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Thread: State of the Kokanee at Nantahala Lake

  1. #1
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    Default State of the Kokanee at Nantahala Lake

    To date I have only heard of 3 Kokanee being caught at Nantahala during the 2017 season(none larger than 14"). Most of the fishermen/fisher women who targeted the Kokanee, including myself are targeting other species and/or have moved on to fish other lakes. I have heard of a number of larger trout being taking at the lake possibly a result of the blueback herring added to their diet.

    Trout fishing at Calderwood reservoir has been hot for me especially in the vicinity of Calderwood dam trolling spoons and spinners 5' to 15' down.

    Getting back to the Kokanee, the state and local concerned fisher persons are going to try to monitor the upcoming spawning run up the Nantahala River late September through October. That should give us an idea of about how many kokes are left in the lake. Perhaps the tenacious Kokanee will rebound in future years. The Kokanee and blueback might be able to coexist but the size of to kokes will probably be much smaller than the large ones that have been harvested to last 10 years. Less people targeting them might also help them rebound. It will also be interesting to see what the state will do for the Kokanee and Nantahala Lake in the future. With all the bluebacks present is a trophy trout lake in the future? Next spring I plan to target the kokes in hope of a rebound but the rebound if any might take several years.

    I would appreciate any information regarding the fate of the kokanee or Nantahala Lake.
    "There's no losing in fishing. You either catch or you learn."

  2. #2
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    Default Kokanee???

    Hi Ron,Hope you're doing well and are out of Irma's path. I am heartsick over the Kokanee in Nantahala. I kept hoping I had just went on a tough day and everyone else was just missing the kokes. Unfortunately it looks like our fishery is in trouble. I hope they are still there and perhaps living off some other plankton or small critters. The day Greg and me were out there we saw plenty of herring. I was running my Waterwolf and the videos would be blacked out when I trolled under a school of herring. I think they are in just about every lake in the mountains now. Will and me were at Bear Lake recently and saw shad/herring on the surface and marked schools on the FF. I hope where the opportunities present the state will try to grow some big trout. The downfall is that walleyes and white bass suffer greatly from bluebacks, and trout reproduction also is negatively affected. I hope the sorry &$holes who released the bluebacks are happy and their bass get big and fat. They have in short order destroyed a world class kokanee fishery.

  3. #3

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    Does the state of NC even raise and stock kokanee? I though these fish are self sustaining.

    Will and me were at Bear Lake recently and saw shad/herring on the surface and marked schools on the FF.
    The state at one time I thought stocked shad into Bear Lake.
    Last edited by smokysteelhead; 01-25-2018 at 07:09 PM.

  4. #4
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by smokysteelhead View Post
    Does the state of NC even raise and stock kokanee? I though these fish are self sustaining.



    The state at one time I thought stocked shad into Bear Lake.
    Nantahala Lake kokanee salmon are all naturally reproducing. The kokanee at Nantahala have recently been plagued by drought and an infestation of plankton eating blueback herring. The pristine spawning grounds in the head waters on the Nantahala river still exist and the kokanee will probably still spawn in the fall. Because the large population of herring the mature kokanee may not be very large thus this fishery will collapse. With the large population of herring expect more large browns and rainbows to be caught at the lake. Only a die off of the herring will restore the great kokanee fishery at Nantahala. Expect the state to do little or nothing regarding the kokanee.
    "There's no losing in fishing. You either catch or you learn."

  5. #5
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    Default

    Hey Ron , Hope you and yours are doing well. I haven't talked to anyone at the state in a while,don't think they have any good ways to deal with the herring. I wish there would be a die off of the evil herring. If the herring numbers ever got knocked down,any kokanee left would probably flourish. Really would like to see something good happen for the kokes. I was late to the game fishing them wish I'd started years eariler. Take Care Ron ,see you this summer.

  6. #6

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    Sorry to hear that.

  7. #7

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    The silence on this site has me very worried. Are the Kokes still around? Has anyone given it a try yet this year? Was hoping to see a post or two (Ron, Mark, Fred...anyone?). My family will be back up on the lake the last week of June. I'm going to give them a try & fish for them a time or two because I'll be there, but already looking at alternative plans.

  8. #8
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    Default Stuck in Florida

    Doc

    I am still stuck in FL but hope to back at Nantahala Lake the end of the month to see whats happening with the Kokanee/blueback situation. I am looking forward to talking to some of the locals up there to see if the kokes are being caught this year. Now is prime time at nantahala. This may still be a recovery year for the kokes at Nantahala. There should be some big trout feeding on the bluebacks infesting the lake. With your boat, tackle and experience I would also give Santeetlah, Cheoah and Calderwood a shot. Plenty of trout in those lakes and they readily take Kokanee lures towed behind dodgers and flashers.
    "There's no losing in fishing. You either catch or you learn."

