake trout predation (the previous big problem) and low water levels (which result in lower oxygen levels and other problems). My hat is off to them for producing such a great fishery in such challenging circumstances.

We have been moving snow all winter and loving it. The Gunnison drainage has a snow pack of 151% of the seven year average. We will have a good winter even if it doesn't snow again. Crested Butte, the ski resort 25 miles up the road, has had 274 inches so far this year. The snow around my house is well over 2 ft deep and our deer are struggling, eating sage that sticks through a hard crust that will support them and even me. Everyone is hopeful the lake will rise 40 to 50 feet. About 10 years ago we came off a drought period and had a good snow year; everyone was expecting a good run off. We had an average year. The explanation was that the ground water had been severely depleted and much of what should have been run off was soaked up. I'm hoping for 2 more big storms as insurance.

Fingers crossed for lots of water, hot fishing and a safe year for everyone. Kokanee64

sakalmon
03-21-2019, 04:52 PM
Thanks for the numbers, that is a relief hearing 9.2 million eggs captured. I am guessing we are going to be late April before the ice comes off. On a normal year I always figure the 10th of April. I think a lot depends on how much wind we get in April, wind seems to take the ice off quickly. My guess is we may still have ice in the Cebolla and Lake fork arms early May. I don't remember the year, but it was in the 80s when everyone showed up for the first fishing tournament and the lake was still froze. Normally the 1st tournament is the 1st weekend in May.

kokanee64
03-24-2019, 11:35 PM
I've been wondering whether the concessionaire will be able to get the docks moved and the marina "open" before that first tournament because of ice but also maybe low water. I haven't been down the ramp for a while but it seemed to me it was a pretty good mess down there because of the low water last fall. Also, is there any ramp left? Hope we don't have to wait for more water before the ramp and marina can open. Kokanee64

sakalmon
03-25-2019, 11:16 AM
That is a very good question. I cant imagine trying to run a 120 teams out of that canyon the way it looks now. I have a slip at the Lake fork marina that doesn't open until May 15th. I am wondering if it will be open by the 15th. Warm weather this week, maybe the run off will start.

kokanee64
03-27-2019, 02:12 PM
Over at Wayne's Words a guy posted a link to Dept of Interior and Bureau of Reclamation lake level projections
https://www.usbr.gov/uc/water/crsp/studies/24Month_03.pdf.

The plan projects the end of month lake elevations for Fontenelle, Flaming Gorge, Blue Mesa, Navajo and Powell for the next 24 months (2019 and 2020). Here is what the plan projects for Blue Mesa over the upcoming summer. This would be fantastic, getting us up to 68% of capacity from the 30% of capacity, and 10 ft or so better than the peak last summer. Yesterday the lake was at 7437.61.



Elevation

February 7437.59
March 7438.08
April 7445.41
May 7450.39
June 7488.92
July 7494.09
August 7490.33
September 7487.82

I tried to create a table showing projected elevation, increase from the previous month, and cummulative change from end of February but haven't yet figured out the table function. It is worth noting that essentially no increase is expected in March, only 7 ft in April, 5 ft in May, and then 38 ft in June. These folks are projecting peak end of month elevation in July, at 56.5 ft above the end of of February (and today's) elevation.

I'll be curious to see how close these projections come and I'll post end of month elevation. I'm feeling pretty good about what these projections would mean for fishing and boating on Blue Mesa this summer.

SuperD
03-27-2019, 02:29 PM
Over at Wayne's Words a guy posted a link to Dept of Interior and Bureau of Reclamation lake level projections
https://www.usbr.gov/uc/water/crsp/studies/24Month_03.pdf.

The plan projects the end of month lake elevations for Fontenelle, Flaming Gorge, Blue Mesa, Navajo and Powell for the next 24 months (2019 and 2020). Here is what the plan projects for Blue Mesa over the upcoming summer. This would be fantastic, getting us up to 68% of capacity from the 30% of capacity, and 10 ft or so better than the peak last summer. Yesterday the lake was at 7437.61.



Elevation

February 7437.59
March 7438.08
April 7445.41
May 7450.39
June 7488.92
July 7494.09
August 7490.33
September 7487.82

I tried to create a table showing projected elevation, increase from the previous month, and cummulative change from end of February but haven't yet figured out the table function. It is worth noting that essentially no increase is expected in March, only 7 ft in April, 5 ft in May, and then 38 ft in June. These folks are projecting peak end of month elevation in July, at 56.5 ft above the end of of February (and today's) elevation.

I'll be curious to see how close these projections come and I'll post end of month elevation. I'm feeling pretty good about what these projections would mean for fishing and boating on Blue Mesa this summer.
You're optimism would be much different than my experiences as to the effect of fast rising water conditions. I've found it blows the fishing all to hell. For you folks fishing Blue Mesa, I hope you are correct.

sakalmon
03-27-2019, 03:18 PM
I am surprised they predict more of a rise in April than in May. Maybe they are letting more water go in May. I don't think a 7 ft. rise will get the boat slips off the bank at the lake fork. Thanks for the update!

sakalmon
03-27-2019, 04:02 PM
Ok, I had to dig into this runoff numbers a little with an ex-fish biologist. Apparently the south facing slopes burn off first accounting for the April runoff. After that the air has to warm to a certain temp. to melt the rest. That is dumbing down all the big words he used. Rule of thumb he said is GJ hits 80 degrees we are in run off mode. One problem is they let the fingerlings go dark moon in April if there is no ice. It gets more problematic the later they wait because of head gates open between Roaring Judy and the lake.

kokanee64
03-29-2019, 01:31 PM
Hey SuperD,

I hear you about rapidly rising water and fishing, so I tried to think back to years when BM was hit with a lot of run off -- couldn't recall them clearly so I'll maybe take a look at some water records and look a little deeper. The BM fishery took a big hit during the mackinaw predation years (08 - 10 if I recall correctly) but has mostly been good to excellent the 19 years I've fished it. There are lots of years when lots of water is dumped during runoff but I don't recall any when fishing slowed noticeably. BM is 25 miles long, so people move down lake to avoid mud and trees/debris from big runoffs. This year will be an extreme year; by the end of the summer a substantial majority of the water in the lake will have entered in the past 2 months as runoff (from 30% to 68%). We'll see if our catch rate drops but I'm guessing it will be good. For me, the three big concerns for the fishery are

(1) will we have a lots of fresh water dumped on the lake because salmon are stressed with low oxygen and warmer temps -- this affects summer fishing success and the egg harvest.
(2) how many fingerlings were released for the cohort we are catching now and
(3) how many were eaten by lake trout since then.

My father always claimed that fishing improved when a lake went up because the brown trout found lots of newly submerged bugs and such. That's not the same as 40 feet in 30 days, which we may see this summer. This has gotten me thinking that I've never recorded the lake level or calculated rates of water level change in any of the fishing records I've kept. I sort of pay attention to water temp, but not all that much. Thanks for bringing this up -- it is giving me new things to think about. Kokanee64

SuperD
03-29-2019, 02:35 PM
I'm a 100% sure that the net effect of the lake rising will be good for the fishery. It just might take a short period for things to stabilize.

kokanee64
03-30-2019, 12:06 AM
I think you're calling this one right and it will be interesting to see if I can detect the severity and the length of the effect, so thanks. You know you are living right when you collect your data by going fishing.

kokanee64
04-14-2019, 08:24 PM
Thought I'd share an interesting tidbit from the Gunnison Country Times (April 11) we found when we returned home from Denver today (April 14):

"Working in conjunction with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service (NSP) rangers at Curecanti National Recreation Area broke through two-foot-thick ice this past Friday to stock rainbow trout at Blue Mesa Reservoir. While the Fish and Wildlife Service stocks 120,000 ten-inch fish annually at the reservoir west of Gunnison, staff from the agency's Hotchkiss National Fish Hatchery made four separate trips over the last week with a total of 134,000 additional four-inch trout. The fish were excess stock from the hatchery which the Fish and Wildlife Service crew was happy to deliver to Blue Mesa."

