The Winter time fishermen. The guys that brave freezing temperatures, pouring rain, snow, and everything else mother nature can dish out just at the hopes of a fish. During the short days of summer most fishermen can be found chasing that elusive grey ghost, the Steelhead. But when the rivers are blown out or the fishing is slow, I have found a pass time that allows me to stay warm under the cover of my boat, Kokanee fishing.

I know what you're thinking, Kokanee is a Spring time fishery. But I have found a way over the last few winters to motivate these little chrome rockets to bite when the water temps are in the low 40's. Cold water Koke's are a totally different fish then they will be in a few months when the weather warms. Because of their lower metabolism and overall sluggishness the way you present your offering has to be changed. Now remember, these fish are moving very slow in the cool water temps. I keep my speeds in the 1.2-1.4 mph range and do lots of turns. Most of your fish will come on the inside rod. The lake I fish has an average depth of about 100 feet with a few shallow bays. During overcast days fish can be found all over the lake at depths from the surface down to 60+. The fish at the deeper depths are very hard to persuade to bite and I usually keep my gear within the top 10-15 feet of the water column. On most days too when the wind is calm you will see Kokanee jumping, this works in our favor. I will go around the fish and turn into them allowing my gear to move through the area of the fish and this usually results in multiple hook ups. Sometime you will also notice those jumping fish will now follow your gear for a ways. This is when you want to start doing S-turns and see if you can pick out the aggressive ones. On those rare days when the sun is out and its warm something cool happens. The sun warms the water slightly in the shallower bays, only if its a few degrees, and allows plankton and other organism to grow and feed. I will concentrate my fishing efforts on the edges of these spots were the start to drop off into deeper water as the Kokanee will be in these areas trying to get a wintertime snack. Don’t be afraid to get into less then 30 feet of water. This is also were those big wintertime Rainbows will be holding and will readily grab a Kokanee presentation. Now that you may have found the fish, what do winter time Kokes like to hit?

When I am fishing early season Kokanee I run very long set backs, sometimes up to 150' behind the boat. This does two things, it allows you do do the “turn in” maneuver I described above. It also allows the VERY boat shy Kokanee some time to calm down after the boat spooks them and hopefully get aggressive towards your presentation. This is a great time to use the “Double D” Dodger from Mack's Lure. This dodger has four different attachment points that allows it to act as a side planner and gets your gear out away from the side of the boat, combine this with long set backs and you have the recipe for a great day of fishing. On a normal day I will be running 4-6 rods out of my boat. I will run two rods off the down rigger at depths between 5 to 15 feet. I will run Double D dodgers clipped on the inside holes. This allows them to plane out a little but not interfere with the other rods I am going to run on the surface. On my top line rods I run the Double D Dodger clipped on the outside hole. I will clip a little 1/4-1/2 oz weight on the snap right in front of the dodger. I do this by running the snap through the top of the dodger first ( the side with the tape) then I attach the weight so its on the bottom of the dodger. This allows for a compact set up, and you can easily pull the weight off and run that rod on the downrigger. My favorite Dodger Colors are Silver and Gold during the Winter and I shy away from UV finishes.

One of the most crucial things I have found out during the cold months is to keep your lures small. You can catch fish on Wedding Rings and Hoochies but if you drop down to a “Micro” type bait your success will be much better. The Mini Kokanee Pro's by Mack's work amazing during this time. Another one of my favorite is to take a super micro hoochie in either pink or orange, and add two small beads topped with a .8” Smile blade in either Silver Scale or Pink Silver Tiger. I then run these lures on a 14” 12 pound Flourocarbon leader tied with 2 size 4 red hooks. I like using the heavier line to translate some more action on the lure with the longer leader length. I then tip each hook with one piece of White Shoepeg corn. I usually marinate my corn in a choice scent the night before I go fish. This allows the corn to really soak up the flavor and doesn’t require any additional scent while on the water. Keep your hands clean and scent free with some citrus soap when you are baiting your hooks. And be sure to check your gear every 15 to 20 minutes! Nothing is worse then missing a soft bite and trolling around without any bait on for who knows how long.

While Fishing for Kokanee in the dead of Winter doesn't offer the multiple hook ups and easy limits that happen during the spring, it can offer an exciting fishery that can help cure some of that cabin fever. And as said before, trout will also be very scrappy and willing biters. Nothing is more fun then catching on of those hold overs on a light Kokanee rod.

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Hope everyone had a great New Years and tight lines!

Zack McGlothern
“ The Koke Addict”