  9. #9
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    Default Headed to Nanty next Wed ( if all goes well)

    Hey Ron ,are you back at the lake? I'm heading out Wednsday with Greg ( TrollingNC). Hope to find a koke or twelve and a few big trout. Have you been fishing any or have you heard any reports? Amanda told me she didn't need any more fishheads ,so both our wives will be happy.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by trollmonkey View Post
    Hey Ron ,are you back at the lake? I'm heading out Wednsday with Greg ( TrollingNC). Hope to find a koke or twelve and a few big trout. Have you been fishing any or have you heard any reports? Amanda told me she didn't need any more fishheads ,so both our wives will be happy.
    Mark

    I am still in FL with some health issues and looks like by the time I make it back to Nantahala(hopefully not in an urn) the kokanee season will be just about over this season. I did speak with my neighbor (via email) up there at Nantahala(Larry) who fishes the Nantahala often and trolls and planner boards several times a week. He had yet to catch a koke this season. He said he did catch a number of larger trout and SM bass so far. He also said a local guide(Dale) is no longer booking Nantahala trips and is concentrating on other local lakes(Chatuge, Hiawassee etc.) No looking good for the kokes. Hoping you and the Doc can catch a few kokes to see if they are still present and surviving in the lake. Did Amanda have anything to say if the NCWC is doing anything or plans to do something for the Kokes? Let us know of the out come of your trip.

    Ron
    "There's no losing in fishing. You either catch or you learn."

  11. #11
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    Default

    Sorry to hear you're under the weather Ron. Hope you're up and at it soon . According to Amanda there isn't anything to do besides watch and wait. Doesn't appear any way to get rid of the bluebacks. It may be we end up with a lot of brown trout fisheries. I sure hope the kokes hang on.

  12. #12

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    Got up to the mountains Sat. and went straight to Hiwassee L. Caught some spots but didn't even mark a striper. Weather unsettled. Bad storms with high winds. Dealt with power outage & generator issues Sat. PM and Sun. AM so haven't fished Nantahala yet. Talked to 2 trollers coming back to ramp and neither had gotten a bite. Folks at the marina said they had not seen one yet this year! Doesn't look good. Went out to explore and take temp. readings late this PM and noted most schools of herring I ever seen on the surface. 4-5 schools up at a time between dam and marina. May troll tom. AM because I'm here, but scheduled to fish L. Chatuge on Tues. Water temp. readings if your interested are: 76 from surface to 10 ft., 71 @ 15', 66 @ 20', 64 @ 25', 62 @ 30', 61 @ 35', 59-60 @40-50', 57-58 @ 55-60', 56 @ 65', 54-55 from 70-80'.

  13. #13
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    Default Headed to Nanty next Wed ( if all goes well)

    Well got to the lake,fished all day. No Kokanee ,just got one 9" rainbow, We saw a few schools of herring but it really doesn"t seem like there are that many in the lake. We marked very little of anything. I'm wondering if something beyond the herring is affecting all the fish in the lake?
    Last edited by trollmonkey; 07-05-2018 at 08:10 PM.

  14. #14
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    Default Play Taps for the Kokanee?

    Quote Originally Posted by trollmonkey View Post
    Well got to the lake,fished all day. No Kokanee ,just got one 9" rainbow, We saw a few schools of herring but it really doesn"t seem like there are that many in the lake. We marked very little of anything. I'm wondering if someyhing beyond the herring is affecting all the fish in the lake?
    Mark

    Sorry to hear your report. Since the headwaters of the Nantahala river remain pristine, I am assuming the problem is not there. The recent droughts and forest fires in the area may have played a role the last couple of years. Over fishing is also a possibility. I still feel the plankton eating bluebacks are the main culprit as adult bluebacks also feed on eggs and smaller fish as well.
    Since blueback herring eat fish eggs and fry as well as the food that gamefish fry eat, they are direct predators and competitors with them. Because of this, they have caused problems with largemouth bass populations in certain lakes, among them Lakes Burton and Nottely in Georgia, and with the walleye population in Lake Hiwassee in North Carolina. State fisheries agencies work to limit their spread in freshwater lakes. It is illegal to use them as live bait in lakes where they don't already exist, and it is always illegal to stock them.

    Are striped bass in Nantahala's future?
    "There's no losing in fishing. You either catch or you learn."

  15. #15
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    Default No Stripers Please.

