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Thread: Slow trolling - time to transition to jigging??

  1. #1

    Default Slow trolling - time to transition to jigging??

    Hello. I have a question and maybe a solution to the slow fishing experienced by many on the forum? First, i am NOT a seasoned expert koke fisherman. My wife and I really just got into it mid-summer last year when we sold our Hobie fishing kayaks and bought a new 20' Lund. Since then we have had multiple trips to Blue Mesa, Flaming Gorge, Fontenelle and one trip to Strawberry. Most of our experience has been at Blue Mesa and when the trolling died off last year we were introduced to jigging. We have a Lowrance sonar that came with the boat that was very limited in finding the schools so I invested in a Garmin Livescope which has helped enormously. My experience and the benefits of this outfit will be the topic of another post.

    When i read the posts on this forum I do not see much about jigging. At Blue Mesa there is almost a complete transition during the summer from trolling to jigging. My question is this: is this the case at other koke lakes? We went to the Gorge late last summer after the jigging had kicked in at Blue Mesa and the only people that appeared to be jigging were going after lake trout. If this is the case could fishers at other lakes improve their success by jigging? If not, why do you think jigging would not work like it does at the Blue?

    Any insights will be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Rock Springs Wy


    Saw a few guys locked on a couple schools with their ipilots. I didn't see any of them doing any better then the others trolling. But you know never could be just ticket!
    The Experiment Requires That You Continue!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Harrisville, Utah


    There are a lot of fellas jigging but most don't talk about it. For those that do its mostly talking about lakers or cutts. I'm not one who jigs but trolls mainly. I fish mostly Strawberry with some early season fishing at Jordanelle, do get occasional day trips to the Gorge. I started fishing Fontenelle last year 2020 with 1 trip then & 1 trip this year, plans for other trips got derailed this year. Going to try expanding to 2-3 trips next year but might find limited trips if fuel prices keep on the rise. We have a few lakes now closer to my home that have been planted with kokes so they are on the horizon providing this drought doesn't impact them.
    2000 F250 7.3L Diesel
    2007 Columbia 2018 Fisherman XL Yamaha F150 Yamaha 9.9 kicker 4 Walker Electric Downriggers Raymarine Element HV 9 Uniden Solara VHF

  4. #4

    Default Thanks for your input Mike and Bduck

    When i go to other lakes this season i am going to try to get on some schools and see if they stay put. Next trip is to Navajo starting this Sunday. Never fished it so should be interesting.

    If I do find some stationary schools I may try jigging. In my limited experience at BM some schools will not show any interest in the jigs, while others are more "active".

    Tight lines to all!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Bend, Or.


    Welcome DuckHarvestor. Jigging is very popular here in Central Oregon. I like targeting kokes off the bottom and stationary schools but some days doing a slow wind drift dropping the jig down to suspended fish showing on the fish finder works even better... your constantly going over new water and schools. Just remember to let out a little extra line to compensate for the line angle to reach a specific depth. Also, you may have to switch from 1/2oz jigs to 3/4oz to keep you in the zone.
    Last edited by SilverBullets; 08-22-2021 at 08:41 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Gunnison, CO


    The spawning behavior is different at the three kokanee lakes we fish. We live in Gunnison and have had a slip at Blue Mesa for 20 years, but not this year. We fished Navajo 3 times on boat camp trips last year. The dam basin at Navajo has LOTS and LOTS of 1 - 1.3 lb salmon in a 10 foot layer of salmon from 55 to 65 ft and they bite like crazy when trolling, starting in mid June or so. On the last trip last summer -- we left the friday before labor day, early September -- the layer of fish grew more lumpy and we easily jigged fish in a slow drift at 65 ft. We loaned our rods to kids on boats that came by and let each kid catch a couple of fish. At Blue Mesa schools are incredibly dense and they used to be 50+ feet across. At Navajo, at least in early September last year, there were smaller, less dense "learning pods" rather than big schools. Mary calls them five delinquents smoking in the boy's room. We returned from our fourth trip to Navajo this year 3 weeks ago and caught a few fish jigging just to prove we could, but trolling was more productive. Lots and Lots of salmon and they readily bite trolling, but we didn't see anything we would call a school. By early in September Navajo fish are going red and hooking, and they are losing weight. I'd bet by later Sept most have transformed and I'd bet they start getting more densely schooled. The fish are well past their best by date. I believe "back when" it was popular sport to stand on tall rocks overlooking very deep water right at the corner of the dam (and very near where salmon are netted in the fall for milking and released in the spring) and snag salmon with large treble hooks. It apparently is no longer done but there is a snagging season in the regs.

