kokanee fishing is becoming more and more popular. The kokanee is a special classification of sockeye salmon that has a slightly different life cycle than the typical sockeye. Normally, these fish are born in the stream where their parents came to spawn and die. They spend their first winter there, and then head to the ocean where they will live until the end days of their life. At that point, they return back to the stream where they started, and do their own spawning before they die.
Their bodies are designed to change between the ability to live in fresh and salt water as they move between them. Kokanee are different. Instead of going to the ocean, they find a landlocked lake, and spend their entire life in fresh water. This creates, for Pacific Northwest angler, a year-round freshwater source of salmon to try and catch.
What to Do
All salmon are midwater predatory fish. They are designed to hunt prey, instead of gently foraging for it or scouring at the bottom for whatever falls there. When Kokanee fishing, this is something important to consider. They prefer plankton and tiny shrimp, so large fishy lures and minnows are not the best bait to go for. Instead, lures should be tiny, and smells like corn are a great way to get their attention. The schooling of this species is unpredictable, and they can be very shy when there is a lot of boat traffic. Because of this, the best time to catch them is when you are relatively alone at your fishing spot.
Where to Go Kokanee Fishing
There are a large number of kokanee fishing lakes found in the West. There are known native populations in Alaska, British Columbia, Washington and Oregon, as well as Idaho, Montana, and the Yukon. Kokanee has become a stock fish as well, and over a dozen states and provinces outside their Pacific Northwest home now stock them, as far away as New York and North Carolina. Many of these stocking attempts were done in the 1960’s, before the damaging effects of non-native predatory fish were realized. Because of this, kokanee fishing there is used more as an invasive cleaning than a rewarding sport fishing opportunity. If you are looking for kokanee fishing lakes, they are everywhere, and the fish is so popular these days that you can be sure that it is advertised.
Kokanee Fishing: Jigging
Jigging is a great method to use on kokanee in late summer, as they begin their pre-spawn feeding frenzy. The fish will start schooling into bunches, and since they are fighting for food and need a lot before the big trip back to their birthplace, they are aggressive. The bigger the school, the better the chance you’ll get their attention. Be sure to use proper techniques with slow and light jerks on the water. If you jig too hard, you’ll catch too many fish. Remember that kokanee are most likely to bite on the drop, so keep your grip steady.