by Benita Galland , October 01, 2018

Have you ever spent most of the day trolling or casting for an uncooperative fish, only to end up with little or nothing to show for it? Then, to add insult to injury, some “wise” person consoles with the phrase “well, that’s why they call it fishing, not catching.”

We all know that fishing is a fantastic way to get out and enjoy a day on the water, but sometimes it is just nice to go catching. If you are into the “catching,” then go after the kokanee on Coeur d’Alene Lake. It’s a hoot! Kokanee, also known as silvers, blue backs and landlocked salmon, are abundant in this lake’s fishery. If you are game to have an enjoyable day of catching, hitch the boat, load up the kids and a cooler with your favorite beverage, then point yourself in the direction of Coeur d’Alene Lake.

Disclaimer: Don’t plan on having the time to dig into the cooler. You will be too busy setting up, reeling in, re-baiting and repeating the process. Here are a few tips for catching kokanee on Lake Couer d’Alene: WHEN Any time of the year, spring through fall, is a good time. September through mid-October is prime time, though. As soon as the ice leaves the bays and the water temperature moves into the mid-50s, the kokanee wake up and start biting. In the spring, the adult fish are usually in the 9- to 10-inch range. Many anglers love the smaller 9- or 10-inchers because it fits perfectly (minus the head and tail) into a pint canning jar.

As the spring and summer months approach fall, the fish grow into the 12- to 15-inch range — just the perfect size for the smoke house or pan. In the fall, prior to spawning, the kokanee get very active. Catching a limit, which is 15 fish per person, can often times happen very quickly. It can get quite entertaining. With a two-pole permit, all rods may be bouncing at the same time. It’s not uncommon to have a problem keeping a rod in the water. Not a problem one hates to have, however!


Pick a bay, any bay. The lake is 25 miles long with 130 miles of shoreline to take advantage of. Catching is great throughout the system, from the south end, where its fed by the Coeur d’Alene and St. Joe rivers, to the north end, where it flows into the Spokane River.
In September and into mid-October, the best catching is on the north end of the lake in Bennett and Wolf Creek bays. A vast majority of the kokanee migrate to that area to spawn, so the bays are loaded with mature adults.

Coeur d’Alene Lake is a dam controlled lake, but the water level is held pretty constant from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Unlike other dam-controlled lakes, the level is slowly reduced in the fall into thew inter. Thus, the water level doesn’t factor in fall season’s launch availability.


1. Some sort of floating vessel is essential. Good news, though! A $100,000 boat is not needed. In fact, some kayak enthusiasts mount an electric motor.
2. A fish finder or sonar unit is great to have to pinpoint the range the kokanee are favoring. If you don’t have one, follow this rule of thumb: early in the spring, concentrate on the top 35-feet; in the summer the zone is 30- to 45-feet; in the fall the target range is 40- to 60-feet.
3. Use a light 7- to 8-foot rod with an adequate reel. The rod should have lots of play in the tip. Kokanee are tender-mouthed Houdini’s who need lots of flex when hooked. A good kokanee rod can be as little as $25. Look for a line counter reel and rod combo. They are usually available for a bargain. Load up the reel with 10- to 12-pound monofilament line and you are set to go.
4. Downriggers are awesome, especially when you want to know exactly where your lure is. When they are running deep, it is tricky to get them without one. That said, many anglers are very successful using leaded line or weights.


Kokanee like a slow traveling lure with a fair amount of action. Their preferred lure through water speed is 1.2- to 1.4-knots. If they aren’t taking the bait, slow down a touch or bump it up a little. Varying the tempo often sparks a bite. Just as important is the action of your lure. This is a variable that you may want to tweak to increase the bite. At times, an attractor, such as the Flash Lite® Troll, which is a 24-inch series of 4-inch blades that provides the vibration that sparks interest in the lure. Mack’s Lure Flash Lite® Blades are very successful and have less drag than metal blade attractors.

Sling Blade™ dodgers are a favorite because they have a frisky, jerking action and when you hook up, the fish is all you feel. Color and selection are also important. Go with varieties of pinks, greens and oranges. Other colors can be great, too, but those three, however, are the must-haves. Add some UV blades to your collection, too. Four and six inch Sling Blade™ dodgers seem to be the most productive. And don’t forget about the Mack’s Lure Double D™ Dodger 4.4, which works well, too.

Let’s talk lure selection. What follows the attractor is critical! Wedding Ring® spinners are a must-have. Make your own color combinations using tapered or round beads or get a finished product from Mack’s Lure with the hook setup you prefer.

Sure-bet color combinations are pinks, greens and oranges with glow and/or UV varieties in the mix. Gold, silver, purple and chartreuse are tantalizing colors, too. A Smile Blade® in front is the icing on the cake! The next best lure is a very small hoochie and/or micro squidder or the Mack’s Lure Cha Cha® 1.5” to 2” squidders on a 12- to 14-inch leader. Bait them up with white shoepeg corn, maggots or even Power Bait. Dying the corn pink is a good trick! For good measure, add a bit of anise scent or sweet corn scent gel.

Hopefully, you will be able to take advantage of kokanee catching on Coeur d’Alene Lake before the prime time lapses. If not, make a note on your calendar to enjoy it next year. If fishing ever gets exasperating, give this fishery a try. Catching is believing!

Re-published with Permission of Macks Lures.

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