The kokanee are biting big time at Ririe Reservoir

Living the Wild Life

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The rod in the holder began to vibrate wickedly as a kokanee fought hard to escape the baited lure as we were trolling near the Ririe Reservoir dam earlier this week.

“Lauren, you have a fish on your rod,” Wayne Clayton of Rexburg alerted his six-year old grand-niece whose mother had brought her up from Pocatello to fish with Uncle Wayne. The fish fought hard but Lauren was able to finally subdue it and boated her first fish.

“This is fun. When I grow up I don’t want to catch a big fish because it is too hard, but I want to catch a lot of fish,” said the petite young lady. “Uncle Wayne, I want to come again.”

It was the beginning of a great two hours of fishing for two old happy men entertained by the joy and enthusiasm of the young lady. But true to the fishermen code of stretching the truth a little, when she was questioned by family members about how many she caught — she might have exaggerated.

“How many fish did you catch?” she was asked. Placing her hands on her hips and with a tilt of her head and a proud look, “Fourteen!” was the proud reply as she headed to her mom’s car with a few fish in a bag. I don’t know if Lauren and Uncle Wayne had colluded on the way home about the numbers caught but she was sure of that number. If they colluded, I hope there is a recording of it.

Wayne Clayton of Rexburg and his six-year-old grandniece | Bill Schiess,

Two days later I fished with two adults and we end up with 38 “keepers” but did not have as much fun as Lauren with whatever true numbers she had. As we were loading the boat three fishermen approached us and asked how we were catching them as they had only caught one. There are a lot of successful kokanee fishermen at Ririe and I will try to explain a couple of ways that have proven successful for us.

First of all, kokanee are very SPEED SENSATIVE!!!!!!!! To catch kokanee consistently one must be trolling less than 1.4 miles per hour on Ririe. Smaller kokanee will hit from 1.0 to 1.4 miles per hour while the larger ones (12-15 inches) .7 to 1.0 seems to produce them consistently.

Bill Schiess,

Downriggers are a great help to get down to the large schools of kokes from 20 to 60 feet below the surface. The rods are set up with a dodger trailing a “wedding ring,” or a hoochie with the hooks tipped with white shoepeg that has been dyed red and flavored with krell, anise and shrimp scent. This year the color pink and orange appear to be the most effective attractors.

Some fishermen who do not have downriggers use a heavy weight attached to a nylon cord to get their lures to the depth they want.

Bill Schiess,

Another successful way is to use the same lures and bait but attach it to leadcore line. We have found that early in the morning we are finding a lot of success using four to five colors (40-50 yards) of 18-pound leadcore behind the boat. Since I do not have an electric or kicker motor to get my boat slow enough, I drag two five gallon buckets about six feet behind my boat.

We like to fish from 6 a.m. until about 11 a.m. before the boaters and skiers get on the water as the sun worshipers need to enjoy the water. We also find that the schools of fish often drop below 60 to 80 feet about mid-morning and their feeding slows.

As Lauren could attest, two to three hours is all that is needed to enjoy an outing at Ririe Reservoir – if you know how to fish for them. I do know that we brought home 16 fish, meaning that if she caught 14 of them, the two experienced old men each got one.

Bill Schiess,

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