The fingerling delivery would have been April 5 I believe, so probably the ice is less than 2 feet thick today.

kokanee64
04-19-2019, 01:43 PM
The inlet area in the Iola basin at Blue Mesa Reservoir is showing a little open water, not so much elsewhere. The first photo is of the Cebolla basin, looking toward the Elk Creek Camp Ground yesterday. The second is the middle bridge on April 18, yesterday, and the third is the bridge April 2.

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The Feds have published another set of lake level projections. I'm new to this but I'm guessing they publish new forecasts monthly. The new Blue Mesa forecast is for putting 80 ft on the lake, about 23 ft more than the March projection. I'm all in favor of that. My 90 year old neighbor who still works the ranch on which he was born told us the snow on his pastures just soaked in and the ground is now dry. I'm seeing a lot of that. The young guys at Gene Traylors are guessing April 28 for ice out. Maybe it is time to uncover the boat.

kokanee64
04-30-2019, 11:50 AM
We drove the length of Blue Mesa yesterday (April 29) on the way home from fishing Lake Powell. It was nice to see the lake entirely open (as far as we could see anyway) but no boats were on the lake, perhaps because they can't yet launch, perhaps because it was low 40s, windy and raining. The lake is currently at 7437.9 ft, up 14.33 ft from April 1. This is a lot more than projected by the feds. Since the current level is about 2 ft higher than last September 7 when we pulled our boat for the fall, I'm wondering if the powers that be took extra steps to raise the water level to a point where the ramps work somewhat.

The traditional early May fishing tournament has been pushed back to June because of low water. Apparently discussions to hold the tournament mid May didn't work out because of concerns about low run off projections (due to slower snow melt) not covering the ramps sufficiently by then.

We had what counts locally as a good rain last night. That coupled with what appeared to considerably higher flows on the Gunnison when we pulled into town Monday gives me hope we can put another few feet on the lake quickly. Of course, inflow alone doesn't count for much if the feds open up the drain on this bathtub.

I'll be away for nearly a week but I'll post as soon as I know the launch ramps are open. Any other local folks know what is supposed to happen or is actually happening in the next few weeks?

Kokanee64

captcapsaicin
05-01-2019, 10:36 AM
We had what counts locally as a good rain last night. That coupled with what appeared to considerably higher flows on the Gunnison when we pulled into town Monday gives me hope we can put another few feet on the lake quickly. Of course, inflow alone doesn't count for much if the feds open up the drain on this bathtub.

Kokanee64

For what ever reason the outflow was slowed over the weekend and into Tuesday. That coupled with the increased inflow resulted in an almost 5 foot rise by Tuesday. http://bluemesa.water-data.com/

kokanee64
05-09-2019, 09:06 PM
Readers of the recent 2019 Blue Mesa Fishing Report can be forgiven if they are wondering, "is that guy over in Gunnison issuing fake fishing reports again?" The evidence is impossible to refute; lots of reports, zero fish, zero attempts at fishing, zero plans for fishing any time soon. This "report" will continue the trend.

Winter has been slow to leave Gunny. It snowed last night, with more white-out snow, rain and wind throughout the day. Fishing conditions are miserable. However, underlying conditions are improving noticeably. BM is filling faster than projected by the Feds even as locals are noting that a late spring and low temps are keeping inflows modest for now. As Captcapsaicin noted above, the feds put the plug in the bathtub drain in late April for a 5 day period when inflows were good and the lake rose nearly 1.5 ft per day or better. More recently the lake has been rising 9 - 12 inches per day as outflows are again somewhat restricted. We are up 23 ft since the end of March and 7ish ft since the end of April, 45.5% of full pool and 59 ft below full pool. This is roughly the same elevation as August 10 last summer but last summer the lake was dropping and now it just getting started up. Of course, last August we were jigging up tree branches at the Iron Works so there is plenty of room for water.

The concessionaire, NPS and state mussel inspection team got the Elk Creek operation up and going early, which no doubt thrilled the trophy mack fishermen, who seem to like fishing in nasty weather. The Gunnison Country Times brief from a week ago reports that one lane of ramp is open from 6 am to 8 pm daily until May 16 when times change to 5:30 am to 9 pm daily. A call to the concessionaire confirmed that the courtesy docks are in and slips are ready for use, but the store is not yet open. We will wait until better weather temps us to get the boat inspected and parked in the slip, ready for use first thing in the morning without competing for an inspection and our turn on the ramp.

The Gunnison Country Times ran a nice article May 2 about the local kokanee operation, which has been going for 53 years. Last fall Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) took 9.2 million eggs from 15,800 salmon, half male, half female (just under 1200 eggs per female). A couple of weeks ago they released 3.1 million fingerlings into the East River, pretty much consistent with releases in the last 5 years. CPW also sent about 5 million eggs to 26 other waters around the state. If you make it to Gunnison to fish Blue Mesa, I strongly encourage you to visit the Roaring Judy Fish Hatchery, just north of Gunnison and Almont. If anyone can report actual fish caught at BM this spring, please jump in with a report. If not, stay tuned for more fake fishing reports. Kokanee64

kamartin68
05-10-2019, 11:22 AM
I think the fake reports are helpful it nice being able to judge what the water level might be doing before a trip! Thanks for the insight.

ElkHunter99
05-13-2019, 06:15 PM
Great Information Kokanee64 - hopefully the level keeps coming up at a great pace. I'm waiting for your consistent fishing reports saying you limited by 7am or 8am. Again Thank You for giving us a great demo on the reservoir last June and showing us how to catch the Kokanee in Blue Mesa.

jimscol
05-13-2019, 08:44 PM
I'm going to head down on Wednesday. Looks like pretty nice weather

kokanee64
05-19-2019, 11:17 PM
Trigger Warning: Fake Fishing Report Follows

While we got the boat inspected, launched and in the slip last Wednesday, we still haven't fished and don't see how we can before Memorial Day. I had kind of promised myself I wouldn't post again until I had actually caught and eaten a kokanee but after spending a couple of hours on the boat (only in the slip) Saturday afternoon doing prep work and chatting up every fisherman and dockhand I saw, I decided to pass along some news that may help holiday fishing trip planners.

Spoiler Alert: Trout fishing is hot, kokanee fishing is "the worst I can remember in 20 years," and all agree the weather is brutal.

But the lake is filling. We are now at 7471 ft, up 25 ft since the end of April and 33 ft since the end of March. We have already passed the Fed's forecast for the end of May elevation and we are rising 1 to 1.5 ft per day. The Gunnison is running heavy, a little under 5000 cubic feet per second (cps) while outflows have been dialed way back, in the 600 - 800 cfs range. The average inflow for the 10 most recent May 19ths is a little under 3000 cps and the average outflows are a little under 2300 cfs. The inlet is nearly back to the Lake City bridge as we approach 55% of full pool.

Six of the groups of fishermen I've spoken with reported no kokanee caught -- as in none, zip, nada, nope and zilch. The people I saw looked experienced and they had the right equipment. We had 4 inches of snow at my house Friday night and Saturday's rain and sleet was blown by 10 - 20 mph winds plus gusts, so the guys I saw were pretty hard core. They reported hot brown, small mac and rainbow trout fishing. Two boats reported the wind was too strong for vertical jigging larger lake trout. John, the marina's best dock hand and now fishing guide reported catching 4 kokes one week ago today but no kokes since. Mary talked to a guy coming in on a Tracker who said they caught 6 kokes on Saturday on purple. Once the other fishing partner joined in, she got the strong, silent treatment, as sometimes happens. I'm always up for trying purple in the spring -- worked for us at Lake Powell this spring too.

