What a morning! Knowing that it was a still a bit early in the year I decided to head up the hill and chase Lake Cavanaugh kokanee. The drive up there had me second guessing the plan. The closer I got the truck thermometer was moving into the low 30s and the snow along the road was increasing from inches to feet. Arriving at the ramp I had to pull the trailer through a berm of snow to make the turn to the WDFW ramp. There was a narrow lane cut through the snow to the water so all was good. A quick launch and in short order I’m motoring away from the launch.
My plan was less about catching than it was recon and gear testing. Utilizing my 2 rod indorsement I started with a lead-line rig on one side of the boat and a rod on one of the downriggers on the other side. As the day progressed, I changed to two downrigger setups. Primarily chasing meter marks, the rigger(s) caught fish between 16-36’. I was running the lead-line rig at ½-1 color. Oddly, the 4 kokanee I hooked were all blind strikes.
I was running Poulsen Cascade Arrow Flash dodgers in a variety of colors. Green and pink seemed to have an edge over some of the other colors but the silver plate/moon jelly caught all the kokanee. That said; part of the reason I was up there was to test some of my latest kokanee flies. Although I tried pink, chartreuse, orange and some hybrids, purple was the hot ticket for the kokanee. My spinner setups and flies were tied on 8-10” or 10# fluorocarbon. Trolling speed was .9-1.2 mph with 1.0 mph being the sweet spot. On this trip I went with 60’ setback from the release clip.
As the sun broke the clouds the kokanee went into hiding but the cutthroat put the feed bag on and got snappy. For a while they would hit anything but the brighter the day got the fishery turned into a spinner show. Again, green and pink seemed to have the edge but anything flashy seemed to work. I started out tipping the hooks with tuna corn but in short order I went to bare hooks. I wanted to keep fishing and comply with the WDFW bait rule so at 6 or 7 fish bare hooks it was. I didn’t count but caught and released a lot of fish. A few were serious slab-sided cutthroat, maybe 1 pound plus.
Almost all the cutthroat and all of the big ones were hooked chasing meter marks. Many of the fish seemed to be holding in 60’ of water at the creek mouths. I did a couple laps around the lake and spent some time zig-zagging the middle. All the kokanee were caught along the northeast shore in 60’ of water.
The morning was perfect, lots of fish, a couple fish for dinner, beautiful weather and spectacular scenery! My latest collection of kokanee flies seemed to work well and am looking forward to our spring kokanee season. That said; there are people, me included that have spent tons of money to fish exotic locations around the US or even the world. The fishing today rivaled any of those locations, it was a blast and close to home. As I have said before, as fishermen we are blessed to be living in the PNW.