I just got back from Kokanee Mecca or was that Kokanee Heaven? Well it’s both if you consider what the offerings are at Flaming Gorge… the ultimate Kokanee destination! I’ve been a bit jealous of hearing all the great trip reports from the last two years so I finally figured out how I might get there without pulling the boat on the long journey with other California Kokanee addicts making their annual trips out there. The solution was to bid and win the trip earlier this year at the Kokanee Power Banquet ala the live auction. The trip was setup through Jared Johnson, owner of Rocky Mountain Tackle and Radical Glo Tubes. Karla and I flew out there Thursday morning and Jared picked us up and we got settled in up at the Buckboard Marina early afternoon.
I hate to call this a fishing trip because it was short on “fishing” and all about “catching” big Kokanee and refining your reeling techniques, downrigger practice, netting techniques and how to keep lines in the water when the bite was on which was next to impossible. Those who watch NASCAR can relate easily to being a pit crew in action every minute but working for several hours straight till you have a chance to breathe after the morning bite slowed down a bit.
We warmed up by fishing Thursday afternoon for about 3 hours or just a mile or so away from Buckboard Marina which was where Jared was conveniently located with his boat in the slip. It took us about 5 minutes to hook a fish… a slow bite to Jared he told us but we managed to go through a couple dozen fish or so to get warmed up on all the gear and how to finesse and muscle these 3 to 4 lb brutes. A slow bite.. yah right! An afternoon swim got us relaxed and cooled off in the high desert atmosphere.
On Friday we headed out at o-dark thirty 25 minutes south to another popular spot for Jared and there were a number of boats showing up as well. Unlike the slow bite from yesterday it took us about a minute to get into fish and it didn’t slow down for us until a couple of hours. Jared kept asking me why I was laughing so much while we couldn’t keep a line down and I just told him this was insane fishing and now I’m spoiled for life! We went in for a wonderful lunch and then the famous wind came up after that so we were done for the day.
Sat – Carbon copy Friday report. Jared had two radio fishing shows to call in live to and of course while he is on the air we scored a double and he had fun trying to net and talk at the same time which was hilarious as he accidentally hung up the phone as it was wedged between his head and shoulder while trying to net. We had already C&R'd 21 fish the last 75 minutes. We came in early afternoon and Jared took us on a wonderful tour of the scenic part of the Gorge and lunch at the Red Canyon summit (see photos). What an awesome place and stark contrast of climates from the middle part of the lake.
Sunday – Another carbon copy from Sat… monster bite the first few hours and then a steady bite the rest if the day till we had to leave the lake around 2 or so. We did fish a few different areas and found a few fish that snapped our fresh 12lb leaders during their aerial displays which were incredible but of course depressing as we think they were some of the biggest fish of the trip since we saw them do it while showing off their acrobatic skill.
Fishing setups – Incredibly simple and deadly…
– RMT White UV, Pink UV and Clear UV Hoochies in that order of dominance.
– Pair that with a RMT Blue Bahama or Hyper Plaid Dodger
– Tipped with a Berkeley Gulp maggots used on single hook rigs for everything which let us get a fish unhooked quickly for a release.
– Throw on some Pro-Cure scent as well every once in a while… we used mainly Herring and Crawfish.
Fish were 40 to 60 foot deep and all in good shape with only a couple that were turning pink. Our fish were mostly in the mid 3 lb range on up to over 4 lbs. We were hoping to get a five pound class fish of course but those bad boys were elusive and a few of our bigger ones were lost through aerials or tug-of-war antics during the fight.
With all that said I was amazed at the sustained bite we had over 4 days and in listening to the VHF radio and observing the other boats we were out-fishing them 10 to 1 or more so we had a fleet of followers and people checking us out through video cameras and binoculars which was a bit entertaining and Jared swore they all must be Californians...
I said Yep... I have a pair in my boat... BUSTED!
Those that knew Jared came over to get the tips and he floated them some rigged up Hoochies so they could get into the action. It was absolute Kokanee nirvana to partake of such a great fishery and be with a guy who has the lake dialed in every day with the setups, locations and making Kokanee fishing look so easy. Obviously I’m already thinking about next year.
I want to thank Jared Johnson for the awesome trip he provided for us as he took care of so many details in advance and this was a trip we won't ever forget. I just need to figure out how to retire early and move closer and start a resort called "KokaneeLand".
On with the pictures…. I have a number of videos I may try to get up on Youtube this week as well.
1. The first signs to Flaming Gorge!
2. The Marina Store.... are we fishing yet?
3. How could we possibly drive 5 1/2... Kokanee are waiting our arrival
4. Part of the Marina in the distance.
5. A common pose that repeated itself.. oh about 150 times just for me over 4 days!
6. One of the very few fish with color.
7. Karla shows off her big fish.
8. A nice bright fish.
9. A couple more slugs!
10. Stepping up the game with another one we saved for pictures.
11. A new pose I learned from Jared to make a fish look bigger than life. For some reason these fish don't really need photo tricks.
12. No corn allowed in the Gorge... we went through a full jar of these maggots.
13. Our last photo fish of the trip and our gracious host Jared Johnson on the left.
14. Touring the Flaming Gorge end...spectacular stuff and pictures do not do it justice.
15. Spectacular stuff... There are Kokanee down at this end but not as many and generally a bit smaller, of course that means they are still bigger than California Kokanee. The water is about 1400 feet below and we are at about 7500 feet.
16. More flaming walls.
17. Below the dam, the famous Green River a trophy trout fishery.
18. On the way back to Salt Lake City Jared has a special hole in the wall family owned Chinese place that served excellent meals.. a sweet and sour chicken like no other I have eaten. We loved the name of the restaurant so it was worthy of a few pictures.
19. This place has been around a long time and is a family run operation.