The current weather will continue early into the week, with up to 18 inches of snow forecast for the San Juans. We will spending most of next week and holiday with family, so no fishing for us. If I were going out in the next 10 days based on what I've heard so far, my first day strategy would be to head west, dropping lines at the power lines and following the channel as it cuts across the Bay of Chickens. If I wasn't connecting there I'd pull everything and run to the mouth of Cebolla. I would troll the Cebolla channel toward the highway and do a big circle where the Cebolla joins the Gunnison. If I wasn't connecting by then, I'd try just west of the middle bridge and I would probably be thinking about brown trout fishing along the southern shore in front of the Dillon Pinnacles. When the west wind began to blow me off the lake I'd try the south Cebolla shore for trout on the way back. Early in the spring we often do better on lead core than on downriggers, particularly if we use lots of leader and put the lead core out only 1 or 2 colors. I stripped nearly 100 ft of mono leader off a couple of casting reels that were due for line replacement and used it for long leaders. I would use a very long drop on downriggers -- maybe 75 feet or more. Since trout are hitting, I would be temped to stack downriggers with something deep for lake trout and browns, and with koke lures stacked on top. Good luck and safe boating to all the hearty souls who fish Blue Mesa the next 10 days. And please post a report about your successful kokanee fishing trip.

ps. Lots of snow on Carbon Peak and the Anthracite Range north of Gunnison, with more to come.

9663

jimscol
05-20-2019, 12:12 PM
I did get to BM last Wednesday morning. Got on the water about 7 AM at Elk Creek and headed down lake. Cebolla was stained and had a lot of debris. Trolled for a while with no luck. Decided to head further down to see if we could find any clearer water. Ended up in Soap Creek and found some water that was 52*, 2 of us caught 7 Kokes and some small browns. The Kokes were caught on pink squids at 15 -20 ft. The wind came up at noon so we called it good. Jim

kamartin68
05-28-2019, 10:44 AM
Made it up to big blue for Memorial Day weekend. Spent Saturday down on the west end out in front of sapinero there were a lot of anchored boats I'm assuming jigging for big lakers, trolled from soap creek to the lake fork marina all morning and only found trout and no salmon, couldn't find any 50 degree water. On Sunday we fished out of the canyon at elk creek into bay of chickens and caught a lot of trout and finally got into some salmon in the west end of the bay, they seemed to like green but then the wind blew us off. Trout fishing is good salmon seems to be tough but if you find them they are hungry.

kokanee64
05-28-2019, 11:53 PM
Fish at last!

We fished Blue Mesa for the first time Monday morning and after a couple of stumbles out of the blocks were able to catch 3 kokes and eat them for dinner. Based on Jimscol's report above, we made the 20 minute run from Elk Creek to Soap Creek, adjacent to the dam. When the kicker wouldn't kick we ran back to the marina and since it was by now 6:15 we decided to wait 45 minutes for the marina store to open and see if we could replace the primer bulb, which didn't appear to create pressure. While the dock hands arrived at 7, the key to the store didn't arrive until 7:45; we were running back to Sapinaro by 8 and fishing by 8:30. We caught three kokanee in 15 minutes, two on blue and white beads and one on pink beads. Two were on DRs at 11 ft with lots of drop and one was on leadcore, 1 color with 100ft plus of mono leader. Then nothing until we picked up a small brown later and called it a day.

The water is very heavily stained everywhere west of the marina and presumably worse east of the marina. My estimate is that about 40% - 50% if the water currently in the lake is from this spring's run off. From what I've seen and heard so far, I'm thinking SuperD called it right, and early fishing is going to be slower until the water clears. I was showing 50F water most of the time on Sunday.

Fish are running small, as usual early in the season. These three weighed 3.7 pounds and the six fillets (w/o skin) weighed 1.7 pounds, averaging 1.25 lb and .57 pounds respectively. The cutting board is 16 inches, so I'm calling these 15 inchers. They were delicious and it was wonderful to finally get out on the lake.

It is worth noting that Monday was Memorial Day and my special thanks goes to those who served and to their families.

9665 9666 9667

sakalmon
05-29-2019, 01:35 PM
Glad to hear someone caught a few. I have been in the Sapinero and Soap creek the last few weekends myself. The Kokanee appear to be scattered to me. I caught a few while trolling for Lake trout at 35 and 40 ft. It has been slow for me catching more Browns, Rainbows and Mack's than anything. The few I have caught have been on green. I may lengthen my leader between the dodger and hoochie this weekend and see if this makes any difference. I am marking fish all through the water column and fishing from 10 to 40' ft., no big concentrations marked anywhere.

kokanee64
05-29-2019, 05:21 PM
Thanks for the tip about exploring the column more thoroughly. We fished again this morning with no morning bite and then picked up 3 salmon again around 8:30. But we were fishing very shallow -- 9 to 11 ft on DR and 1 color plus lots of drop and lots of leader. Perhaps we've been concentrating too much on shallow fish. But what ever is going on, this is extremely slow for BM.

kokanee64
05-31-2019, 02:57 PM
So a guy I know was doing a delivery out at the house this morning and we talked fishing for 15 minutes or so. He's a local and has fished BM extensively for 35 years. He said ice fishing was very slow this winter. His friends, who are hard core ice guys and typically catch 200 18 - 24 inch macs per month, caught under 100 macs the entire winter and the length was down to 12 inches. The browns we've caught were all noticeably small. He also reports that this winter he was routinely cleaning algae off his line, something that hadn't happened before. I have noticed more algae in the summer and late last summer we had some serious blooms in Iola, the shallow basin.

Is anyone routinely monitoring oxygen levels at the lake and reporting data on a website?

captcapsaicin
06-03-2019, 10:16 AM
Is anyone routinely monitoring oxygen levels at the lake and reporting data on a website?

CPW collected dissolved Oxygen data in each of the basins at Blue Mesa in 2016 https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Mean-monthly-temperature-and-dissolved-oxygen-profiles-collected-in-each-basin-of-Blue_fig3_324994515

and reported that data along with the results of the mysis survey in the 2018 coldwater annual report. https://cpw.state.co.us/Documents/Research/Aquatic/pdf/Publications/Coldwater_Lake_and_Reservoir_Research_Projects-Annual_Report-2018.pdf

There may be more data available but you would need to request it via the data request form here https://cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/ResearchAquaticData.aspx#Data%20Management

kokanee64
06-03-2019, 08:33 PM
Thanks for the data links Captcapsaicin. The papers and sites you linked me to come at a good time as I just finished reading Barbara Tuchman's 784 page pot boiler, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century. Reading about a 100 year period when Europe lost 60% of its population puts Blue Mesa's problems in a different perspective.

Fishing for salmon is still very slow but trout are biting well. We fished Sat morning, having forgotten the fishing tournament had been rescheduled for that day. We started at the power lines W of the marina and fished the Bay of Chickens. We picked up a couple of salmon and several lake trout before heading to Cebolla, where we picked up 2 more salmon and more L trout. We were catching really shallow, 7 - 11 ft deep, and 17 - 31. The usual colors were working: pink, green, blue, watermelon pattern and orange. There was no clear pattern about depth or color, just random fish now and then.

Today (Monday) we took a friend and returned w/ no salmon after leaving a trail of dead lake trout in our wake. We tried Iola first and caught only trout. We gave up and went to Cebolla channel, where we caught more trout. There is no early morning bite. I think the "hot" period is maybe between 8 and 9. The 10 salmon we've caught over 4 trips have appeared healthy except for gill lice. The two better fish on Sat weighed 1.5 lb each. Water temps are approaching mid 50s F. Air temps are in the high 40s and low 50s on the way to the marina at 5:30 am.

The lake is down 4 ft or so over the last 10 days but finished May up 34 ft since the end of March and up 25 ft since the end of April. We are at 53% of full pool and 50 ft below full pool. The dock hands report that NPS is telling them to expect the lake to fill, starting in 10 - 14 days. For right now the outflows (about 6000 cfs) are bigger than the inflows (3000 - 4000 cfs) but locals think the big inflows are still a week or two away. I'm having a tough time imagining that a LOT more spring runoff is going to make the salmon fishing magically turn on, and, heresy of heresies, I've started wondering about alternative fishing spots we could visit while Blue Mesa percolates. This is a tough time to be fishing Blue Mesa but a good time to be out on the water messing around in boats.

Pac12AfterDark
06-23-2019, 10:44 PM
Finally got out to Blue Mesa from the great state of Utah! What a beautiful reservoir - I still might like Flaming Gorge more, but your fishery is beautiful.

I inspected and launched at Elk Creek, talking with another angler in the parking lot on Thursday AM he said Lake Fork was where it was at. I had no reason to think otherwise so I headed all the way down. If you are reading this - thanks for all your help stranger!

