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Family outdoor adventures
  We live in the outdoor playground of north central Washington.  This has to be one the best places to have a family if you are going to take advantage of all the outdoor opportunities that this region has to offer.  It is hard to believe that people can live in this region their whole life and never get into what this region has to offer.  People of north central Washington work hard, and play hard.  If I'm not at work or at home, we are either in the woods or on the water.  
  Fishing has been a incredible way for my family to pull together and find some common ground.  We have 2 happy healthy boys ages 7, and 11 (Oct. 2016) that have become avid outdoors men.   We spend time doing other outdoors activities like camping, rock hounding, picking huckleberries, and morel mushrooms.  Our boys understand that nature can provide things that are not typically available  to purchase in the department stores, and that natures bounty can better than any thing you can buy in the store.
  These family outdoor adventures give our family valuable skills, which is a huge reason we always go on these adventures as a family.  Solo trips are not a option in our house.  We are happy that our boys are gaining the skill sets necessary to target specific species.  Including various presentations, techniques, locations, and when to target specific species.
  This summer has been incredible.  We have encountered a  tremendous amount of wild life diversity this summer.  We got to fish for Kokanee with a black bear hanging out within throwing distance of our boat on Conconully lake.  We had the once in a lifetime opportunity to see a large mountain lion that jumped out in the road up Twisp river!  Our boys have seen deer, pelicans, eagles, osprey, snakes, bull frogs, Mormon  crickets, coyotes, raccoons, hawks, and many more critters.  It is the opportunity to see such diverse wildlife that will create these incredible memories that will stick with them for life.  
  We go on these outdoor adventures as a family to build life long bonds, give our boys the skill sets necessary to be safe in the wild, and share their knowledge with their family when the time comes.  Fishing teaches patients, staying power, problem solving, knot tying, aquatic species knowledge, importance of conservation, confidence, how to prepare and clean fish, and how to stay in the moment.  Another great aspect of taking our boys fishing is it teaches them that no matter how good you are at doing something you will not always succeed at the task you set out to do, and that is okay.
  The bond that fishing has created between my wife, our kids and myself has grown tremendously through the summer.  We have had some incredible moments.  For example, we had a moment where I had just lost a dandy Kokanee and was busy getting that pole ready to go again, and all heck breaks loose and the down rigger pole goes off!  Our boys spring to action.  Our 7 year old frees the pole from the holder and down rigger, sets the hook and with some expert net work from his big brother lands the largest Kokanee of the year for the old Bent Hook Pontoon.  What a moment to watch... speechless!  Another favorite moment was watching our 11 year old land his first walleye ever.  We had the bottom bouncers going with slow death rig heading down stream near the mouth of the Okanogan river and WAMO!  Tyler was all over it. A hefty hook set on the Ugly Stick and the fight was on with a absolute dandy 18" walleye.  What a great first walleye, so proud of him. 
  It wasn't all buttercups, and limits this year.  We still had our ruff patches and they make the good moments even better.  We decided to step up our game this year and purchased a 24 foot pontoon boat that we have named Bent Hook Pontoon.  Our first fishing trip of the year was to Palmer lake and it did not go so well.  We had the boat out the week before on lake Pateros just to test it out for about a 30 minute run.  Well I learned a valued lesson that day to remember to turn off the fish finder.  Our first fishing trip never happend due to a dead battery.  So we ordered a jump pack that we still have not needed to use but now we have it just in case.  We made our first trip to Banks lake on fathers day and got skunked.  That is okay.  You can not expect to catch them every time.  However that was not what made this trip a ruff one.  At the boat launch I went to hop from the boat on to the tailgate and slipped.  I went face first over the side rail of the truck and KAPOWIE!!!  You just knocked your self out at the boat launch in front of a bunch of people!  That was the beginning of the curse.  Next three fishing trip produced nada, zilch, nothing.  Oh the curse of Steamboat, and how it plagued us.  So you got bucked off.  Now what?  Lets take our vacation at Banks lake and break the curse.  So we did, and it was awesome.  We persevered and learned another valuable lesson that you will not always have a successful fishing trip but you need to keep at it and it will pay off.
  Now that it is fall, and our season is coming to a close.  We can look back at all the photos of our summer together and remember all the good times, and the lessons we have learned.  Not to mention having a freezer fully stocked with walleye filets, and smoked kokanee.  What a great year.
Thank you
Milo Marcille
Bent Hook Pontoon
Tight Lines!
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Posted: 10-07-2016, 05:54 PM
A New Study of Crab Pot Design Effectiveness

