It’s been this spring’s It fishery, with sharpies flocking all the way over from the Westside to the big fjord in hopes of catching its shockingly large kokanee.
We’ve seen pics of Lake Chelan landlocked sockeye out to 16 inches or so, and while the local report is that they and younger fish in the 10- to 12-inch range are becoming more and more difficult to catch as we head further into summer, the word from expert angler Bill Herzog via Joel Shangle — cohosts of Northwest Wild Country Radio/TV — is that three forays over the past 10 days have found firework-hot fishing: “good,” “ridiculously good, we better count how many fish we have — we’re done” and “sitting down at 6:30 a.m. tired” because the rods were constantly going off.
That last bite occurred on an overcast day with some sort of hatch coming off that produced a shallow-water bite.
Regular Joes have been doing good too.
Yesterday reader Garrett Grubbs checked in during a break from the cherry harvest:
“I got to fish Lake Chelan a couple times for kokanee. Wow, how fun. Haven’t fished for ‘em in forever but great time. Dad and I went about a week ago and caught seven and a lake trout. All our kokanee were 14 to 15 inches and tasted soooo good on the grill. Went with my friend Stacy I think two weeks ago and we got into them as well. All fish were 14 to 16 inches. She had a blast catching fish,” he emailed.
Earlier this week guide Anton Jones of Darrell & Dad’s filed this report mentioning kokanee:
What’s hot is trolling for big Lake Trout on the Bar on Lake Chelan early in the morning. Later in the morning, the trench provides nice numbers of eating sized lakers. Kokanee on Lake Chelan are scattered and collecting more at the Narrows. We are really getting jazzed for the Upper Columbia summer salmon season.
Lake Trout continue to bite trolled Worden Lures T4 purple glow flatfish on the Bar. This bite is best before 7AM. Fish near the bottom in depths of 120’ to 160’ for best success in getting these big fish to bite. Speeds of 1.2 to 1.5 mph are most effective. Later in the morning fish Mack’s Lures Cha Cha Squidders baited with a strip of Northern Pikeminnow in the trench in depths of 175 to 245 feet deep at 1.1 to 1.4 mph.
This season’s nice sized Kokanee on Lake Chelan are getting even more difficult to locate. These fish are moving out of the lower Wapato basin now. Anglers should focus their efforts between Wapato Point and the Narrows during the first half of July. I expect them to be concentrated in the Narrows by the 4th of July getting ready to begin their uplake migration to the Stehekin River and its tributaries in the latter part of July or first part of August. You can continue to chunk out fish in the traditional spots, but it’s not easy anymore.
WDFW is predicting that large numbers of Chinook and Sockeye will be returning to our part of the world. They aren’t arriving above Wells Dam in numbers yet, but they are coming. Keep your fingers crossed that we get a thermal barrier built up at the mouth of the Okanogan.
Your fishing tip of the week is to remember not to toss your corn into the lake when you are finished Kokanee fishing. Even though it makes a great bait on the hooks, kokanee cannot digest it or pass it. If they load up on loose corn it will kill them.
The kid’s tip of the week is to create that game within the fishing activity to make it interesting. Then stack the deck so they can’t lose. One dad kept his kid happy and engaged the whole trip by doing $1 bets on first fish, biggest fish and smallest fish. Then he let him fight all the fish! The kid was thrilled at the prospect of the $3. That’s just an example. Be creative. Remember it is supposed to be fun.
The safety tip of the week is also an additional kid’s tip. Really take your time when fitting small children with life jackets. It will be way easier to keep them in a life jacket that is their favorite color and doesn’t chafe.