First day caught two at 17 ft, second day went 4 for 12 at 7 ft, and third day went 5 for 6 at 7ft. I have included pictures of all the flies, squids and dodgers that hooked up on my trip - TOTALLY different from what I have had any success with in Utah over the years. All fish seemed to be that middle of the road second year class 1.5 - 2 pounds at 14-17".

Many, MANY hook ups long lining with no downrigger at all. I swapped all my hooks to number two gamigatsu hooks after losing so many on the second day.

During cleaning the second day I met a couple who pointed out the kokanee were infested with gill lice, sure enough I checked my fish the next day and four of the five had them.

Anyways - beautiful lake and good luck out there. I registered just to post this information because of all the help I got from reading it. Thanks again!!

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kokanee64
06-24-2019, 03:35 PM
Thanks for the info Pac12afterdark. I wish we had seen it before leaving this morning but I'll use if we fish tomorrow.

Fishing today (Monday) was slow, with 3 salmon and 4 small macs in about 2.5 hours of fishing. The temp in Gunnison was 32F and the water temp was 57F. We haven't yet found a pattern, so we are trying lots of colors at lots of depths and lots of speeds. We tried Bay of Chickens out of the box without a bite after 30 minutes, so we pull everything in and went to Sapinaro. Robby, Randy, Seth and the Kokaholic (all guides) were there. Before putting the line in the DR release, we picked up a kokanee on orange -- essentially a 80 ft long line. The other two kokes were on 1.5 - 2.5 colors on leadcore, one on blue and one on pink. The smaller koke (1.3 lb) had substantial gill lice while the other two (1.5 lb each) had few or no lice.

We also fished the previous Thursday, with 6 - 8 trout and zero salmon.

Before that, we made a 5 day camping and fishing trip to Lake Powell. Because the salmon fishing was so slow we thought we would trade cool temps and cool fishing at Blue Mesa for hot temps and hot fishing at Powell. We got the hot temps but I never cleaned a fish a Powell and didn't much care since we got the hot temps, refreshing swims and the incredible scenery.

When we returned we were gobsmacked by how much the lake has risen, nearly 2 ft per day for the last 10 days or so. Inflows peaked a week or so back, with one day over 10,000 cfs and several over 9,000 cfs. Outflows have been mostly low, sometimes below 100 cfs. We are currently at 25 ft below full pool and 75% of full pool. There is still lots of snow up mountain, so if the outflows don't get big we might fill the reservoir in the next 3 weeks. The lake now starts a little west of Wilson's Landing. We had two unrelated deaths on the Gunnison River last Friday, one on a paddle board and one in a kayak. The sheriff had closed parts of the river prior to these accidents but had opened the river again when flows moderated. Be safe.

kokehead21
06-25-2019, 11:34 PM
Hi All,

I have been wanting to chase kokanee at Blue Mesa since moving to Santa Fe from Washington state 3 years ago. Although my wife and I have caught some kokes in New Mexico, we haven't caught them as consistently as we did in Washington. We have a long weekend next weekend, and we were thinking about making the 5 hour trip to BM. My question is - is it worth the trip to Blue Mesa next weekend to try our hand at this kokanee fishery? It seems like the reports have been mixed and sporadic. Thanks for any help or insight you can give!

kokanee64
06-26-2019, 02:34 AM
I had noticed our last two trips that several of the guides were using planer boards. I wondered at the time how this worked with leadcore line. After reading Pac12AfterDark's post above I realized they weren't using leadcore, this was just a way to spread flatlines. So this morning I set downriggers at about 4 ft -- I could see the release clip in the dirty water. One to two colors on leadcore. We caught 7 cokes, one a small one we were able to release, and 6 - 8 lake trout in 2 hour. We were fishing in front of the Dillon Pinnacles. The largest weighed in at exactly 2 lbs. So thank you Pac12AfterDark -- we had our best day this year with your help.

For kokehead21: Is it worth spending some time at Blue Mesa next weekend? I think so. The weather is supposed to be good but it is realistic to expect wind coming up around noon on most days. That can be a good time to play tourist and gunnison and Crested Butte have a lot to offer. I believe the tour boat on Morrow Point Reservoir, which starts only a mile or less below the Blue Mesa Dam, is running again and is well worth the time and money -- reservations are needed but I don't know about lead times. check the Curecante Nat'l Rec Area web site.

I'd come prepared to fish shallow. You saw the lures and dodgers that Pac12 was using and I'll post a photo of some of mine. He used squids while I favor beads and spinners. Practically anything will work and the trick may be getting enough lines in the water at shallow depths without endless tangles. Because the fish are hooked so shallow, they are immediately in the air and fighting like tigers. You won't match the good days we had last year but you'll catch some salmon and have some fun. I think fishing is picking up. I'm half expecting us to catch a limit of 10 on our next trip. We are going to be fishing 30 minutes earlier (setting lines at 5:30 or earlier). The Lake Fork Marina is much closer to the best fishing than Elk Creek Marina -- it takes us 10 - 15 minutes each way from Elk Creek and 5 gallons of gas. Gas is usually available at the two marinas or you can run into Gunnison and save enough to buy a couple of lures at Gene Taylors Sporting Goods, on HW 50. In previous years vertical jigging for salmon started a little before July 4. I can't imagine that happening so soon this year. The only fish I see so far at 80ft are macks. I've always thought the Elk Creek campground had more appeal than the Lake fork campground but I've never stayed in either.

If you have other questions, drop me a private notice on this site above and I'll send you my phone number. I think we'll be in town this weekend and probably on the lake at least one day.

kokanee64
06-26-2019, 02:33 PM
Photos for the previous post. Lures from yesterday, lures ready to use and the fish from yesterday.

9689 9688 9690

kokehead21
06-27-2019, 02:41 PM
Thank you for the information! When I lived in Washington, everybody helped each other out with fishing information. Since moving to New Mexico, fisherman are more tight lipped and information is harder to find online. Itís wonderful that you folks at Blue Mesa are willing to help strangers online. I always feel like there are plenty of fish around so Iím always willing to share information as well. Iíll let you know if we make it up and Iíll give a full report. I have an aluminum 16í 1981 Grumman with blue lettering. If you see us out there, say hey. Itís not the prettiest boat on the water but it keeps us fishing thumbsup

kamartin68
06-27-2019, 04:00 PM
Kokeanee64,

I noticed in your picture your running treble hooks on your squids and spinners do find that this helps with hook ups?

kokanee64
06-28-2019, 12:29 AM
I agree with you Kokehead21 that it helps the share fishing info and I guess its pretty obvious my natural inclination is to share. On the other hand I've overshared a time or two and paid the price, so I can understand those that are more tight lipped. I suppose it comes down to how much sharing info will damage my fishing experience. Given the way kokanee fisheries work, I don't think helping others catch a few more kokanees is going to affect me at all. If anything, thinking about how and what to report can make me a more thoughtful fisherman. To each his own.

Kamartin68: I always use treble hooks -- Gamakatsu size 6 EWG. When I use the two snelled hooks that come on many lures, it seems the first fish twists in the net and breaks off the trailing hook and I have to retie everything anyway. We don't lose very many fish with treble hooks and it is very rare that we lose a fish while netting -- if we can get the hook set well we usually convert. The only downside is releasing fish caught on treble hooks. We keep small salmon and brown that we inadvertently kill but are able to release a surprising number by carefully removing the hook. Practice helps.

We fished this morning and caught 7 salmon with an average weight of just under 1.5 pounds. The largest fish was 1.75 lb and the smallest 1.3 pound. Over 80% of the fish we've caught this year are males. One fish today showed serious signs of attempted predation. Some fish are showing lots of gill lice (they tend to be the smaller salmon) but most fish are clean or show only a few lice. Purple was the best color until the sun was on the water, then chartreuse and other bright colors were better. We fished in front of the Dillon Pinnacles and then moved further west into the Sapinaro basin. I could see the release clips on the down rigger set ups and we had leadcore out 1 - 3 colors. We started fishing at 5:30 and caught two salmon within 10 minutes. The bite was over for us by 8 am or so. We are closing in on an elevation of 7500 ft and are only 24 ft below full pool. Inflows are down, below 6,000 cfs and outflows are starting to increase. The lake is still rising at over 1 ft per day. Early morning water temps are 58ish, warming to 60+ on a sunny day.