A new study just completed by the Northwest Straits Foundation found that some crab pots are better than others in allowing crabs to escape if the pots are lost. The ubiquitous Danielson square pot does a good job, but the pots with top opening escape panels that require crabs to push their way out don’t work well. Making those top opening escape hatches spring loaded by attached a bungee cord helps make them more effective. Read the study fact sheet or full report at

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Posted by: nwstraits
Posted: 02-26-2016, 11:06 AM
beaver lake

so i was going to go fishing at beaver lake last night and i decided to go i was using an ultra light fishing rod for first time at first thought it would snap but it worked well i was using green power bait doe it was so big it was

17 inches people 17 inches 


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Posted by: fishing9315
Posted: 11-04-2015, 01:41 PM
A Bucket Full of Perch, Now What?

Being that our freezers were void of perch fillets we planned a fishing trip to rectify the situation. We decided to hit Lake Washington and then focus on loading the cooler with perch. I have a general familiarity with Lake Washington fisheries but G-Man had shared a bit of his local knowledge so our learning curve was a short one. We metered around off Yarrow Point in 15’-30’ of water looking for schools of fish located on the edges of the numerous weed beds. On locating a likely area we would test fish it, drifting to determine size or if anybody was home. If all was good we would set the anchor and get down to business. As it turned out after a couple different test drifts we anchored over the perch mother load. Over the next couple of hours we caught hundreds of perch releasing all but the 8-12 inchers. We were fishing a butterfly rigged jig baited with a chunk of night crawler or perch meat. We started out fishing the jig with a drop shot hook about 12” above but went to just the butterfly rigged jig.


Although the big fish bite would come and go we had fish going from the moment we dropped anchor. We ended up keeping exactly 100 8” – 12” perch (98 + 2 for bait) releasing at least that many. Boat safely tucked away in the garage it was time to fillet. As it turned out it only took me 1 ½ hours to fillet our spoils. We had about a gallon of boneless fillets and a 5 gallon pail full of perch carcasses so now what?


We dip the perch carcass in milk and bread crumbs, not…, they went in the “Bait/Beer” fridge for crab bait. We bread the fillets, freeze them in dinner for 4 size portions and then vacuum bag them to be consumed later. Although there are many recipes for breading fish the one we use for perch is not really a recipe and pretty simple. The method follows; but first in my mind the key to a successful fish fry is the oil temperature. Maintain the oil temperature at 350-360 degrees. To keep the oil at the right temperature use a large cast iron fry pan or fryer, monitor the temperature and fry in batches.

  1. Rinse fillets but do not dry.
  2. Dredge the moist fillet in a seasoned, flour based fish fry such as “Krusteaz Fri-Eaz Seasoned Bread & Batter” available at Cash n Carry.
  3. Quickly dip the floured fillet in water or milk then dredge in Panko bread crumbs or as an alternative in the seasoned flour previously mentioned with cornmeal added to taste.
  4. Lay the breaded fillet on wax paper or parchment paper on a baking sheet.
  5. Repeat until all fillets are processed layering the wax paper/fish as required.
  6. Freeze overnight or until frozen solid.
  7. Vacuum seal the frozen/processed fillets in appropriate serving size packages.
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Posted by: rseas
Posted: 08-31-2015, 09:39 AM
Incredible Rainbow Trout Fishing on Opening Day!

I pretty much never go out and purposely target trout. But with the cold front that lead up to opening weekend, the bass at the lake I went to were shut down. After catching only a couple dink largemouth in a couple hours, my buddy and I decided to troll for trout and destroyed over 45 in just a couple hours. I just chose 16 clips for this video so it wouldn't be over an hour long. This lake actually gets brood stock so they were much bigger average size and fought a lot harder than most trout.

For you trout fishermen, you absolutely need to go get some of the 3" Minnow from

! This is the same company that also makes Pen Fishing Rods.

  I've caught plenty of bass on these little jerkbaits as well! They have amazing flash and action!



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Posted: 05-06-2015, 05:04 PM
Pflueger Supreme XT: Review With Fish Catches
Hey guys, check this out.  This is a review of a great casting reel as well as a ton of fishing footage.  I've caught a lot of bass with it and absolutely love this reel!
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Posted: 04-14-2015, 04:03 PM
Pre Spawn Bass Fishing With Jigs & Senkos
Took Swayner23 out fishing with me on Sunday and we had a blast!  We boated a total of 12 Largemouth and 3 Rock Bass.  I caught 8 Largemouth and Chris caught 4 Largemouth and 3 Rock Bass.

