Last year, Hayden Lake was just on fire. Limits most every time I went out, taking me 5-6 hours typically to finish.
But man, this year I'm struggling. On the water yesterday from 8:30am to 4:30pm and only boated 7, 6 of which were keepers. Lost at least that many other bites, typical of Kokanee. Very similar to the result I got 4 days prior, also on Hayden.
My general strategy is to troll around until I find them and get a bite, then stay on them. Which I did. But even when I found them and worked an area like this, it seemed like I had a hard time getting them to bite. And after going over the school a couple times, the bites would just stop. On to finding them again. It sucks up a lot of time.
I know some guys are well dialed in and having big success, but I suspect there are more who are like me, getting some fish but not really killing them.
I used a variety of presentations, and most everything I tried got some attention. Pink hoochies (the go-to for this lake), orange wedding rings, red wedding rings, a couple different color Arctic Fox flies. None really stood out over the others, although if I had to pick a winner it was the red wedding ring. But they all got bites. All were tipped with shoepeg corn. Krill anise scent.
Used all my favorite sling blade dodgers. Also used Ford Fenders and the Mack's twirly things. The Mack's seem to work a little better, as well as having a lot less drag.
I run two rods, with the endorsement of course. I generally have better success off the downriggers than using divers or lead, but not always. The shallower the fish are hanging out, the more I tilt toward divers and lead. I'm a believer in putting the presentation well behind the boat regardless - 80 to 120 feet. Although if you're fishing deep, it's less critical. But don't listen to me. Obviously I'm not nearly as good at this as some guys.
My Fishhawk said the ideal zone was 30-40 feet. And that's typically where I catch the most fish through the summer. But I couldn't get any bites that deep. All the bites came in 15-20 foot range. Surface temp was low to mid 60's depending on where I was and the time of day.
Hopefully it'll get better as we get into summer. Love this little lake. Some really nice fish. But for me at least, so far it's a lot tougher than it was last year, for whatever reason.