Dakota Dude
06-28-2019, 03:45 PM
I'll be up there for the 4th camping and fishing. Thanks a lot for the updates! Very informative.

kokaneeds
07-05-2019, 03:22 AM
Hi All,
I am new to the forum and live on the west slope, just got into chasing Kokanee from my kayak. Thanks for all the perspective, you have helped me get a fun start with your shared experiences.

kokanee64
07-05-2019, 07:52 PM
Hey Kokaneeds, nice to see your post and thanks for the kind words.

We fished this morning (Friday), a too rare event this summer due to other stuff that just doesn't leave us enough time. To cut to the chase, fishing was very slow, with one fish from this year's spawners and one from next year's. Hey, it is supper.

Because we've fished so infrequently this summer we still haven't identified a clear pattern and the slow bite also makes it difficult to identify a pattern. A reliable friend who fishes regularly said he is having his best luck in the Bay of Chickens (Cebolla Basin) on DRs 12 - 15 ft and LC 2.5 to 3.5 colors out. His best luck is not very good, 3 salmon this morning. We caught today on LC at 3 and DR at 21. Both felt like one-off catches. Lure color seems to be random but we saw a lot of other boats using pinks. We are still catching 3 lake trout for every salmon. We sampled most of the Cebolla Basin.

On the good new side, the lake at 7510 ft elevation, 90% full and only 10 ft below full pool. We are currently up 73 ft from the low point (which was pretty stable from early fall last year to spring this year) of 7437. The lake feels and looks full.
Inflows were running in the 7 to 8K cfs range recently and outflows were around 1K cfs, resulting in a rise of about 1.5 ft per day. So the lake is going to fill unless water managers increase the outflows rapidly. The water is dirty with debris, logs, sticks and stems that we don't need, and mud.

Being fishermen, everyone I talk to about the lake has a theory explaining the low catch. Most believe the fish are just shallow (and they are certainly shallow) and we just have to wait for the water to clear up and they will go deeper. I don't believe there are very many salmon in this year's spawning cohort. I'd guess they were eaten by lake trout (mackinaws). Several of the fish we've caught this summer show scars that look like the salmon escaped the jaws of a big mac. The question of the summer is when and if the fish will begin schooling in preparation for the run up the river. In years past they reliably schooled at 80 ft near the iron works and several other places. We have often jigged for fish on the 4th of July or within a week or two. Will salmon leave the 12 - 15 ft strata and school at 80 ft anytime soon? I'm skeptical but my opinion is only an ill-informed guess. Some males are beginning to look like males (it is in the mouth for me) but the female eggs and male sperm sacks aren't developing yet. I don't know what triggers the fall spawning behavior -- I'd guess it the amount of light or length of day, but that is just more guessing. Don't know if it is significant but the overwhelming (like 80%) number of this salmon I've cleaned this summer have been males.

Mary is using the word "glacial" to describe how slow fishing is, and I can't disagree, but it felt good to be out this morning, watch a sunrise, enjoy the calm, cloudless sky, mess around with a boat, and spend some quality time with my sweetheart of 42 years. Life can be good even when the fish don't cooperate.

kokaneeds
07-06-2019, 01:43 AM
Hey kokanee64,
I made it out for the early session Wednesday and had similar results. I flatlined two rods ~120ft behind the kayak and no weight. I caught 3 on hoochies and lost 3 more, I am still learning gear management on the kayak in close quarters.
Pink and purple was the ticket for me with 5 out of 6 hookups, one on chartreuse/ orange. I was doing best with very small dodgers with a wide kick. A few scrappy browns and more rainbows filled out the slow times.
I guess you must be picking up the Lakers on spinners and spoons, I havenít hooked up with any yet targeting salmon but I am fishing east of cebolla for yak access.
All I can figure out (and I have very limited experience) is that the ones I am hooking up with are working the plankton on the slow current seams near the cliffs, the rest of the lake seems to be a crap shoot. I saw schools at 15-30 ft all over last weekend, this week only a few at a time.
Wish I knew what that is all about. These fish are an absolute ball to chase, I appreciate any feedback to understand them better

kokanee64
07-06-2019, 01:57 PM
Sounds to me like you are getting it dialed in Kokaneed. We haven't been seeing schools of salmon; I think that when we motor over shallow fish they move to the side. In you kayak, you probably go right over them without disturbing them, so you can see the schools. Very interesting. Yes, these are my favorite fish to catch because they are such great fighters and they taste so good. I guess if you are a salmon that gets counted as really bad luck. Hope you have great luck.

kokaneeds
07-06-2019, 02:25 PM
It is bad luck for them indeed:) Any time I get on them I am thrilled, if they move it is bad luck for me because top speed is 3knots and I canít keep that up for long. It is a big body of water to scout!
I noticed in one of your earlier posts that you are using bead patterns with a lot of contrast, like black and white. Is that an early season trend for you or do you prefer that throughout the season?

kokehead21
07-07-2019, 02:59 PM
Hey guys, wanted to post since I said I would give an update for the 4th of July weekend. We didnít end up going to Blue Mesa since the reports were hit or miss and itís a long drive. We ended up going to Navajo lake and got into Kokanee there. My wife and I got our limits. Hope to make it to Blue Mesa soon! Thanks for all the information kokanee64!

kamartin68
07-09-2019, 09:58 AM
When I lived up in Wyoming on the flaming gorge most of the seasoned fisherman would say in big water years like this one the fishing usually sucked because the water was never very stable. Makes me wonder 2 things, 1) How many salmon may have died last year with the low lake levels and probably low oxygen levels that we don't know about? 2) If water managers can manage to keep the lake relatively full this year will next year be a banner year if they can keep the lake stable?

kokaneeds
07-11-2019, 11:28 PM
I am really curious how the runoff and fluctuation effect the plankton. Sediment = nutrients = phytoplankton = zooplankton is my basic understanding. If water clarity gets very poor do the plankton end up entirely in the upper column to get sunlight? And if there is a balance throughout the few remaining months for the kokes to put on weight is it already a setup for a banner year?
If anyone has been on Blue this week I would love to hear if you had any success, I am going to try to get there Saturday for a morning and take a visiting kid.
Tight Lines:)

kamartin68
07-12-2019, 02:29 PM
I never thought about the plankton being up in the top of the water column, it makes a lot of sense though.

kokaneeds
07-13-2019, 04:30 PM
Well, at least the weather was beautiful:) One Kokanee for 5+ hrs paddling around. I donít know where in the heck the fish are, but I can tell you there arenít a lot between elk and dry creeks. Lots of algae, the lake certainly has plenty of nutrients, but even the trout are acting uninterested.
Salmon seem to be heading deeper, 25-50ft seemed to be the trend.
I hope somebody got something figured out today!:)

kokanee64
07-15-2019, 12:18 AM
After over a week without fishing we were on the water early Sunday morning; 1 kokanee, 3-4 small macs and one brown. It was pretty disappointing.

Last Wednesday on an early morning trip to Montrose we noticed 10 - 12 boats, including 3 guide boats, fishing between Red Creek Islands and the middle bridge, so this morning we started there. In 45 minutes we didn't have a bite and no other boats joined us. We pulled in everything and went to the Iron Works. We found 6 - 8 boats and a herd of 20 big horn sheep near the highway. We caught some macs and finally picked up the single koke in the Bay of Chickens.

The single koke was caught on LC, 1.5 - 2 colors, so it appears the kokes are still shallow. We tried deeper to see if the fish between 30 and 40 feet were trout or salmon. They were trout. We see a few fish between 70 and 90 feet but nothing that looks like the typical schooling behavior for this time year.

