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Thread: Headed for the End of the Road

  1. #26
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
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    Gunnison, CO
    Posts
    130

    Default Our Summer Fishing Part 2

    Part 2


    While I can’t say why our luck was so good, I can share one technique that works – some of the time. In 2001 when we first got a boat (a 16ft Boston Whaler Dauntless), my dad and I learned how to fish for kokanees on Blue Mesa using leadcore line and later using manual downriggers. My dad would routinely grab the leadcore line right below the first rod guide and pull it down 18 inches or so, and then release it. Every once in while that was quickly followed by a bite. We did the same thing by pulling on a downrigger line, lifting the weight a foot or so, and letting the weight settle. Does it work? If jerking randomly, success will depend on an equally random chance that a fish is there to watch the lure speed forward and then stop for a second or two, making the lure easy to bite. Too many low frequency random variables leads to low success rates. We don’t do random. Mary drives our boat and she knows how to hunt kokanee. Once she finds kokanee she pulls our lures through them again and again. Kokanee hang out together, not randomly, and she works areas with fish. She drives in S patterns to tempt fish with modestly increase and decrease speeds. Then she “jerks up a fish.” Mary will be driving and see fish at 57 feet deep. There is no rush because it will take a minute or so for the lure to reach the fish. (At 1.2 mph it takes a minute to travel 106 feet and our lures are typically 80+ feet behind the release.). She waits to let the lures to approach the fish, and then walks back and gives the downrigger line a series of quick jerks. When the rod bounces with a bite she takes the slack out of the line and catches a fish. If it doesn’t bounce, she does the same on the other downrigger. She jerked lines several hundred times this summer and fish bit regularly. Sometimes she doesn’t wait long enough after jerking a line before going to the other side of the boat. I swoop in behind her and catch the fish for her. I also jerk the lines to her commands but she induces bites better than me. What is surprising is that after jerking up dozens of fish in front of near-by boats we have never seen anyone copy this technique. It works, just not every time.

    So I guess what I’ve learned about kokanee fishing last summer is that every lucky boat has its own system of speed and lure and dodgers and line lengths and secret sauces and sometimes jerking fish and a whole lot more. I know plenty of very successful fishermen who build their systems around higher speeds, designed to get reaction strikes. There have been times when we watched faster boats with envy, their rods popping while we jerked unresponsive lines. Last summer our magic was working and we’re grateful. I hope your system works for you; experiment if it doesn’t.



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  2. #27
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Gunnison, CO
    Posts
    130

    Default Our Summer Fishing Part 2

    Part 2

    While I can’t say why our luck was so good, I can share one technique that works – some of the time. In 2001 when we first got a boat (a 16ft Boston Whaler Dauntless), my dad and I learned how to fish for kokanees on Blue Mesa using leadcore line and later using manual downriggers. My dad would routinely grab the leadcore line right below the first rod guide and pull it down 18 inches or so, and then release it. Every once in while that was quickly followed by a bite. We did the same thing by pulling on a downrigger line, lifting the weight a foot or so, and letting the weight settle. Does it work? If jerking randomly, success will depend on an equally random chance that a fish is there to watch the lure speed forward and then stop for a second or two, making the lure easy to bite. Too many low frequency random variables leads to low success rates. We don’t do random. Mary drives our boat and she knows how to hunt kokanee. Once she finds kokanee she pulls our lures through them again and again. Kokanee hang out together, not randomly, and she works areas with fish. She drives in S patterns to tempt fish with modestly increase and decrease speeds. Then she “jerks up a fish.” Mary will be driving and see fish at 57 feet deep. There is no rush because it will take a minute or so for the lure to reach the fish. (At 1.2 mph it takes a minute to travel 106 feet and our lures are typically 80+ feet behind the release.). She waits to let the lures approach the fish, and then walks back and gives the downrigger line a series of quick jerks. When the rod bounces with a bite she takes the slack out of the line and catches a fish. If it doesn’t bounce, she does the same on the other downrigger. She jerked lines several hundred times this summer and fish bit regularly. Sometimes she doesn’t wait long enough after jerking a line before going to the other side of the boat. I swoop in behind her and catch the fish for her. I also jerk the lines to her commands but she induces bites better than me. What is surprising is that after jerking up dozens of fish in front of near-by boats we have never seen anyone copy this technique. It works, just not every time.



