Bruce Ajari: Kokanee still biting at Stampede
It had been a long time since I had done any Kokanee salmon fishing. One of my good fishing friends from Tahoe City invited me out on his boat a couple of weeks ago to try our luck out at Stampede Reservoir.
Stampede is a well-known Kokanee impoundment. Kokanee (Onchorhnycus nerka), or landlocked sockeye salmon, is a terrific fish for the table. My past experience told me that we would have to be on the water early this late in the year.
My friend, Fred, suggested that he pick me up at my place around 4:30 a.m. I had not been up that early for quite some time. Unfortunately, I had gotten back home from a road trip visiting my daughter around midnight the previous night.
I dragged my weary body out of bed around 3:45 and quickly got ready. I had a small pack in which I put a thermos of coffee that I would really need that morning, along with a warm fleece jacket. My friend arrived about fifteen minutes early.
After a 20-minute ride we were at the launch ramp at Stampede Reservoir, where we met up with a couple of our friends. They launched first, and we subsequently put in. From what I could tell we were the first boats in the water, although by 9 a.m. it looked like the Spanish Armada.
We began trolling near the Little Truckee River inlet and I was given a lesson on how to maintain the downrigger on my side. This was fairly new to me. The downriggers would go off occasionally, and we boated some Kokanee and a very small mackinaw.
Water temperature was a surprising 51 degrees and only as high as around 53 degrees during the day. That is extremely cold for this time of year. As a result, fishing for Kokanee has been doing well much later into the season.
Fred had us using Kokanee bugs tipped with white corn. As I had heard in the past when fishing for Kokanee, without the white corn the fish do not seem to bite as well.
We trolled in the Little Truckee and Sagehen Creek arms during the rest of our trip, and we caught our limit of Kokanee right around 9:30 or so and were off the water and home by around 10 a.m.
As table fare, Kokanee are really hard to beat. Fresh or smoked, they are among the tastiest fish that swim in our local waters, and the size at Stampede this year is pretty good. Most of the fish we caught were around 13 to 16 inches.
Get out and give Kokanee fishing a try during this extended early season. It is always great to spend time with friends on a fishing outing.
and#8212; Bruce Ajari is a Truckee resident and regular fishing columnist for the Sierra Sun and other area newspapers.
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Students frustrated at the cancellation of sports waved signs and delivered speeches at a Truckee High School protest in an attempt to return to the field this year.