On the good side of the ledger, the lake is now essentially full, at 97% of capacity and 3ish feet below full pool. We are up 80 ft from the low point this spring. Did all the run off cause the poor fishing? Was the problem caused by low water and low oxygen last fall and winter? Did a bunch of hungry macs decimate the year's spawners a couple of years back when they were minnows? Maybe all these things came together in a perfect storm that produced the worst salmon fishing in 20 years. My big fear now is that we won't have the necessary 15,000 spawners needed for eggs and milt this fall.

kokaneeds
07-15-2019, 12:37 AM
Kokanee64
Thank you for the report, I am glad that you sorted out the marks at mid-range, I caught one bow down there but assumed it was mostly Kokanee.
I hope that the spawn is still strong and the fish are just dispersed right now, have we had good years for 2nd and 3rd year adults coming up next year in your opinion?

kokanee64
07-16-2019, 12:56 AM
Kokaneeds,

Pretty sure I haven't sorted out the depth issue. Since fishing has been so slow on the lake, I was in Gene Taylor sporting goods in Gunny this afternoon to "talk fishing." One of the young dudes recommended blue squid and dodgers (what I've had luck with too) fished between 20 and 30 ft. We've been trying this range, as well as 30 - 40, when extremely shallow hasn't been working. We catch a lot more small lakers than Kokanee regardless of depth, so it is hard to say what the pattern is right now. I'm thinking there aren't very many fish in this year's spawning cohort but we may not know until we see them or not in the river on their way to the hatchery. Good Luck -- we all need it this year.

furmaster
07-16-2019, 01:56 PM
Hey fellas, been a long time lurker here. I have been following these Blue Mesa Kokanee reports for the last few years. Ive never posted on the topic because Im new to trolling for kokanee and didnt feel I had anything to contribute. Maybe I should have been posting the success I have had this year which sounds about par with everything that is being shared. Basically every color I have, every dodger I have, 5-2.0mph and the depths I see them at. Thats about it. I think I just get lucky once in a while. I have found no hot pattern although I think my pinks, purples have done best and 90% of my fish I have caught are right at 1.2 mph.

The main reason I am posting today is I think I can help with the concern about the # of kokes. Obviously the kokanee are very shallow. I seem to see them from surface to about 15ft.
I havent been out there in 10 days so that may have changed a bit. Here is my contribution if it helps. I have no idea about the sonar you guys are using, but this last year I took the jump into garmin panoptix. I have the PS22 transducer on a pole I can spin around and look 360 degrees and over 100 feet away. When I do find kokanee, It is pretty obvious. They have a different return because of their air bladders. These schooled fish are not "stacking" in this shallow water they are in schools but spread out. With regular sonar on whatever type of downview the unit has, even with a large cone angle, there is no way to see these fish. Sideview might be pretty handy but for me, shallow fish in deep water is hard for me to see in side view. I have no idea why these fish are being so finicky this year, most likely the unstable water and murkiness, but like I said, I am pretty new to this. To be able to consistently see these shallow fish with a down facing cone they would have to not flee from boat. I promise they do!!! I can spot a school and troll straight at them. When the boat is about 20ft or so away they will either dive down or flare off to the side. When I know I have gone over them I will turn my transducer to back and they will come back to pretty much where they were when I am about 40ft past them. I can watch my lure/dodger go right throught them, I can watch them turn and follow my lure, which is great. I have triggered some hits with a speed change or drop my pole and let my lure fall, then pull up and speed up. Anyways, being new to this I am not sure exactly how many fish I should be seeing, but I can say I can see at least 80% more fish on my screen with my panoptix than show up with my 2d sonar, I think the fish are there, just not in the mood to go in my cooler.

Syver

Dorado
07-16-2019, 04:49 PM
Hey fellas, been a long time lurker here. I have been following these Blue Mesa Kokanee reports for the last few years. Ive never posted on the topic because Im new to trolling for kokanee and didnt feel I had anything to contribute. Maybe I should have been posting the success I have had this year which sounds about par with everything that is being shared. Basically every color I have, every dodger I have, 5-2.0mph and the depths I see them at. Thats about it. I think I just get lucky once in a while. I have found no hot pattern although I think my pinks, purples have done best and 90% of my fish I have caught are right at 1.2 mph.

The main reason I am posting today is I think I can help with the concern about the # of kokes. Obviously the kokanee are very shallow. I seem to see them from surface to about 15ft.
I havent been out there in 10 days so that may have changed a bit. Here is my contribution if it helps. I have no idea about the sonar you guys are using, but this last year I took the jump into garmin panoptix. I have the PS22 transducer on a pole I can spin around and look 360 degrees and over 100 feet away. When I do find kokanee, It is pretty obvious. They have a different return because of their air bladders. These schooled fish are not "stacking" in this shallow water they are in schools but spread out. With regular sonar on whatever type of downview the unit has, even with a large cone angle, there is no way to see these fish. Sideview might be pretty handy but for me, shallow fish in deep water is hard for me to see in side view. I have no idea why these fish are being so finicky this year, most likely the unstable water and murkiness, but like I said, I am pretty new to this. To be able to consistently see these shallow fish with a down facing cone they would have to not flee from boat. I promise they do!!! I can spot a school and troll straight at them. When the boat is about 20ft or so away they will either dive down or flare off to the side. When I know I have gone over them I will turn my transducer to back and they will come back to pretty much where they were when I am about 40ft past them. I can watch my lure/dodger go right throught them, I can watch them turn and follow my lure, which is great. I have triggered some hits with a speed change or drop my pole and let my lure fall, then pull up and speed up. Anyways, being new to this I am not sure exactly how many fish I should be seeing, but I can say I can see at least 80% more fish on my screen with my panoptix than show up with my 2d sonar, I think the fish are there, just not in the mood to go in my cooler.

Syver

That is very cool! I live in WY and have never fished Blue Mesa, but I fish Fontenelle reservoir for Kokanee a lot. It is a weird reservoir, in that the Kokanee never stratify at depth. They are almost always near the surface, even when the the water is 70 degrees on the surface. Because the fish are almost always shallow, lots of people run the dual board planing boards to spread their lures out away from the boat. You can run multiple lines off the boards, and you use release clips like on downriggers, so you dont have to mess with dragging the planer board each time you hook a fish...

This has been a weird year at Fontenelle too, as far as figuring out a pattern and finding fish....

kokanee64
07-16-2019, 08:52 PM
Syver,

Thanks for the info re fish on your sonar. My sonar is at least 15 years but I keep it because it works very well for jigging and when the fish are deeper it works plenty well enough for trolling. But at times this I sure wish I had something that could help makes sense of where to find the fish. So thanks.

Back about 10 years ago I was out trolling one very hot day in August on Blue Mesa and went up to stand in the bow of the after seeing some kind of disturbance in the water ahead of me. I saw what looked like a thousand kokanee about 2 ft below the surface and they were parting like the Red Sea in front of my boat. I tried casting into them but they ignored my lure. I tried a long line and turning big circles to pull the lure through them but never got a bite. It never made sense to me because of their normal behavior and it was way too hot for them to like the surface, but there they were. Let's hope there are lots of fish and they are just hard to catch because of this odd behavior -- sounds better to me than too few fish.

furmaster
07-16-2019, 09:06 PM
Well, all I know is being fairly new to fishing these finicky fish. I sure do enjoy it. I love a challenge and by god this is one fore sure. From what I read.... when stacking a downrigger(which I donít do). The top line should have a further setback, because when the kokes decide not to hit the line off the ball, they usually tend to head upward. Then, you have more bait right in their face. I canít see why the planet boards wouldnít have the same results. I seen a well known guide on the lake running two drís and two planers. I figured itís because he had 4-5 clients, but I would love to know if those were getting hit more often.??

kokaneeds
07-17-2019, 12:21 AM
Furmaster, thanks for the insight! I have watched videos of guys jigging lake trout in multiple holes on a spread using the panoptix, the way they were able to watch the behavior of the fish coming in was incredible.

furmaster
07-17-2019, 10:55 AM
Itís pretty cool, I donít think it is putting any more fish in my cooler, but I know Iím in the right areas and depths I should be. I just think when these fish start heading deeper you will see more fish

kokanee64
07-18-2019, 05:50 PM
This morning (Thursday) we had our best fishing trip on BM this summer with 8 kokes that averaged 1.6 pounds. The largest was 2.1 lb. All fish showed some gill lice. We also caught several small lakers and browns.

