The Kokanee are hiding at Ririe Reservoir

Living the Wild Life

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Area ice fishermen’s dream came true in the early morning hours of Jan. 3 as Ririe Reservoir capped over and two days later a few fishermen ventured out on the 3 inch clear thickness. By Tuesday the ice had deepened to between four to five inches with 28 coldfooters dotting the hard surface, but the wind on Sunday and Monday created spider web patterns of cracks through it.

The snow and moderate temperatures in recent days stalled the ice from building any deeper keeping most fishermen within 200 yards of the Juniper Boat Ramp. Now the dream for Kokanee hunters is for some colder weather to develop enough ice so they will feel safe to move to their preferred spots.

The group of old, retired men that have ice fished together on Ririe for many years are not finding much success in the limited area where they feel safe. The big schools of Kokanee are not coming through the fishing area.

“We occasionally see a small group come flying through but they will not stop or bite,” said Jim. “You might get a bump or two and then they are gone.”

“It is still early for them to bunch up,” said Ed, the most successful fisherman of the group. “By Super Bowl Sunday we will be catching them.”

“Before it froze over, I caught perch and trout off the docks,” said Verl. “But have not caught a koke yet.”

In three trips to the reservoir I have caught one Kokanee and 38 perch and have only seen one school of Kokanee come under me. In those three days I have only seen five Kokanee landed. On Thursday during the snow storm, most fishermen were reporting seeing small schools of fish 40 feet below the surface.

Instead of fishing for them with only my Kokanee rigs, I decided to use one rig for perch and one for Kokanee. I caught one perch on the Kokanee rig and 11 perch on the perch rig out of those schools.

Could it be that the small groups of fish appearing on the fish finders are really perch moving off the bottom and not even Kokanee? Are the Kokanee farther up the reservoir where the fishermen fear to tread on thin ice? Could Ed be right that they will start feeding as we get closer to February?

Thursday as I was fishing off by myself several fishermen escaped tending their unproductive rods and came over to shoot the breeze. I know the feeling well – someone else may have the answer to what it going on with the kokes.

“Do you think it will turn around soon?” questioned Keland. “Been here since morning for one small perch.”

“I have been waiting for this to freeze up for a long time but now the Kokanee are not showing up,” a second Jim reported. “But even the kokes at Mackay have quit.”

“Sitting out here in the snow getting soaked is a lot better than watching my 401 tank while I am unemployed,” commented a government worker waiting for the feds to reopen. His other comments should not be printed or repeated.

As my friend, Craig, puts it; “Ice fishermen are eternal optimists, we have great anticipation about our trips on the ice, are not very successful but dream about getting back on the ice only to be unsuccessful again. We do this over and over again until it finally turns around.”

If you want to follow the conditions and success on Ririe, Bob, the manager of the Juniper campground, reports to Sportsman’s Warehouse or you can join the Idaho Ice Fishing Reports! facebook page. I will also put a sentence in my next couple of articles to let you know how Ririe has been treating me.

If you just cannot resist going to Ririe – be very careful. With snow now covering the ice, there could be very dangerous spots hiding under the white stuff.

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