    So I guess what I’ve learned about kokanee fishing last summer is that every lucky boat has its own system of speed and lure and dodgers and line lengths and secret sauces and sometimes jerking fish and a whole lot more. I know plenty of very successful fishermen who build their systems around higher speeds, designed to get reaction strikes. There have been times when we watched faster boats with envy, their rods popping while we jerked unresponsive lines. Last summer our magic was working and we’re grateful. I hope your system works for you; experiment if it doesn’t.




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  3. #28
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Gunnison, CO
    Posts
    130

    Default Our Summer Fishing Part 3



    Part 3.

    Our last fishing trip was early September and fish were turning red. We were done at the Gorge. By the end of September it was cool enough to give Lake Powell a shot. We skipped the spring trips to Powell because of the mud – the mud line was 40+ miles down lake from the mouth of the Colorado. The drive to Powell is a little longer than to Manila but well worth the travel. We were a little early and spend two nights in the Bullfrog campground waiting for the wind to moderate – winds at LP can be worse than those on FG. Once on the water we headed 40 miles southwest to the junction with the San Juan, then 20 miles up the San Juan to the Piute creek area. It is only a few miles through shallowing water to the head of the San Juan and Navajo Mountain is just up the creek. We rarely see or hear others up the San Juan. A boat goes by once or twice a day but most fishermen are intimidated by the 120 mile round trip from Bullfrog and even longer trip from Page. Eight days of perfect pleasure and I love a long boat trip. We’ve had hotter bass fishing but luck was still with us and we caught plenty of smaller small mouth bass and a few 2+ lb smallies and large mouth bass. Limits are high because fishery managers want to remove more of the 1.25 pound and smaller fish; and we do our part, coming home with over 80 filleted fish. Even the smallest fish we keep are fabulous on fish tacos. The larger fish, lightly breaded and fried, are a guilty indulgence. We considered a second fall trip but family took higher priority and we were more than satisfied by the first trip.

    My health remains good – cancer remains at bay and medicine has made a couple of big advances in treating prostate cancer since I was diagnosed 5 years ago and given 3 to 5 years to live. For the first time since this all started I have a Plan C to follow Plans A and B, the ones currently keeping me healthy. The heart ablation I had done in November for Afib (easy-peasy) and the Covid I’m recovering from now (not easy-peasy) are just things to be gotten through. I often think about Pauli’s advice, to “Finish Strong”, and it helps get me up and moving with a solid, positive attitude. I am grateful for that. I am grateful for so many things.

    We expect to spend plenty of time fishing Flaming Gorge this coming summer. I somehow doubt that our magic lures will still possess magic by next summer, and we will have the pleasure of experimenting until we find what works. We will be camping on the water and especially in a slip in the Lucerne Valley Marina. Stop by afternoons if you are in the area. We have fishing stories to tell, some true, some semi-true, some aspirationally true.




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  4. #29
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Gunnison, CO
    Posts
    130

    Default When, Where and How We Fish

    In my family we believe the early fishermen catch the fish. For over 15 years our experience at Blue Mesa confirmed the adage and in the 2018 Blue Mesa Fishing Report I showed some fish catching frequencies that supported the belief. We believe in what has proven to work for us. We are both math people. Then we fished Navajo Reservoir in New Mexico and found some kokanee like to sleep in. The same turned out to be true at Fontenelle and Flaming Gorge. The kokanee wait for the sun; only trout (rainbow at Fontenelle, macks at the Gorge) keep our hours. We still get on the water early and sometimes, maybe, the bite makes it worthwhile. The sunrise from the water always makes it worthwhile.

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    In addition to fishing earlier, we like fishing in the shade. That makes narrow canyons like at the junction of Sheep Creek with the Green attractive for quite a while in the morning. Another early morning haunt is north of the gas pipeline, along the east side cliffs. We don’t catch a lot of salmon there but it has produced some of our larger fish. One day this past summer we had started in the Red Cliff Bay, just down river from the Horse Shoe Canyon and the short cut, and weren’t doing very well. Most of the other boats left, and then at about 11:30 fishing turned on. We tried that many times later in the summer and found the fishing turned on at 1130 and was hot for a couple of hours. Who knew?