We started fishing at 6 am in the Bay of Chickens and then went on to the Iron Works, where we caught our fish (I'll skip the Bay of chickens next time I'm out) starting at 6:30 am. Fish were hitting DRs at 25 and 27 ft, on an orange bead/spinner and a blue squid behind a blue dodger. As the morning progressed we fished deeper, getting hits at 33 and 36 when we quit at 10 am. LC caught a couple of fish at 4-5 colors and at 8 colors on a purple spinner/bead lure behind a purple dodger. Next trip we'll probably stack the downriggers, as the fish are getting kind of deep for LC unless we have 100 yards of line out, which makes actually catching a salmon kind of tricky. We've been fishing with small lights immediately ahead of the dodger and it seems to help a little -- maybe. Still no signs of schooling salmon.

Morning temps were in the mid 40s and the water is 67, unchanged for quite some time.

We won't be able to get out again until Tues or Wed of next week, so anyone who has success please share so we can follow your advice next week.

9741

furmaster
07-18-2019, 08:25 PM
That is great news, I was thinkin about going over there this weekend. The small lights you referenced....like the lights most people including me use for jigging? Nice to hear they are dropping down a bit. I think it makes them easier to find.
Congratulations on your outing!!!

furmaster
07-22-2019, 01:21 PM
Went out yesterday and ended up with 4. Lost probably 4-6. And 3 trout. Most of morning I ran some blue beads with silver dodger from 20-35 ft. Later in day fish dropped between 40-65ft. Seemed chartreuse was doing better down there. The fish are starting to school up.
This was all at Iron works. Lots of boats running around, especially those water skiers that think itís fun to ski through all the boats

kokanee64
07-25-2019, 03:08 PM
Fishing is still slow on Blue Mesa.

The temp this morning at 5:15 was 50F at Neversink and water temperature remains the same at 67F. Based on a tip from our friend Willie, we started on the S shore of Cebolla, about a mile west of the mouth of Cebolla creek. We picked up 3 nice kokes, two in the first 40 minutes and one not long before we quit at 9:30. We fished DRs at 30, 35, 40 and 45 ft and caught two salmon at 45 on orange and 1 salmon at 30 on purple, in addition to too many small lakers. The three salmon averaged 1.9 lb.

We are seeing lots of boats around the Iron Work and several of the boats obviously expected to jig for schooled salmon. We aren't seeing schools around the 80 ft depth, or anything that looks like a school. We see plenty of fish between 60 and 90 ft but all we get trolling those depths are small lakers. Some of the males are showing modest hook jaws and a female this morning was the first I've seen with eggs showing some growth.

The lake is over-full at 7519 ft, 1 ft below full pool and 99.7% of capacity. At this level large trees along the shore are at risk of drowning. We saw a 20 ft, 3 ft diameter tree trunk with lots of branches floating in the middle of the Cebolla basin; a Park Service boat with three non-law enforcement rangers passed within 50 yards of it twice. We've been starting a little later this summer to avoid such hazards in the dark -- and it isn't as if there is a first thing in the morning bite to lure us out of bed 20 minutes earlier. On the other hand, it was a beautiful sunrise, we had perfect fishing conditions, and we're having grilled salmon for dinner.

furmaster
07-25-2019, 10:46 PM
I have yet to catch a koke before the sun comes up. Missed a few, but couldnt be 100% they werenít trout. Honestly I have had more action at 2-3 pm than any other time. Just sayin.

furmaster
07-30-2019, 09:55 PM
So last night I wrote a 1000 word report on here on my weekend (might be exagerating a bit) I went to submit reply and it had kicked me out and wanted me to log back in...lost it all.
Anyways in less words. Fished both days this weekend, almost sank boat in storm, caught 8 Kokanee, lost a few, caught 10,000 lake trout.
Not in a great hurry to go back. Caught all fish early in day at 35-40ft. Blue beads and various dodgers. Marked some deeper schools, but couldnt get them to bite.

montroseone
07-31-2019, 10:48 AM
So last night I wrote a 1000 word report on here on my weekend (might be exagerating a bit) I went to submit reply and it had kicked me out and wanted me to log back in...lost it all.
Anyways in less words. Fished both days this weekend, almost sank boat in storm, caught 8 Kokanee, lost a few, caught 10,000 lake trout.
Not in a great hurry to go back. Caught all fish early in day at 35-40ft. Blue beads and various dodgers. Marked some deeper schools, but couldnt get them to bite.

What do you do with the many lake trout you catch. Keep them, kill them, what??

furmaster
07-31-2019, 03:37 PM
Return them to lake, although I did make sure to feed the bald eagle at the pinnacles with a couple.

montroseone
08-01-2019, 11:54 AM
Return them to lake, although I did make sure to feed the bald eagle at the pinnacles with a couple.

What size lake trout have you been catching? Is it a good idea to return them to the lake? I have read, I believe on this forum, that lake trout are devouring the kokanee fingerlings. True or not?

furmaster
08-01-2019, 01:32 PM
Lakers caught are between 1-4lbs. Iím sure they donít treat the kokes well. I should be dispatching these fish...just feels wastefull sometimes, but then again I have no issues shooting 500 prairie dogs a year. So no real reason that I release them I guess.

COfisherman
08-02-2019, 10:41 AM
We are going for a week next month. Only date we could get a camping spot at the KOA. Where we stay. The fish should be schooled up by then. Planning to take lots of jigs, is there a better color than orange and pink? Never been to BM this late in the year. Ordering some Blue and silver jigs, which jigs work best?
Wanting to go badlaugh hyst.
CH

furmaster
08-03-2019, 12:04 AM
Who knows with these fish. Prepare to try it all. My pink and white pline jig was my best overall last year but not everyday. I have my better days when I take the time to center over the schools exactly. Also scents have really upped my game. Iím not so sure color is as important as it might seem.

kokanee64
08-05-2019, 12:48 PM
We still haven't seen a substantial school of kokanees at around the 80 ft depth level but it should happen soon if it is going to happen this year. I have doubts whether there are enough fish to actually create a school but we plan to take the electric trolling motor and other jigging accessories out to the lake today just in case.

When jigging was hot and easy several years back almost any heavy lure worked well. Most people seemed to use Luhr Jensen Crippled Herrings, 1.5 oz, glow white w/ green stripe. I've also used much cheaper Cabella jigs that worked fine -- I gave a lot of them away to people who came up on us to ask how to set up for jigging. I replace the galvanized (and dull) single hook that comes with the jigs w/ a very sharp size 6 extra wide gap (EWG) treble hook -- I lose fewer fish with better hooks. When I can, I like to add the whisker things to the hooks. Practically any weight will work. I'm too impatient for the lure to hit 80 ft to use anything less 1.5 oz jigs. In the last couple of years we've seen lots of different brands. I'm with furmaster that color probably doesn't matter much -- at this depth science tells us that every color is grey, but that doesn't explain why blue and purple lures trolled at 80 ft deliver better than other colors this year. I think glow is important and I sometimes slip a large, glow tube jig over my lures without glow paint on them. I prefer 10 lb braided line and I tie in 2 ft of high vis yellow PowerPro braided line at 80 ft for easy depth management. As furmaster said above, scents can help a lot when the fish don't want to bite. I hate the slimy, stinky stuff and rarely use it. I encourage jiggers to try meal worms rather than corn or scents. We sometimes get bass like hits when we use meal worms. If fishing is slow I also recommend using a second rod dead stick if you have sufficient space on your boat. It is hard to know whether to use lights or not. Sometimes lights seem to scare fish away but other times it seems you can't catch a fish without a light. We still use the very bright C&H lights I found in a Cabellas salt water catalog about 10 years back, but we also use the new, dimmer lights that turn off and on from contact with the water.

The folks managing the fishery recommend not returning lake trout to the lake -- in other words, eat them or kill them. I've never liked killing fish unnecessarily but after seeing them nearly destroy the kokanee fishery in the past (and maybe now), I'm pretty cold-hearted with them. My wife really, really hates lakers and watching her smack them with a wooden club and cut a gill is almost scary -- that girl can carry a grudge about fish that eat salmon.

