Knowing the Water

by Lance Merz for The Mack Attack, July 03, 2016
Fishing a new body of water of which you’re not used to can be intimidating at best. There may be particular lakes and rivers that you have “dialed in” where you know what to use to catch more fish; but fishing a new lake or river has its own challenges in and of itself.

In previous articles and seminars that I teach, I emphasize to my fellow anglers to use the tools available to find out as much information you can about a new area. There are numerous on-line fishing forums such as Northwest Fishing Reports where other anglers post reports about that new lake you’re getting ready to fish. In the report, it describes which colors/lures to use, what depths they are catching the fish, what speeds, water temperature, baits and scents. This information is critical in developing your own plan of how you want to fish; the rest is up to you.

Another way to obtain information is contacting your local bait and tackle shop. Talk to the staff who work there; chances are, they will know exactly what you need to be successful. Local fishing guides are a great resource as well. If they are good (and most are), these guides will answer virtually any question you may have about that body of water. In my latest outing, I did one further. In May of 2014, I fished in the Lake Stevens Kokanee derby. We fished early in the morning and had a great time. I learned a lot about that lake that day, and put what I learned in my tackle box. The big winners of the derby that year were John Kernaghan and his son, Dakota. In that derby, John and his son won 1st place for heaviest boat limit of 10-pounds, 15-ounces, as well as 2nd place for the biggest fish of one pound, 21oz. What caught my eye the most of these two, is that they were father and son fishing and having a good time; that was the trophy.

John and I kept in contact after that day and when the derby was set for this year, I knew the person to call. John welcomed me on to his boat and held nothing back; it was if I were fishing with him for years.

We started off our morning EARLY at the Lake Stevens City boat launch. John wanted me to meet him at the launch at 3:00am, but I’m set in my old Army ways and showed up at 2:30. John had already launched his boat and was waiting on me. Something I’m not used to for sure, I asked John if I needed to bring anything, which he replied “I’ve got everything we need, just grab your rain gear”. The weather forecast for that day was rain, rain and more rain. I grabbed some Mack’s Lure gear and headed to the truck where I met John’s fiancé, Vydellity Anderson. Shortly thereafter, I met our other fishing partner, Tori Brewer; our boat was complete. We remained at the launch for quite some time, watching all the boats enter the water, then off into the dark water. Just before sunrise, we began our trek to the other side of the lake and started to gear up for a fun-filled day.

Rods in the water, we begin to troll…..WHAM; the first, second, and third rod tips are dancing to the tune of Kokanee. On all of the rods in the boat, John was using a Mack’s Lure Double Whammy Ringmaster™, in the yellow chartreuse, ruby, and pink colors. There were a few rods that were also toting a Double D™ Dodger as well. The dodgers did exactly what they were supposed to do; push the lure away from the boat and out of the boat wash’s path. We started fishing between 10-30’ in the water column, which was producing some nice sized Kokanee to be sure. John’s trolling speed was between 1.3-1.6mph and once we pounded on the fish, we immediately rebaited and went back through them. I normally run my lines about 25’ behind the back of my boat, but John went in even closer! He was literally running around 5’ off the ball. A smart move for sure, which allowed John to make tighter turns (there were many boats on the water that day). We had 40 fish in the boat and in the cooler by 8:00am!! As boats passed by, John would tell people exactly what he was using, the depths, and the speeds.

The weigh-in for the derby didn’t open until 10:30am, so we started trolling for Trout. We went to another area of the lake adjacent to a boat launch on the opposite side of the lake of where John launched, and began to troll. It wasn’t ten minutes into the troll when I saw a nice fish jump completely out of the water. At first I thought it was a Kokanee because all I saw was silver, but shortly after it went back into the water, the rod went off. John grabbed the rod and handed it to me as it was on a long line. As I was reeling it in, the fish again jumped out of the water. What an exciting catch! We trolled a few more hours for trout, and then headed into the weigh-in. Vydellity meticulously weighed and measured all the fish to ensure we turned in our top ten for the derby. As the weigh-in went on, our grasp of heaviest boat weight diminished. Overall, we placed third with 9-pounds 22-ounces We placed 1st however, for the biggest trout at 1.48 pounds.

In all, it was a great day of fishing. 40 fish in the box by 8:00am is something to brag about for sure. The moral of the story is to talk to people who fish that lake all the time. In my eyes, John is the best fisherman when it comes to Lake Stevens and fishing for Kokanee. A great fisherman in his own right, John knows the lake probably better than any other person there (guides included). Any time you can go out on a lake and catch fish is a great day. Fishing with new people and making new friends makes it even better!