This video is all of Chris' catches minus one rock bass that I didn't get on film.
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Posted: 04-14-2015, 03:54 PM
Swimbaiting Western Washington 2013.
Hello everyone!
         I hope everyone had a great year of fishing. I made a short compilation of some swimbait largie's I caught over the last year. Please excuse my language in the opening scene. I hooked up a possible double digit so my adrenalin was floored! Enjoy and happy holidays!

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Posted by: dresscode5
Posted: 11-19-2013, 03:00 PM
Low Water Steelheading
 photo reiter-low-and-clear_zpse43a31dc.jpg Well, if you've taken a look at our rivers lately, you'll notice that they are crystal clear. That means nearly unlimited visibility, bright sunny days and spooky steelhead. In spite of these unfavorable condition, you can still catch steelhead. And a lot of them. I decided it's time to let the cat out of the bag, so to speak, and give you all some advice to help catching steelhead. Because if you take my advice, not only will you be more likely to catch fish, you'll be helping out the rest of us as well, as I will explain. I will preface with a warning, don't everyone go out at once, I don't want to blow up the river, but for those of you wishing to avoid the crowds of pink anglers, steelhead can be a good alternative right now. <br /> <br /> The above photo is taken at Reiter ponds. You can see the bottom all the way out. If you look closely, you can see a giant school of fish out there as well. Now, not every day is there a giant school of fish at the hatchery, but right now there are going to be some good days where there will be fish stacked up, some days they will scatter. <br /> <br /> The same is true for a lot of our hatcheries right now. The Stilliguamish at Fortson has a good number of large steelhead hanging out, the Duwamish hatcheries also have fish sitting in front, waiting for rain. Blue Creek on the Cowlitz has a bunch of fishing waiting for you, and these techniques all apply to catching these fish. <br /> <br /> Now on the day that that photo was taken, we had the hole to ourselves. We didn't show up until about 130 pm. Steelhead in the afternoon, you ask? Yep. We hooked probably about 8 fish that day, and limited out two guys. In the bright afternoon sun, with flighty fish.<br /> <br /> The number one thing to know about these fish is that they are people shy! If you can see them, odds are that they're looking at you. Don't let that happen! They are people shy. Not so much line shy, tackle shy, they are people shy. Below is a photo of the guy that you don't want to be. We came up on the hole, and there were to guys standing right on the rocks by the creek. We didn't fish, we just watched and waited. As they stood there, I would point out to my client every time they re-tied how the fish would shoot straight in and sit right at their feet. When they were done putting a new jig on, the fish would fly out and scatter, running up and down the river.
 photo censored-reiter-photo_zpsc39ff30c.jpg Don't be these guys!

The same thing is true about every hatchery hole. There is a place where the fish want to lay, where they feel safe. And they will keep coming back to it, no matter how much gear gets thrown in their faces, or how many people decide to go swimming through, or floating their over sized bobbers right over the fish.

That particular day, we waited for the early riser to leave to go to their respective jobs, it was a weekday after all. And then we sat and had a drink. We set up shop about 20 feet back from the river, and watched as the fish poured in from all over the hole. Every single fish in the river wanted to be right there, and they couldn't be there because we had two 6 foot guys basically standing on there heads.

When they had settled down into their hidey holes, we very carefully crept up to the river, almost at a crawl, from downstream of the fish and cast our presentation upstream of the fish, and on our first drift we hooked into a hawg. After walking it downstream, we waited another five minutes and repeated the catch. Two casts, two fish.

And to prove a point that day, we were drifting with 15 pound leaders. Trilene big game, which, as you may know, is not known for it's invisibility. We drifted a bright orange size 12 corky, with a two foot leader, maybe a 1/4 ounce of weight, right through the hoard of fish, and we had no problem enticing a bite. Because we were stealthy!

The main reason you should read and follow my advice, is so that you are not that guy. That guy stands in the fish and turns off the bite, ruining it for everyone that wants to catch a fish! The guy fishing the boundary at blue creek, wading out 10 feet and casting to the middle of the river. When asked, he'll tell you that's where the fish are! I have to cast to them! Of course that's where the fish are, but it's not where they want to be. Because they aren't where they want to be, they don't feel safe, and they are spooked. For all they know, you could be a bear just waiting to eat them. When they get to lay where they want to be, they start to feel safe, and resume their steelheady business of protecting their territory from wandering fish, or intrusive eggs or nyomhs floating downstream. That's what they WANT to do. Standing on top of them makes them pissy and they shut down.