I'll also second furmaster's advice about taking time to get centered right above the fish. The schools can be so small that we sometimes catch fish from the center of the boat but not from the bow or stern. It can take some fussing to get the transducer pointing straight down. Good luck. Let's hope there are enough fish this year to create schools.

furmaster
08-05-2019, 07:10 PM
The last time I was out I was seeing some schools later in the day in that 75ft range. I found 4-5 of these schools. I hope that a lot more fish show up or else it will make for a rough jigging season.... and I look forward to it all year. I even built myself a new rod just jigging kokanee. If I can figure how to post a pic off my phone I will send a pic I took of these schools.

montroseone
08-06-2019, 08:13 PM
The last time I was out I was seeing some schools later in the day in that 75ft range. I found 4-5 of these schools. I hope that a lot more fish show up or else it will make for a rough jigging season.... and I look forward to it all year. I even built myself a new rod just jigging kokanee. If I can figure how to post a pic off my phone I will send a pic I took of these schools.

We have caught Kokanee while trolling, even when they are schooling. I assume only 3-4 year olds school up for the run up the river. Suppose some of them aren't in the big school where the scrum is and are in small schools or wandering around. The scrum is fun once or twice, but trying to catch kokanee without chasing the guides is challenging and more fun. We also keep and eat lake trout as well as others we catch. Jigging is fun if you can locate a school and stay over it. Seems as soon as you catch one, many other boats show up. Guess they don't have sonar or can't use it.

kokanee64
08-08-2019, 11:27 PM
Jigging has started but is quite slow so far.

Our friend Willie told us on Monday afternoon he had caught 3 salmon jigging, all three bang, bang, bang, then nothing. We were bringing out fuel and went out into the white caps to take a look. We found a small school and I also unthinkingly came too closely to a couple of guys jigging and probably washed them off anything they were over. It was a good reminder that most people aren't intentionally mean but all of us are thoughtless at times. Sorry who ever you were.

We went out Tuesday around 9 and saw quite a few very small schools. We were able to stay right on top of several schools but never had a bite and never felt a fish bump a line, which is very common when you put a jig into a school.

We went out today - Thursday - at the same time and Mary had two good bites and dragged one fish about half way up before her shoulder gave out and the fish used the slack to sneak away. Willie reported no bites / no fish, and the same was true for Andy and Sue. All three are experienced jiggers. It happens.

The first photo was taken right in front of the Iron Work and US 50, in pretty shallow water. The left side shows the wide cone sonar shot and the right shows the very narrow cone shot. I put my rod in a holder and brought my jigs from it and the my dead stick rod above the school, which you can see on the right side. The next photo is in deeper water over the Gunnison River channel. The first photo shows a school only 5 ft in depth while the second school was 10 ft thick. Both schools were very small. We stayed on them for over 15 minutes and felt nothing except for Mary's two bites. That seemed to be par for the other 20ish boats -- we saw no fish caught.


9790 9791

Finally, the photo below shows some of our go-to jigs, none of which has caught us a fish this year.

9792

We have no idea what is going to happen next. Good luck.

MMDON
08-09-2019, 10:00 PM
Thanks for the report. Ever since becoming a hard deck addict (Ice fishing), I love jigging for kokes!

kokanee64
08-14-2019, 10:58 PM
Slow Jigging

We took friends and their grandson jigging on Friday. We got on several schools and stayed on them long enough to irritate the fish, but no luck until suddenly Mary hooked a first and then a second salmon. The grandson got to reel one up from the depths, plus drive the boat up and down the lake, and the day went down as a success. Ok, so maybe benchmarks are a little low right now; we take the W when we get one. We skipped the weekend but tried again on Monday. We searched vigilantly but never found a school large enough to temp wetting a line.

I've not wanted to say anything for fear of even more jinxing, but I've noticed over the course of the summer than the few fish we have caught show more and more gill lice and the summer progressed. Early in the summer some fish appeared lice free based on a casual look. The two fish caught on Friday were overloaded with gill lice -- impossible to miss. I'll leave it to others to speculate what this might mean for future years. This year is already in the books as the worst in 20 years.

COfisherman
09-05-2019, 08:42 PM
Ok Mary and I are loading the Motor Home for our week long trip(9/12-leaving 9-20) to the Blue Masa hoping to put a few in the freezer for this winter. Will be doing some trolling, but looking for a school to jig. It has been tough for the Kokanee here on the east side. Only taken a dozen or so from 11 Mile. I think the Pike and Browns have hurt Kokanee fishing as much as any lake trout pond has suffered. Been doing my part, targeting Browns and broom stick pike they get gilled and dropped back in the lake,the pike. Yes it is legal in fact the rangers ask you not to return the pike, of any size. If we can get a few Laker Pups we will smoke them Mary likes candy smoked trout a lot. Me not so much. We will be a he KOA in Gunnison. If any of you are up there drop by. Just look for my Black&White Lund.
Take care and good luck.
CH

furmaster
09-05-2019, 11:23 PM
Trolling might be the ticket early, but come about 9 I would be on the jigging rods. Me and my dad fished both days this last weekend and managed to put a few 2 man limits in the cooler. 75-95ft and schools arenít real hard to find, although I wonder how long they will stick around. Weather permitting I will be there Sunday. Maybe Iíll see you there.
Good luck to ya!!!

COfisherman
09-14-2019, 07:53 PM
Well we made it out to the lake today and saw a fellow forum member. Looked like knew what he was doing.
Iíll let him give the report since Mom and I didnít eve get bumped pewee the smell as in skunked.🤬tongue2101chromefish101. Fish are acting weird guess it must have been the full moon last night.
CH at The Blue Mesa.

furmaster
09-15-2019, 03:19 PM
The full moon should drive most these fish up the river. The fish were acting really weird yesterday morning. They wouldnít sit still...which is typical early in the morning but yesterday it was at least 11am before we could sit on a school longer than 10mins. I think they are all ready to go party up river. They werenít spooking away, they were just moving around a lot.. My dad and I did meet Cofisherman as well. He has one sweet boat!!! Good luck to ya on the rest of your trip!!
We did get over one nice school just as wind started picking up and finally left with 8 fish.
Jigging season was better than I expected after a slow trolling season. But I think I have made my last trip to ďthe blueĒ for this year or until ice season.

Cofisherman....you have a private message!!

kokanee64
10-17-2019, 02:29 PM
Nothing says the season is over like putting the winter cover on a winterized boat, which was yesterday's project for us.

While I feel like we had a winning fishing season at our house, it was a hard fought year. At the start of the season I was on oxygen 24/7 and everything was a little more complicated. When we weren't fishing as much as we would have liked, and couldn't give much in the way of fishing reports, several of you posted on your trips. Thank you, I enjoyed reading your reports and they helped us catch more fish on our next trip. By jigging season I was breathing well at 8000 ft but my hip, which I had earlier scheduled for replacement on Nov 12 so as not to mess up the fishing season, was causing more discomfort, so we didn't fish as much. Besides, we had some big projects to handle at home that competed with fishing time, and the projects won out over slow fishing at Blue Mesa. Again, reports from a bunch of you helped the rest of us do better at jigging and fishing at Blue Mesa. Again, my thanks.

We managed 2 weeks in the spring and 1 week in the fall camping up the San Juan at Lake Powell. Fishing for us was just as slow at Lake Powell as it was at Blue Mesa, but we didn't really care that much, and had a wonderful time anyway. Looking back, I can't say we had a single hot day of fishing this year at BM or LP, and we didn't even have very many good days. But a season of mediocre fishing is way better than not fishing at all, and we went fishing this summer. I hope you did too. Lets all fish more days and catch more fish next year.

Kokanee64

SuperD
10-17-2019, 04:36 PM
Mediocre fishing days is Godís way of humbling us and showing us just how spoiled we get. I was able to catch a couple of bucket list fish this year, Tarpon, Dorado and Tuna. The rest of the season did seem rather average or maybe just below that but lots of good memories were still made. We also added a member to the crew this summer, Bella the wonder dog. That was a first for me too.

MMDON
10-26-2019, 01:35 AM
Sounds like you did good just getting on the water! Hope your hip is better next year and makes it easier to get around! Thanks for reporting!