    We got back from our 3rd trip to Flaming Gorge two days ago. We looked for schooled salmon in all the likely places except well up Sheep Creek and we saw nothing. On an earlier trip a friend from the dock told us he had seen and fished schooled salmon while jigging macks. I know little about where and how the salmon at Flaming Gorge spawn but it became clear by end of the most recent very rainy trip (Monday morning) that fish were moving down the Green channel to the T junction with Sheep Creek and piling up a little as they considered leaving the Green channel and moving up Sheep Creek, their probably spawning route. Confusion corner was good to us for 15 minutes in the dark with 3 big salmon and then we added 3 more in the next couple of hours.

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    The two smaller fish are the size of the average BM fish, 1.5 pounds. The two middle fish are 2 pounds and the bigger two are 2.5 pounds. The towel is on a 16 inch cutting board. You can see some are hooking, turning dark, etc. but the fish are fine for easting and a blast to catch on light spinning tackle.

    Maybe "back when" Flaming Gorge had a lot more salmon the piling up we saw would have been a school. I don't get the sense there are all that many salmon doing the run this year. But we are new to the lake this summer and not sure what we are seeing. On the other hand, we always carry ready to go salmon jigging equipment when we are on a salmon lake, and we were never even remotely tempted to break it out.

    We quit fishing BM after a few trips early last summer and fished it a couple of times this summer when we were working on the boat trailer and the boat was in a slip for a few nights. We had wonderful times on that lake but all that is over.

    Why did salmon at Blue Mesa school so densely? Why do the fishing boats at BM fish so closely packed? Have you ever approached another boat and without asking started fishing right next to them? Does this happen at any place else?


  7. #7

    Default Thanks for your insight, SilverBullets and Kokanee64 - very interesting.

    Just got back from our first trip to Navajo. Best koke fishing we have had in the 1.5 years we have been doing it. Had some double, and even a triple hookups while trolling. As you mentioned Kokanee64 the fish seem to be very active as my wife and i caught limits on Monday and Tuesday of this week. Fish we not too finicky about what they were hitting. Stopped the first day after nine fish to see if jigging would be productive, and it was. Had several bites and finally landed one. Downside is fish are a bit on the small side as Rob1973 (?) mentioned in an recent post. Ours were between 12.5" and 14.5".

    When we first started fishing it on Monday around 6:45 AM we noticed quite a few fish distributed between 30 and 60 feet, and some schools at 70 feet. Caught a few fish from 40' to 65' initially then the fish at 70' became more active and we targeted them exclusively. We found a wide, fairly thin (2 - 3' thick) school at 70' that were very cooperative. What I find interesting is how the schools differ between two lakes. The last several days we fished BM this year the schools could be up to 15 - 20 feet thick (most were 5 - 10') but only 10 - 15 feet in diameter (X and Y dimension). At Navajo there was a "band" of fish stretching more than 80' in some spots, but only a couple of feet thick. I am basing these observations on my use of a Garmin Livescope which I can look out in any direction from the boat. It is a great tool for locating schooled fish in a radius around the boat. I have the "forward" looking distance set to 70' but not sure what the max. effective distance is. I assume if I push the distance too far it will lose sensitivity but need to experiment further. The different shapes of schools at the two lakes is probably due to the nature of the thermocline and concentration of plankton.

    The second day we fished a guide boat came out with several clients and they were very successful at jigging.

    I understand from a friend that the Elk Creek ramp at BM has closed because of the low water level. They are sending the water to Lake Powell to help their very low water condition. The Lake Fork ramp is suppose to close this weekend.

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