This is the time of year when I start thinking about trophy Kokanee and big Rainbows. I’ve just came off of four and a half months of salmon fishing. I will take half of October and all of November off to do some big game hunting and unwind from the year. This is also is the time of year I do my maintenance and prepping of gear for the upcoming winter season.
Winterizing your boat can be very important when you’re fishing in sub freezing temperatures. Don’t forget to drain your wash down pump.
I will start up in December chasing trophy Kokanee. They can be some of the funnest fish to catch and also hardest to find. Luckily we have some awesome Rainbow Trout in my home Waters of Lake Roosevelt that I also fish throughout the winter. This is an amazing lake with a huge abundance of Rainbow Trout. The Tribes put 750,000 trout in the lake every year!! There is a great population of truly trophy Kokanee in the lake that are a wild strain of Kokanee, and they average from 19 to 24 inches. These fish have shoulders, and they can weigh anywhere from 3 to 5 pounds with Washington State record coming out of Lake Roosevelt at 6.25 pounds. These are truly an awesome representation of the species.
As I mentioned earlier, boat preparation is very important. But don’t forget your tow vehicle. Having a few items in your vehicle can mean the difference between fishing or not. It’s a good idea when fishing in Eastern Washington or any other area where there is significant snowfall and, or freezing temperatures. It’s a good idea to have a set of tire chains, tow strap, a bag of ice melt, shovel, hand warmers and a propane heater. The weather can be very unpredictable and these things can be a life saver when you’re trying to get your boat out of the water at the end of the day in slick conditions. Also to help another angler get their vehicle out of the launch when they’re stuck so that you are able to launch your boat or clearing the launch so you can pull your boat out of the water. By taking the time to have a few simple items in your winter kit it can mean the difference between a fun and successful day on the water or a long day of cold frustration.
Once I’ve got my boat in the water, my go to technique for catching these great fish is trolling Kokanee Dodgers and Hoochie’s as well as trolling jointed Rapalas, Streamer flies and muddler flies. At speeds ranging from 1.4-2.0 mph. Offshore Tackle side planners are a huge part of the arsenal that I use on the lake. The side planners allow me to get my lures out and away from the boat as well as being able to fish as many as eight rods at a time with minimal tangles. The fish are on or near the surface in the top 20 feet of the water column. Getting my lures away from the boat is a key part of my success. The lures will be anywhere from 100 to 150 feet behind the side planner. The farthest outside planner board could be one hundred feet from the side of the boat. Side planners allow you to cover a lot of water, and every pass you make will help to narrow down where the fish are or where they are not. It’s an extremely effective way to fish. My go to bait is shoepeg corn cured in Pro-Cure Kokanee Killer Korn Magic. I always have two tubs of corn one is dyed pink and one is cured in its natural color. Some of my go to scents that I always have on the boat are Kokanee Special, sweet corn, Anise Krill and Anise Craw. Maggots can be very effective as well. The beauty of maggots is that they are very tough, so if the fish strikes at the bait and doesn’t get hooked you will still have bait and they will hit it again. When I’m fishing in freezing conditions I keep all bait in the bait cooler not to keep it cold but to keep in from freezing. I will add some room temperature water bottles to the cooler to help keep a little warmth in the cooler. This is essentially important for your live bait maggots and worms.
I hope some of these tips help you to have a successful and enjoyable day on the water.