Kokanee bite hot on Stampede | SierraSun.com

Kokanee bite hot on Stampede

Denis Peirce
Sun News Service

Stampede Reservoir is the best bet for trolling in the area.

The “Kokanee Power” organization held their tournament this past weekend, and the winning kokanee measured in just over 16 inches.

I spoke with John Minus, emcee for the event, who said “There was not a single lure or color that produced significantly better results. The fish were caught on a wide variety of offerings.”

John had luck fishing bright orange, other boats favored white hootchies and others stuck to red spinners. The factor that influenced the number of fish hooked seemed to be the amount of boat traffic. Those getting away form other boats had more action.

Keith Kerrigan of Sierra Guide Service has been fishing Stampede for most of the summer. Donner Lake has not been producing well. Keith notes that the phenomenon of kokanee being right at the surface throughout the day is continuing.

Conventional wisdom has kokanee staying in 55-degree water down at the 44- to 52-foot depths. For some unknown reason there are large schools of kokanee up at the top, even during midday.

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Kerrigan noted that at the surface these fish are very spooky. The best way to approach them is to drift on the breeze with your motor shut off. If you spook them with a motor they will come back up soon after you move on. When asked if he had ever seen this behavior before, Kerrigan said he had not, “but another guide noticed it briefly 5 years ago.”

Keith has been doing well fishing for rainbows and mackinaw on Stampede.

Most of his rainbows have come top-lining with flashers and crawlers. The macs, up to 8 pounds, have come from depths between 50 and 100 feet with lures that mimic kokanee.

Fishing at Eagle Lake has been following its seasonal cycle. The water temps have been up in the mid-70s at the surface, although the current cooling trend has backed it off to the low-70s. The trout have all migrated to the south end of the lake and it is a function of the time of day versus depth to catch them.

Every year in midsummer the Tui Chub fry hatch and become the target food for the trout. A rule of thumb is that there will be a good number of these bait fish in the shallows starting July 20 and continuing through Aug. 20.

My contacts report that starting the last week of July, when trout were brought into the boat, they were regurgitating Tui Chubs. Also, when the trout are cleaned at the end of the fishing day their stomachs are packed with these bait fish.

Many bait fish species spawn in warm, shallow water midsummer. The warm water keeps the cold-water predators separated from their prey for the most part. The trout at Eagle Lake will venture into the warm shallows to get at the Tui Chubs for brief periods at first light. Hence, the current fishing strategy at Eagle Lake is to be on the water fishing at first light.

Trollers are getting trout as shallow as eight feet for a brief period at dawn.

Then the trout move deeper and go to their preferred temperature depth of 30 to 35 feet by the time the sun is on the water. The shallow-water action can be quite good during that period of low light and marginally cooler water.

Tui Chubs have an olive-colored back and flash gold as they move in the water. They also have a red component to their color scheme. Successful lures often include green and red (watermelon/frog) or the gold with red highlights. If you go to the south end of the lake this time of year you can see schools of these minnows around the rock jetty surrounding the marina.

Denis Peirce writes a weekly fishing column for The Union, the Sun’s sister paper in Grass Valley. He may be reached at denisp@theunion.com.