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    We didn’t have much luck in Hideout Bay and our favorite spot in the area, the blind turn at the upstream end of Hideout Bay, is too risky. We can’t fish it anymore; there are simply too many stupid boat drivers for this to be safe. In the past we’ve had luck at Rawlings but never found schooled up fish there last summer. It is a huge area. We sometimes fished the narrows south of the pipeline but it is always hit hard and those fish have seen too many lures. I wish we had found a spot in Anvil but so far the fish in that huge area are safe from us. In August we started launching at Buckboard and fishing the Breeze Hill area a couple of miles downstream. We got there early in order to catch our daily mackinaw but the fishing never got hot until the sun was well up. There are some big fish around Breeze in August.

    When we started kokanee fishing we followed local wisdom and got heavy, yellow Eagle Claw rods and deep sea sized reels spooled up with 20 pound leadcore line. It was like fishing with a pool cue and rope. Plenty of people used heavy lake trolls and catching a 1.5 pound salmon on that kind of set up wasn’t much fun. I stumbled across some blue, Ugly Stick knock off rods with soft tips at Cabelas and made smaller bait casting reels work by using 10 pound test leadcore, only spooling on 6 colors. When we added Walker manual downriggers, I paired them with Cabela’s 10 – 12 pound Fish Eagle II spinning rods and Shimano reels. We use PowerPro braided line with a 12 ft of fluorocarbon 15 pound leader. At the 80 foot point (including the leader), I cut the line and tie in a few feet of yellow PowerPro. When letting out line (much faster on a spinning reel), I can feel the knots at 80 ft when they pass through the line guides and I know when to close the bail. All of our four lures are 80 feet behind the boat, a nice fleet of close together lures providing plenty of simultaneous targets. The reels need at least 160 feet of capacity for 10 pound PowerPro. There is an old rule of thumb called the 100 foot rule to use when trolling; let out 80 feet of line before clipping the line in the release when fishing at 20 feet deep. Let 30 feet of line out before clipping the release when fishing 70 feet deep. You only need a little over 100 feet of line on the reel with the rule of 100. We always let out 80 or more feet of line before clipping regardless of the depth. If fishing shallow, say at Fontenelle, I let out 100 feet minimum before clipping. Our rule is get the lures away from the boat.

    When we tell experienced kokanee fishermen that we use braided line they think we are crazy. Conventional wisdom says you need mono line with lots of stretch and a long, bendy rod (and maybe a snubber too) so you don’t pull the hook out of the soft mouths of kokanee. We use treble hooks (another heresy) and rarely lose a kokanee once the hook sets with the line still in the clip.

    One of the tricks I like to use when laying out a floor for tile or making sure a stub wall is square to the other wall is the 3,4,5 triangle. For a 90 degree triangle with legs of 3 ft and 4 ft, the hypotenuse is 5 ft. It is easy to cut this from a sheet of plywood and have an accurate, huge triangle. Friends of math will recognize this is easily proven with Pythagorean Theorem. You can scale up these dimensions for fishing with downriggers. If I set a downrigger 60 ft deep and with a drop behind the downrigger clip of 80 feet, the hypotenuse (the distance from the boat to the fish) is 100 feet. Note that the 3,4,5 were all multiplied by 20. I also have 140 feet of line out, so when I pull the line out of the release I have 40 feet of line slack and have to reel like crazy to get it out. This is a common time to lose the fish. But we rarely lose a fish at this point because the treble hook typically has at least two hooks set and they don’t fall out like a single hook can do with a little slack. Once I have the slack out of the line and since have no line stretch with braided line and a fairly stiff rod, I can thoroughly set the hook again. I can also feel every pull and tug distinctly, so I know when to reel and when to let a fish fight the rod and wear down. A 4 pound salmon on light spinning equipment and braided line is a hoot. And no, we rarely pull the hook from the soft mouth of a salmon when using a treble hook. For those who prefer to leave math in the distant path, I’ll provide a cheat sheet showing the downrigger depth and the amount of line slack assuming an 80 ft drop behind the release: [20 ft down, 18 ft slack], [30, 25], [40, 31], [50, 36], [60, 40], and [70, 44].

    At this point I’m sure some experienced kokanee fishermen are wondering if we do anything the normal way. The answer is mostly “No” because we have found a system that works better for us than conventional wisdom. Mary and I both like messing around with numbers and data, and we go with what works for us over the recommended way, which too often doesn’t work as well for us. We experiment a lot and keep records if it isn’t clear which way works best.

    My next post will be about the dodger and lure setups that worked well for us last summer.


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  5. #30

    Default Well written and good information as usual!

