The 2018 Lake Stevens Kokanee Derby has come and gone. As always, the event was well run and focused on family fun. There were 52 Kids fishing the derby and every one of them went home with a prize, big smile and a lifelong memory. Although I didn’t have any wee ones on the boat, one of our kids, now an adult and Lake Stevens Kokanee Derby veteran joined me for this year’s event.
We left the house about midnight and after an uneventful drive south we were in line (yes, in line) at about 12:45. There were already 4 or 5 rigs in the parking lot and 2 boats ahead of us in the launch line. All went well and we were tied up at the dock in anticipation of good things to come by 1:00. With the mooring lines secured my fishing comrade immediately fell asleep while I fiddled with the gear and scrutinized a recently downloaded Lowrance SW upgrade.
Enough waiting around… We pulled away from the dock and headed for the main body of the lake at about 4:30. Once we were at my planned starting point along the east shore of the lake I setup the riggers and we got to work. Utilizing our 2 rod endorsements we were able to run 4 poles. Knowing that we would adjust our presentation as required we started with different setups and staggered the depth for each rod.
As soon as I had the 4th rod set we had a double with a drive by on a third rod. After a brief fight one of the fish negotiated a long release. The other fish was still taking line and clearly a slab. The fish was a feisty one and pulled the dodger clear of the water during many of its aerial attempts to gain its freedom. In the end it was a bad case of CRS that granted the fish its wishes. CRS or Cocky Randy Syndrome; The fish had swum back under one of the downrigger booms and instead of working it back out into clear water before netting it I tried to scoop it up under the downrigger boom. While thinking what the heck I never miss a fish at the net, the fish’s struggle for freedom was successful. From that point forward the action was steady. We were losing a gazillion fish but still putting enough fish in the box to know that it was going to be a good day.
In the morning we had started with a couple different new spinner setups that I had been messing around with, a pink and gray Elgin Gods Tooth spoon and another spoon that I had customized, rigging it for kokanee fishing. All the lures were following Arrow Flash dodgers and the pointy end of things were tipped with tuna corn (frozen and refrozen many times since I made it up earlier this year). Although everything was seeing action it was clear that the Gods Tooth spoon had the edge. In short order I was running 4 different color Gods Tooth spoons and we were on the fish! The Gods Tooth spoons were rigged as a double hook setup on 15” of Segar fluorocarbon. My setback from the release clip was 60’ and the most active depth was at 38-42’. Our trolling speed was between 1.0 and 1.2 MPH which happens to be my minimum speed at idle with 4 riggers down. By late morning the mid-day doldrums had settled in and the bite slowed down.
Aubriel suggested that we try one of my custom tied kokanee flies and I decided to run a couple Brad’s Kokanee Cut Plugs. That was all it took and the bite was back on and we finished off our kokanee limits. Although we had our boat limit for kokanee we could still fish for trout. To target the trout, instead of running the gear at 40’ feet we started working the top 20’ of water. After a couple drive-bys we got a beautiful cutthroat and headed for the weigh-in.
The weigh-in personal have got the routine down and the line went smoothly. Although in the end it didn’t hold up when we weighed in we had the bag limit weight. This year’s event was a blast and as in past years a family reunion of sorts for our regional kokanee fisherman. We ended up with 21 fish, our 20 fish kokanee limit and a beautiful 22” cutthroat. The Lake Stevens Kokanee Derby is on our "do not miss list" and in great anticipation we will look forward to the 2019 derby.