    I sure hope stripers or hybrids aren't an option. Our trout and kokaneefisheries(?) are unique and I hope they are around for a long long time. The best path I could see is stocking browns in the blueback lakes so we could have lots of trophy brown options,maybe with some strain of rainbow that could grow big on bluebacks. What has me worried is we saw very few marks from anything,ran the waterwolf and only saw a little smallmouth. We saw four schools of herring on top and one down deep. I hope the bulk of them were shot over the dam when the flood gates opened.The state and Duke are going to be sampling the lake later this summer .If we're lucky they will discover a problem that can be fixed, doesn't sound like much is in the works otherwise now..........

  16. #16

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    Just finished our week up on the lake. Talked to 3 different Koke fisherman and one guide while there. No one had caught one yet this yr.! The guide said he hadn't caught one in over 2 yrs. & has stopped guiding for them. He thinks they are gone forever. The occasional walleye and rainbow is all anyone seemed to find. With that intel I only salmon fished 5 hrs over 2 days. Did not catch a Koke, but caught a 19" rainbow, lost a smaller one and caught a smallmouth. Did not mark a fish that looked like a salmon and did NOT mark much bait over the deep water during daylight, but encountered schools in coves quite frequently. However, we took several cruises around the lake after sunsets and encountered HUNDREDS of schools up top as it got dark. Most schools we've ever seen in the 10 yrs we've been going. Some were only 6-8 ft across but others were over 40 ft. across and 10 ft. thick when you passed over them. Oddly, it was rare to see anything chasing them....there are just not many gamefish in the lake. Overall fishing was tougher than usual, too. Only caught a few perch, a few bream, 1 largemouth and a smallie with the kids. Caught 6 bows, a brown & a brookie in the Nant. R. in under an hr. one morning before the generation began. We did have a GREAT trip to L. Chatuge with my daughter, too. We caught 35-40 hybrids in 2 1/2 hrs. Several topped double digit wts. and the biggest pushed 13 lbs. Its a shame but the salmon appear to be done. They may bounce back but it seems unlikely without help. I would love to see NC stock kokanee annually like other states but that is not going to happen. Next best choice would be browns & rainbows, like on Apalachia. That has been very successful & could easily be duplicated on Nantahala. Stripers or hybrids would be a distant 3rd choice but has been very successful on Hiwassee and Chatuge.

  17. #17

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  18. #18
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    Default Nice Ones

    Wow nice hybrids Doc. How were you catching them? I was at Nantahala last Wed with Trolling NC,we only caught one little rainbow. Did see a smelly hybrid carcass floating out from the Rocky Branch landing. I was hoping it was one from Chatuge someone had cleaned. The state and Duke are set to do some sampling in August to look for kokes and try to get some idea what's happening at Nantahala.

  19. #19

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    The hybrids were mostly caught downlining live herring. We also caught some on unweighted lines up top on ultralights. That was a lot of fun. Most were caught in a large cove in about 30-35ft. of water 15-20 ft down. School moved around some but if we marked them we caught them. Frequently more than one at a time. We went thru 8 dozen baits in 2 1/2 hrs. Probably could have caught them on artificials but by the time we fished out all the bait we were ready to go. We kept 3 of the smaller ones for dinner. Sorry about a floating carcass. We were staying in one of the houses near the Rocky Branch BR. It might have been one ours. Did it have one side still partially uncleaned? Niece dropped one in trying to filet it.

  20. #20
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    Default Nice Ones Doc

    I've got to try stripers or hybrids some day. Were they hard to find on Chatuge? Never used herring ,they seem to be the ticket. Have you had any luck trolling lures for them? The carcass was interesting,glad it was from else where.We've left a few gut piles that put hippies in therapy for years. Plus it probably makes the catfish. .happy Glad y"all had a good trip,maybe the kokes will rebound at some point.

  21. #21

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    Not going to get up there this year, but have been periodically checking this site to see if ANYONE had information on the lake. Very sad to see zero posts. Has anyone given them a go? Are the kokes gone as we have feared? Has NCWRC decided on what they are going to do with either the Kokanee or the Bluebacks?

  22. #22
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    Default Nantahala Kokes??

    Hey Doc,I haven't been to Nantahala this year. Also haven't heard of any kokes caught,not sure many folks are trying now. We've been fishing Watauga in Tenn . catching Lake Trout and stream fishing. There are hopefully good things coming, The NCWRC is getting kokanee eggs from Montana in an effort to rebuild the fishery. They're hoping the stockings over a five year period will result in a self sustaining population once again. Hopefully in the mean time the bluebacks will crash,but there doesn't seem to be anyway to wipe them out. The stocking will begin next year ,so it will probably be two or three years before they are much size. I'm thinking if they make it with the herring the kokes will be way smaller than we were getting a few years back.

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