    Quote Originally Posted by kokanee64 View Post
    In my family we believe the early fishermen catch the fish. For over 15 years our experience at Blue Mesa confirmed the adage and in the 2018 Blue Mesa Fishing Report I showed some fish catching frequencies that supported the belief. We believe in what has proven to work for us. We are both math people. Then we fished Navajo Reservoir in New Mexico and found some kokanee like to sleep in. The same turned out to be true at Fontenelle and Flaming Gorge. The kokanee wait for the sun; only trout (rainbow at Fontenelle, macks at the Gorge) keep our hours. We still get on the water early and sometimes, maybe, the bite makes it worthwhile. The sunrise from the water always makes it worthwhile.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_1889.jpg 
Views:	26 
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ID:	10326

    In addition to fishing earlier, we like fishing in the shade. That makes narrow canyons like at the junction of Sheep Creek with the Green attractive for quite a while in the morning. Another early morning haunt is north of the gas pipeline, along the east side cliffs. We don’t catch a lot of salmon there but it has produced some of our larger fish. One day this past summer we had started in the Red Cliff Bay, just down river from the Horse Shoe Canyon and the short cut, and weren’t doing very well. Most of the other boats left, and then at about 11:30 fishing turned on. We tried that many times later in the summer and found the fishing turned on at 1130 and was hot for a couple of hours. Who knew?

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_2957.jpg 
Views:	32 
Size:	88.2 KB 
ID:	10327

    We didn’t have much luck in Hideout Bay and our favorite spot in the area, the blind turn at the upstream end of Hideout Bay, is too risky. We can’t fish it anymore; there are simply too many stupid boat drivers for this to be safe. In the past we’ve had luck at Rawlings but never found schooled up fish there last summer. It is a huge area. We sometimes fished the narrows south of the pipeline but it is always hit hard and those fish have seen too many lures. I wish we had found a spot in Anvil but so far the fish in that huge area are safe from us. In August we started launching at Buckboard and fishing the Breeze Hill area a couple of miles downstream. We got there early in order to catch our daily mackinaw but the fishing never got hot until the sun was well up. There are some big fish around Breeze in August.

    When we started kokanee fishing we followed local wisdom and got heavy, yellow Eagle Claw rods and deep sea sized reels spooled up with 20 pound leadcore line. It was like fishing with a pool cue and rope. Plenty of people used heavy lake trolls and catching a 1.5 pound salmon on that kind of set up wasn’t much fun. I stumbled across some blue, Ugly Stick knock off rods with soft tips at Cabelas and made smaller bait casting reels work by using 10 pound test leadcore, only spooling on 6 colors. When we added Walker manual downriggers, I paired them with Cabela’s 10 – 12 pound Fish Eagle II spinning rods and Shimano reels. We use PowerPro braided line with a 12 ft of fluorocarbon 15 pound leader. At the 80 foot point (including the leader), I cut the line and tie in a few feet of yellow PowerPro. When letting out line (much faster on a spinning reel), I can feel the knots at 80 ft when they pass through the line guides and I know when to close the bail. All of our four lures are 80 feet behind the boat, a nice fleet of close together lures providing plenty of simultaneous targets. The reels need at least 160 feet of capacity for 10 pound PowerPro. There is an old rule of thumb called the 100 foot rule to use when trolling; let out 80 feet of line before clipping the line in the release when fishing at 20 feet deep. Let 30 feet of line out before clipping the release when fishing 70 feet deep. You only need a little over 100 feet of line on the reel with the rule of 100. We always let out 80 or more feet of line before clipping regardless of the depth. If fishing shallow, say at Fontenelle, I let out 100 feet minimum before clipping. Our rule is get the lures away from the boat.

    When we tell experienced kokanee fishermen that we use braided line they think we are crazy. Conventional wisdom says you need mono line with lots of stretch and a long, bendy rod (and maybe a snubber too) so you don’t pull the hook out of the soft mouths of kokanee. We use treble hooks (another heresy) and rarely lose a kokanee once the hook sets with the line still in the clip.