Summer run are extremely aggressive fish. They will take just about anything when it is presented in a reasonable manner. It's a well kept secret by those of us that fish every day.

As for gear, you probably don't want to run fifteen pound line, just because these fish are going to be over pressured, and not everyone will stand back. A good 10 pound fluorocarbon will be a very acceptable stealth line, while still giving you a semblance of control over a hot 10 pounder. Lately, these fish have been float shy as well. First thing in the AM they will take a bait under a float, but as the day goes on, they respond more too a naturally drifted corky or bead. Corkies in orange and beads in peach to red have been what I'm throwing and cleaning up with. Small size 6 flies in natural tones have also been enticing strikes. The key is getting the most natural drift possible, unhindered by the twitches and jerks that accompany keeping an over-weighted presentation off the bottom. [i]Light Light Light [/i]weights, even if it's a single split shot are key. If you experiment, you will find the right size weight that will allow you to cast, and not spook the fish. I have been running the corky on my mainline, and crimping small split shot up from the hook in intervals, allowing for enough weight to get down, but not a big clump that will turn off the bite. Think of it like you would a super thin sink tip on a fly rod, spread out the weight and you have a smaller profile, and you can easily adjust your leader length simply by sliding the weight forward or backward.

If you must use a float, the best option will be a steelhead stalker balsa float. They are made to work with super light tackle, and have a very low profile. You can fish a bead and split shot under it and still have a decent presentation. One of the reasons that I've been staying away from a float, is because they are not hitting hard at all. If you're watching them bite, even if you have a clear view, you may not even see the take. With a float, they have rarely even been taking it under, just nipping and spitting. The steelhead stalker floats have the super long tips that show even the slightest twitch in the line, a strike may simply be a sudden tip of the float downstream. A drifted presentation with a sensitive rod will allow you to feel the bite faster, give you the opportunity to set the hook before it spits it out.

The tricky part is that you only want to set the hook on a legitimate bite. It can be super tempting to feel the rock on the bottom, knowing full well that you're drifting through a mess of fish and rip back hard. I too find myself having to hold back the impulse to set. Because if you're doing everything right, there is a good chance that you'll end up foul hooking fish, which is no bueno, or ripping your line and disturbing the run so much that it turns off the bite for a good while.

Even if you're fishing the lower river section below hatcheries, these are the techniques to remember. There may not be the large concentrations of fish that there are in the terminal areas, but that makes it even more important to not stand on top of the fish. Coming up on the Wallace Flats the other day, we saw a pod of three fish from 50 feet back, sitting behind a group of boulders. As we started sneaking, another angler came lumbering through with his spey rod and waders between us and the river, and we never saw those fish again. They are people shy, but they want SO much to bite your gear as long as they don't know that you're on the other end! So much!

A light rod, delicate presentation with small gear will catch your a ton of summer run steelhead, whether it's on the SKy, Green, Cowlitz, Calawah or Kalama, and right now these fish have had the time to stack up and hunker down, so it's the best time to have a captive audience for your gear. If you remember the three principles, you'll increase your success 300%.

Stay back, stay low and throw stealth.

Here's a little bit of what I'm talking about:

 photo Sky-Steelhead_zps0bb2f2ca.jpg
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Posted by: natetreat
Posted: 08-16-2013, 05:09 PM
Kokanee Fever, Kokanee Katching Thoughts Revisited
With the warmer weather it seems as though there is a renewed interest in kokanee fishing here in Western Washington. A number of fellow WashingtonLakers have already had successful kokanee outings on Lake Stevens, a popular north end kokanee lake. The other day while heading south to Everett to drop some recently fabricated boat parts off at the powder coater I was talking with my grandson (he never stops talking…) and he asked what a kokanee was. After my initial response that it was “beer in a blue can” he said "What? What is a kokanee?" Our little exchange got me to thinking that it was time for another Blog post and a sharing of kokanee information.
For good reason there is an increasing popularity in the overall kokanee fishery. Kokanee are a great sports fish, hard fighting and very tasty. First though I don’t believe in fishing secrets and as the season progresses I will try to share every detail that may be relevant in helping others to be successful kokanee fisherman. I hope that everyone will do the same, share your success and learn from others success. Until the season gets rolling my best advice is to believe in what you are fishing with and if you are not catching anything start systematically changing things until you figure the fish out. Systematic change means being able to assess the impact of the change on your fishing success. Never change two or more things at once. As an example; when you change a lure type or color run it at different depths before you make another change. Your goal is to know what speed, color, lure or depth works. Once you figure it out you can duplicate the changes on the remaining rods. By systematically changing your presentation you will be able to pinpoint what is working and what is not. Remember kokanee are schooling fish, where there is one there should be more willing to bite the same color lure at the same depth running at the same speed.

