After a long day of losing Kokanee all you can do is laugh and shake your head.
On Wednesday (4th of July) I took advantage of the new kokanee limit on Lake Whatcom, and along with two other people put 20 fish in my boat (I limited, they each got 5). Today I was ready to get back to the lake and have a repeat, but my normal partners in crime were both busy. I invited another guy, but he warned me Friday night he was out drinking and sure enough I got the text this morning that he would not be joining me at the launch.
No problem, I thought, first solo Kokanee trip of the year. I was so confident in a quick limit that I threw the bass gear in the boat for after I limited. I arrived at the launch at a lazy 7am and set up my boat and got my painless AIS inspection before launching and getting a line in the water by 7:30. 4 or 5 boats had beat me to the water and I could see a couple nets going already as I motored out to the deeper water.
I tipped my hooks with special corn and dropped down. While I was getting my fish finder set up I looked up and my rod was already dancing. I got the fish all the way to the boat and decided to boat lift it as I had no one to net for me; right after it broke the surface the fish jumped off the hook and swam for freedom, "oh well there will be plenty more". In the next 10 minutes I would repeat the exact same series of events 2 more times. "Okay looks like it's time to use the net". The next 4-5 bites were short bites, and I didn't have a hook file on board, so I decided to take a break to put a brand new set of hooks on. Following that I got another few fish right to the side of the boat, but the only one that I could get the net under before it shook the hooks was a 10" cutthroat, I grabbed my pliers and made a touch free release, you cannot retain cutthroat on this lake. Following the cutthroat, the sun poked through the clouds, the wind picked up, and the bite died completely for me. I trolled for an hour without a nibble, I could not believe it. After that hour though, it was game on and I was back to bites every 5 minutes. I missed so many at the net that all I could do was laugh, cry, and laugh some more. After having 10 fish to the boat - a limit with someone else netting - I only had 2 fish in my cooler and 8 had claimed their freedom from the jaws of capture. By the end of the day I had improved my ratio, but still netted a miserable 7 out of 18 kokanee I had at the boat. I can't even begin to guess how many other fish short bit or popped off sometime before I could get them to the boat, but its a lot, I've never gone through so much corn on a single rod. Hard to complain about 7 fish, when it is still the 2nd most I have ever caught in a single day!
For gear, I'm using an arrow flash followed by a self tied rasticle on octopus hooks. I do not use a blade on the rasticle, just 2 small UV beads. Simpler seems to be better this year. For corn I think I invented a never before used secret recipe while drinking on the eve of 4th of July - Sriracha and Garlic Powder! It seems to be working great for me, but with only 1 rod allowed on lake Whatcom it's hard to do a side-by-side comparison, so I'm hoping one of you is crazy enough to perform an independent verification for me! Fish are all throughout the water column and lake, but the most consistent big fish seem to be coming right near the bottom in 45-65 fow. My largest today was 13.5" and we had several over 13" on Wednesday.
Get out and lose some Kokanee of your own!