Recently, I’ve been learning more about fishing for kokanee in our local lakes.
For years I’ve always wondered what those guys were doing trolling out in the middle of the lake during the summer months. Kokanee are landlocked salmon that are born and raised in most of our local lakes. They don’t get very big in size but are very good to eat and are fairly easy to catch.
So far, we’ve been doing well while trolling for them at either Lake Pardee or New Melones. Our best luck seems to be in the morning, because they seem to bite less once the sun gets high.
What’s nice about fishing for kokanee is that they’re usually found in schools, making them easy to spot on most fish finders and are very aggressive. They’re also salmon, so not only do they taste great but they put up one heck of a fight.
What I found challenging about catching kokanee is their soft mouths. They have one of the softest mouths of any fish I’ve ever caught, making them tough to land, especially when they are avoiding being scooped up by a net. You really have to play them lightly.
If you can land 70 percent of the kokanee that bite, you’re having a pretty good day.
The bite is currently very good. If you’re looking for some early-morning action, New Melones or Don Pedro Lake are both on fire right now.
With the increase in temperature look for the bass to seek shade. Lots of small fish are being caught on reaction baits, but the bigger bass are being caught by those throwing snag proof frogs and flipping.
This time of year, it’s important to pay attention to the wind. Buzzbaits and spinnerbaits can be extremely effective fished on the outside weed edges during windy conditions.
New Melones Lake
Kokanee are being caught by a lot of anglers fishing near Rose Island, the dam and near Glory Hole Point. The bass bite remains good for anglers throwing reaction baits Pop-R’s and Zara Spooks are providing nice bites during the low light hours of the day.
Anglers fishing during the day are focusing on deep drops or Island tops while fishing a Carolina rig with either a baby brush hog or Senko fished weightless.
The panfish bite is better than previous years as fish are being caught all over the lake but especially in the backs of coves with sunken brush.
Lake Don Pedro
Kokanee fishing is really good on the lake for anglers trolling from 40 to 60 feet deep.
Trout are being caught at around 30 feet deep for anglers trolling wedding rings tipped with a night crawler.
Bass fishing is good right now in the mornings and evenings for those fishing with top water lures. Zara Spooks and poppers are working well.
During the day anglers fishing for bass are using either worms or jigs fished from the bank down to 30 feet deep.
Trout fishing is starting to slow down as the water temperatures have risen. Those who are catching trout are fishing as deep as 45 feet to catch them. Bass fishing has also started to get tougher for anglers as bass have moved deeper. Those having success are focusing on suspending fish over off shore rock piles.
Smallmouth bass have been providing excellent action for anglers fishing late and early with top-water lures. Once the sun is high try switching to small plastic baits fished deep, shaky head worms, darter heads, and drop shotted Robo Worms in either a craw or shad pattern should produce good results.
Shasta Tackle’s Shuttle Hawk does what is says it does. It takes your line down to your desired depth, and once it becomes disconnected from your line, it returns to the surface. What I didn’t know was that it doesn’t float!
Recently, while out fishing, I watched my $15 Shuttle Hawk disappear into the depths of New Melones Lake as I desperately tried to retrieve it. Fortunately for me I had another one on board, but now I have to go out today and replace the one I lost.
On June 28 at 6p.m., Bub Tosh from Paycheck Baits will be giving a demonstration on top water frogs and punching at Fisherman’s Warehouse in Manteca.
Those who come will be given a free monofilament fill up on one reel of their choice, so make sure to bring a reel with you.
To contact Jarod Ballardo, email firstname.lastname@example.org.