Although though you can catch kokanee without a fish finder, a quality fish finder is the single most important piece of equipment in your kokanee catching arsenal. Learn your electronics, the key is to understand and trust your particular electronics. Start fishing just above the thermocline and then make the necessary changes from there. As the lakes surface tempature starts to rise locating the thermocline is important in determining what depth to fish for kokanee. On a better meter the thermocline will show as a band of (for lack of a better term) interference. Typically the band of interference will be denser in the middle with a symmetrical dispersion of the interference above and below the denser area.

Kokanee rods? I have a ton of rods, OK maybe not a ton but 100 or so. I know that it sounds like a lot but if you consider that I have been collecting them for 30+ years it is not too bad. As an avid fisherman and having lived in different areas of the country I was outfitted for a number of regional specific fisheries and I still have almost every rod I have ever owned. Within my rod collection there are 6 rods that I would consider my "kokanee rods"; 2 Lamiglas team Kokanee rods (the red ones), 3 Fetha Styx FS-FW-761-2C (7’ 6” 4-10#) and 1 Lamiglas AC 73UL (7’ 3” 2-8#). I have successfully caught kokanee on other rods in my collection but the 6 noted provide a great balance of control verses a forgiving action.

The Team Kokanee rods are exceptional downrigger rods providing a consistent parabolic bend when set up in the downrigger clip. They recover quickly after a takedown and provide the necessary backbone to fight the fish while the boat is still in gear and moving forward. I absolutely love the Fetha Styx rods mentioned for kokanee or any lake downrigger fishing. They have the backbone required to control any fish you might catch, including sockeye while still having a very forgiving overall light action. In my opinion they are the perfect freshwater downrigger rods. The last rod, my Lami Rock Creek rod may seem a bit on the light side but it kicks butt. Last spring while fishing a local lake I happened to locate a few large trout and during the course of a couple hours I hooked 5 monster trout. A couple threw the hook at the last minute but I was still able to put three on ice where the largest was over 6 pounds. I was fishing solo at the time but was confident that I had control of each fish right to the end.

I prefer using the round baitcaster reels for all my downrigger fishing. They are simple to operate while setting gear, feel good in my hand, have a smooth drag and offer the most control of your aquatic nemesis. I am partial to Shimano products but have also have had exceptional luck with the Caiman reels. Choose a reel brand that you are comfortable with and assure that it balances well with the rod it will be used on. Braid verses mono? I prefer braid on all of my trolling gear. For trout/kokanee fishing I spool the reel with the appropriate braid then add a 20-50’ top shot of 4-8# fluorocarbon. I have been successfully running this braid/fluorocarbon combination for years and have never had a fish pop off because there was no stretch in the line. My rods and the drag setting help to provide the shock resistance required to land the soft mouthed kokanee. I don’t put every fish hooked in the boat but am very successful with this combination. Don't over think the rod choice and remember; the rod that catches the most kokanee, is the one in the water fishing.
Technique and what gear to run? The list is endless but here are a few ideas to get you started. While downrigger fishing, with the boat moving forward at your chosen trolling speed set your gear in the water well clear of the prop-wash and establish the set back (the distance between the downrigger clip and your attactor). With the exception of some specialized techniques I usually run a set-back of 24’–30’. Once the downrigger is at depth and rod is in the holder I usually don’t crank reel until the rod, line and release clip have become one with the rod tip at the water. I usually set it so the release clip and cable angle is somewhere around 45 degrees (you will have to experiment with your individual speed and set-up), and is somewhat loose so the bite is easily detectable. I never use the trolling snubbers, but then again I have lost a couple nice fish at the boat because of the hook pulling out of a kokanee's soft mouth so they may be a good idea. I have gone exclusively to double hook rigs when kokanee fishing and rarely loose a fish because the hook just pulls out of the fish. If our boat looses a fish it would be because of some form or another of operator error, not a fish lip related problem. I have been asked about treble hooks for kokanee. I never use treble hooks in my trolling rigs and with some exceptions I custom tie all my rigs using size 6 or size 4 octopus hooks. I feel very confident with my 2 hook rigs. Leader length varies from lure to lure. With a squid type of lure and depending on the day you may be fishing a very short leader, maybe as short as 8”. With a spinner type lure or a spoon I rarely use a leader longer than 18” and usually my leader is around 14”. Regarding commercial wedding band spinners, they work great out of the package but I would tie up some 2 hook leaders using size 6 octopus hooks and then restring the wedding band stuff on the 2 hook leaders. For bait I am partial to the corn but always have worms and maggots on board also. I do use various scents on the individual lure, attractors and on the bait. I am also equipped with every color in the rainbow because in my experience depending on the weather, body of water that is being fished and water temperature the fish will key in on different colors. You need to be prepared to change presentations as required. I carry many different attractors, lure types, baits and scents and will make changes as conditions are dictated by the often finicky kokanee. What worked yesterday may or may not work today and what is working now may not work an hour from now. Be prepared to change.

