How to Catch Kokanee
Trolling speed is critical. Most experts use a good boat speed indicator. Often the indicators built into fish finders are not accurate. Indicators like the Acctrol that hang over the side of the boat are better. They will start trolling at 1.2 miles per hour. They may then vary this speed from as slow as .9 mph to as high as 1.4 mph. Finding the right speed is key in consistently catching kokanee. Fine tuning the speed will vary on a day to day basis. Once you find the magic speed try to duplicate it on every trolling pass. Motor rpm alone is not an accurate indicator because your speed changes trolling with the wind or against it, and with changing lake currents. Knowing your speed and maintaining it is critical.
Vance Staplin believes speed is more important than any other factor in taking kokanee. Trolling too fast is the most common mistake he sees fishermen make. He says, "A light wobble on your kokanee lure is all you want especially if you are using a dodger". This generally means you should troll very slow. Wayne Douma likes to vary his speed when he is marking fish and they won't strike. He normally trolls at 1.2 MPH. To change the pattern he will speed up abruptly to 1.4 for about five seconds and then back off to .9 MPH. This will sometimes entice a strike. When trolling an established kokanee area, watch for kokanee on your fish finder. However, you may be catching fish without marking any. This is because fish are being attracted towards your lures and attack your bait without ever passing through the cone your fish finder is reading.
If you are not marking fish and not getting bit you should move. When establishing a troll pattern in a cove or off a particular stretch of shoreline make mental notes of the distance and land marks. If you are consistently getting bit on each pass, try to duplicate the path on each subsequent pass. Remember to check your trolling speed in both directions. It may be critical to getting bit.
Phillip Johnson documented that his kokanee strikes more than doubled when trolling perpendicular to the sun rather then parallel to its course. When trolling perpendicular to the sun the dodgers
and flashers are reflecting much more light and therefore much more flash. Flash
definitely attracts kokanee. When possible Phil tried to always troll perpendicular to the
sun, This assures him the maximum amount of reflection coming off his dodgers, lures
and flashers. From 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM when the sun is at the peak of its arc, trolling
direction makes little difference. But in the morning and afternoon, trolling perpendicular
to the sun's path will definitely produce more strikes.
When kokanee find an area that has plenty of plankton or micro shrimp to feed on, plus
ideal water temperature they will stay in the same area for weeks. If those conditions
change they will abruptly move. If you can find these plankton and shrimp areas you will
find kokanee. Often you can get reliable information on the recent kokanee patterns
from local bait and tackle shops. If you can't, just start running large sweeping patterns until you find the fish. Also, look for concentrations of boats fishing kokanee.
Kokanee are most comfortable in water in the low to mid 50 degree temperature range but often come up to water temperatures as warm as 70 degrees to feed. In the early spring when the water is colder than 50 degrees, troll in the shallow grassy areas that are 10 to 20 feet deep and obtain full sunlight all day. These waters warm more quickly and will attract kokanee. As the season progresses and the open water temperature increases, the kokanee will move out of the shallows.