    One of the tricks I like to use when laying out a floor for tile or making sure a stub wall is square to the other wall is the 3,4,5 triangle. For a 90 degree triangle with legs of 3 ft and 4 ft, the hypotenuse is 5 ft. It is easy to cut this from a sheet of plywood and have an accurate, huge triangle. Friends of math will recognize this is easily proven with Pythagorean Theorem. You can scale up these dimensions for fishing with downriggers. If I set a downrigger 60 ft deep and with a drop behind the downrigger clip of 80 feet, the hypotenuse (the distance from the boat to the fish) is 100 feet. Note that the 3,4,5 were all multiplied by 20. I also have 140 feet of line out, so when I pull the line out of the release I have 40 feet of line slack and have to reel like crazy to get it out. This is a common time to lose the fish. But we rarely lose a fish at this point because the treble hook typically has at least two hooks set and they don’t fall out like a single hook can do with a little slack. Once I have the slack out of the line and since have no line stretch with braided line and a fairly stiff rod, I can thoroughly set the hook again. I can also feel every pull and tug distinctly, so I know when to reel and when to let a fish fight the rod and wear down. A 4 pound salmon on light spinning equipment and braided line is a hoot. And no, we rarely pull the hook from the soft mouth of a salmon when using a treble hook. For those who prefer to leave math in the distant path, I’ll provide a cheat sheet showing the downrigger depth and the amount of line slack assuming an 80 ft drop behind the release: [20 ft down, 18 ft slack], [30, 25], [40, 31], [50, 36], [60, 40], and [70, 44].

    At this point I’m sure some experienced kokanee fishermen are wondering if we do anything the normal way. The answer is mostly “No” because we have found a system that works better for us than conventional wisdom. Mary and I both like messing around with numbers and data, and we go with what works for us over the recommended way, which too often doesn’t work as well for us. We experiment a lot and keep records if it isn’t clear which way works best.

    My next post will be about the dodger and lure setups that worked well for us last summer.


    Click image for larger version. 

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    I enjoyed reading and learning from the post. I liked your idea of the "knot/length of line" at your preferred set-back length - that makes things easy. Like you, we have not experienced the ultra soft mouths of the kokes. I may spool up some of our reels with braid and give it a try. Should be able to see the bites/hits easier with braid. You use a fluorocarbon leader prior to the dodger/lure - i was wondering why? I have heard that kokes are not leader shy - have you found differently or is there another reason?

    Look forward to seeing you guys on the water or at camp this next season! Have a great year. Gary

  6. #31
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Gunnison, CO
    Posts
    130

    Default mono leader and other crazy ideas

    Hey Gary and others,

    Whey I read your question about mono leader my first answer was "bad habits?" I've always done it that way. Maybe it helps to have a little stretch when a fish goes crazy at the boat. Maybe I believe kokanee are more line (and other) sensitive than most people believe. I am certain that when Mary is bringing a fish in and wondering if I'll ever show up with the net, she can say "in the leader" and I'll come running cause the fish is 12 feet from the rod tip.

    When there are a bajillion salmon schooled up and we are dragging lures through them, we infer a lot about fish behavior -- they are aggressively territorial, not line shy, not boat and motor shy, etc. When Blue Mesa went from over a million salmon in the lake to a few tens of thousands, the behavior seemed quite different. We routinely caught quick limits dragging just a 1.25 inch needle fish through thick schools. Eventually we found we had to have dodgers and scents and such. The behavior seemed quite different but I doubt the fish changed. Back 5 or so years I was watching an underwater YouTube video of salmon taken at Berrysea lake, or something like that, in California. What I saw is that salmon are REALLY bad at hitting a lure. It often took 4 or 5 chances and it was common to see a fish give up after striking out a couple of times. If this is true, imagine how different it would feel, and how different our inferences about fish would be, dragging through a dense school and dragging through a few isolated fish. And it gets worse. The areas where we fish and the same areas everyone else is fishing too. How do I get them to bite my lures when they aren't biting other peoples' lures? One way is to drive slow and set up the dodger/lure so that it reliably stops for a second or so each swing. Make it easy for not very talented fish to get your lure it their mouth. And I assume they are shy in every way a fish can be shy.

    I'll have to write about lures and such but first I have to find the 30 or so dodger/lure set that we used all last summer but are now on walk about or hiding in the garage. Three determined searches haven't worked so far. More later

    Roger

  7. #32
    Join Date
    Feb 2024
    Posts
    3

    Default

    Your story is incredibly moving and inspiring. Your journey from the small adventures of childhood to the larger explorations of life's end-of-the-road moments is a testament to resilience for sure.
    I look forward to reading your posts about your fishing and boating adventures..

  8. #33
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Gunnison, CO
    Posts
    130

    Default

    hey leonidas90, Thanks. Roger

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