Regarding trolling speed, although there are exceptions kokanee like a trolling speed of 0.9 -1.7 mph. I always try to start out at around 1.0 mph but depending on conditions that may change. I vary my speed often both via motor speed and by trolling an “S” pattern. My main motor will reliably idle in gear at about 1.2-1.4 mph. If I need to run slower I just put the electric trolling motor in reverse and I am able to fish as slow as .8 mph.
When fishing our local Westside lakes my initial plan of attack is to run at least one downrigger rod and one flat-line rig. It varies from there depending on the number of fisherman on board. I am often running 4 rods, 2 off the downriggers, 1 lead-line rig and 1 flat line rig. I will run the downrigger gear deep chasing meter marks. The lead line will start out at about 1 color and the flat line rig will start out at 60’ behind the boat.
Generally I prefer to fish the swing blades but there are times when the dodgers out fish the swing blades. The swing blades create lass drag while trolling and when a fish is hooked the swing blade stops swinging so there is less drag on the line while fighting the fish. In my opinion the dodger creates more action at the lure and will telegraph action to the bulkier or heavier lures. Both work and lure action is only part of it, the attractor creates a low frequency sound wave that is like the dinner bell for kokanee. Regarding color, because our Westside lakes are typically peat bogs and the water is stained I prefer gold, copper, brass or some version of in prism tape. I have been experimenting with UV reflective tape and have had tremendous success. The old school side of me likes the various hammered dodgers in brass, copper or half-n-half but I run many different colors of attractors and have had success on all of them. I believe that the new UV finishes available the last couple years have revolutionized our local kokanee fishing. I typically fish the 0000 size dodgers and 4 ½” swing blades.
My leader lengths vary widely depending on the lure and about 100 other variables. There are times when I will fish mini squids or non-spinning lures with leaders as short as 4 or 5” but typically I fish about an 8 – 12” leader with the mini squids.  For spinner blade type lures I will fish a 10 – 18” leader. When trolling spoons behind the attractor I will use a 12 - 20” leader depending on the weight and action of the lure. I think that the general rule of thumb is 1½ - 2 times the length of the attractor but I often bend the rules and use what works.
Ok, the technique has been put to bed now what about your boat? As I have said before “The best boat you can have for catching kokanee is the one you already own.” To optimize your current boat for trout or kokanee fishing there are a few things to consider. I shared a version of the following information via a blog post a year or so ago but thought the information will prove useful as we get ready for this year’s kokanee assault. As with the purchase, everything that I do to the boat is well thought out and typically has a specific purpose. In rigging the boat I am interested in making it a capable general all-around fishing platform targeted towards trout, kokanee and freshwater salmon but usable in the salt. Following are my general thoughts on setting up the perfect trout/kokanee fishing machine.

Rod Holder Orientation and Location:

Purchase and install more rod holder mounts than you will use at a given time. Make sure that both the rotational and the horizontal angles are adjustable, while lake fishing more often than not you will be fishing with the rod parallel to the water. Different types of fishing; trolling, drift or anchor still fishing or side drifting require your rod holders to be in different locations.  Think before you drill! Will the butt of the rod interfere with another on board activity? Are they accessible for the different types of fishing? Are they convenient to the operation of the downrigger(s)? Are they handy to the operator while seated in the driving position? Again think before you drill, placement of the rod holders is critical for success in any fishery.


