the fish ....... not the beer!
Hard to believe that 2010 is gone & that we are already writing our first post of 2011! In keeping with the season we wanted to give you a report on our latest trip ice fishing Kokanee at Monte lake near Kamloops BC.
but first a bit about the Kokanee salmon.......
Kokanee are land locked Sockeye salmon. They spend their entire lives in fresh water - never going to sea. Kokanee are identical to ocean going Sockeye salmon except in size. On average the Kokanee gets to about a foot long when mature, while the Sockeye salmon can reach around 24 inches - Kokanee to around four pounds, however, are not uncommon.
Also like their larger brothers, Kokanee have deep red, oily flesh which whether cooked, smoked or canned, makes for high quality and delicious table fare! Kokanee live at mid depths in the open waters of lakes. They feed almost exclusively on zooplankton, which makes them difficult to fish, but will also eat tiny plants, insects, and freshwater shrimp when available.
So on that note ... when, where and how can we fish them?
The when is easy, whenever you can obviously, but it's been our experience that they are easier to target through the ice than in the open water.
In the BC interior the where is fairly limited but a quick check of the stocking charts reveals a few good sources. Bridge lake up highway 24 is famous for producing some lunkers and Wood lake in the Okanagan is also quite popular. In the Kamloops area Tranquille and Monte lakes fit the bill!
The how for Kokanee is not much different than the how for any still water fishing. During the open water season you can use the tactics described in our fly fishing overview article and in our trolling the fly article. Our ice fishing 101 article outlines some simple techniques for fishing through the ice. One additional tip that we can offer is to think Shiny when targeting this species! These little guys seem to like the flashy stuff so the use of a little silver spinner or spoon above your lure may make all the difference!
So back to our report .......
Ice fishing Kokanee at Monte was slow but we did manage to pull out a few silver bullets over a couple of hours. The ice had just recently come on the lake and was about 4 inches thick. We were fishing over 80 feet of water with our lures suspended at 15 feet. The set up that seemed to be working best was a small white ice fly about a foot below a little silver flasher. A nice plump juicy maggot or a piece of shrimp topped everything off. The bites (if you could call them bites) were light at best and if you weren't holding the line in your fingers you probably wouldn't have noticed them - we didn't use a bobber for that very reason!
* If you have any tips/tricks that you'd like to share re lake fishing kokanee please let us know in the comments section below
So there you have it. Given that the ice just came on the lake our feeling is that the ice fishing will be picking up over the next week so if you get a chance and our interested in some tasty land locked Sockeye salmon then get out there and give it a go! Oh and be sure to send us some pics and a report!
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