I have to admit that I catch as many trout and kokanee on 12# or 14# lead line than the downrigger rod but I think that the downrigger is consistently responsible for larger fish and fighting a fish is just plain more fun. On my boat the downriggers, associated rod holders and fish finder are located so that they can be monitored while driving the boat. For me this is critical, I often chase meter marks and the three need to be convenient to each other and the boat operator. Spring for the braided downrigger line, it is silent in the water, offers less resistance or blow-back and is easily repairable if the line is damaged. Make sure that where ever your mounting location is, it is sturdy and use backing plates and fender washers for the mount installation. In choosing the mounting location make sure you can manage your downrigger balls without falling overboard. Are you able to access the release clip with some degree of safety? Consider some form of ball retriever, a boat hook, a rod with a hook on it or a commercially available ball retriever will all work. I use the Scotty ball retriever system and love them. Also to be considered; are you able to pull up to a dock without formally introducing the downrigger arm to the dock facing boards or another boat?

Fish Finder:

I have operated everything from a high-end Furuno Ethernet system to a 100.00 portable. All have their place and while more is cool, less or what you need is better.  For trout or kokanee typically you don’t care as much about bottom structure or the various navigation features (although they are nice to have). You’re looking for a thermocline, schooling or individual fish. I started with a grayscale FF and have caught plenty of fish with the grayscale FF technology, for that matter still do (it is my portable unit). That said grayscale units are not ideal for studying the thermocline and in my opinion you need a color unit. Although my unit has a fish ID capability I never use it preferring the actual sonar history or fish arches. Regarding settings, where most people try to eliminate clutter on their fish finder screens I welcome it and typically tune things up to acquire more data to make decisions from. I want lots of clutter on my screen, clutter means more information is available. I usually have the sensitivity set pretty high, the noise filter off and surface clutter set low. On my rig I can see the difference between the clip and the downrigger ball and can make out multiple individual fish. With the unit being color I can tell the difference between other fish and kokanee with some degree of accuracy.

Kokanee have proportionately larger air bladders than other fish their size. When running your fish finder in the arch mode Kokanee will typically be distinguishable from other fish. I know that cone angle, frequency, water conditions, the fish’s position within your transducer cone and other factors will affect your ability to interpret sonar readings but generally when fishing for kokanee the fish arches showing on your meter will have a red area in the middle of the arch. Thermocline is also important in determining what depth to fish for kokanee. On a better meter the thermocline will show as a band of (for lack of a better term) interference. Typically the band of interference will be denser in the middle with a symmetrical dispersion of the interference above and below the denser area.
While kokanee fishing in the spring and early summer I often have the FF set with a lower range of 50’ or 60’ and the upper range is set at 10’-15’. Typically I am not concerned with anything above or below this range. With my screen only displaying a band of 40’ or 50’ of water I am able to see additional detail and the fish arches are more defined. An added benefit is that the scale is not jumping around as the auto depth feature detects different depths. For trout or kokanee typically you’re looking for a thermocline, schooling or even individual fish. Each trip and in each body of water you will need to tune the unit for the conditions.

During a typical day of trout or Kokanee fishing I may change lures 50 times. Unless I kept things organized my boat would be a war zone, difficult to move around in and generally unsafe. While fishing for anything, keep everything organized. On my boat I have found that the pipe installation type leader keepers are an excellent way to keep pre-rigged lures and leaders organized. I frequently have a 80# dog and kids on board so the placement of unused rods, the net, pliers, dikes and even the garbage is well thought out. The boat is still a mess at the end of the day but at least I started with a plan. For your boat look carefully at your needs, spend an hour or so just sitting in it while parked in the driveway and think out your organizational approach. Everybody’s will be different depending on, finances, time spent in the boat, your physical limitations, whether or not you fish solo, type of fishing excreta… Take the time to organize your boat and there will be a higher likelihood that your on the water experience will be a positive one. If not at least you’ll be able to find the first aid kit if you need it, which reminds me…make sure you have some form of basic first aid kit on board.

A lot to read, but I hope that it was found useful. This year should bring some awesome fishing opportunities and being prepared with a plan will help to assure that you get the most out of your fishing time.
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Posted by: rseas
Posted: 03-05-2013, 12:27 PM
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