When the Tahoe Lake Trout are laying low and slow on the strike, many fishermen will re-rig their boats with trolling gear for the hundreds of thousands of Kokanee that are in Lake Tahoe. Like Lake Trout, Kokanee are generally deeper in the lake but during certain conditions you can find them in shallower waters.
If you are not familiar with Kokanee you are in for a big treat. They are actually landlocked Sockeye Salmon, only smaller. They have the same consistency and taste as the bigger Sockeye Salmon and many people consider Kokanee their most favorite fish to eat.
Just because you hook a Kokanee doesn’t mean that you will get them to the boat. They are known for their soft mouths and can easily come un-buttoned (come off the hook) as you fight them to the net. It takes a few hookups to dial in on the technique of keeping them on the hook during the struggle. Kokanee generally run about 12 inches long but there are some trophies in the lake that will grow close to 20 inches. These fish have a lot of spirit and fight and will hold their own against any similar sized fish in the lake.
Kokanee tend to run in schools and the trick is to find them. If you are fishing with a guide they will know what areas that the Kokanee like to hang in and can find them pretty quickly on most days.
Trolling is the most popular way of fishing for Kokanee on Lake Tahoe. Most people use downriggers to get their lines down to where the Kokanee are at. Once the line is in the downrigger then pole is set in a pole holder and the fishermen then watches the pole for any strikes. By the time the fishermen picks up the pole the Kokanee is already hooked and the fight is on. The fishing can be pretty fast and furious with multiple fish hooked and being played at any one time. Fishing for Kokanee is great fun for families and kids.
As for tackle the most attractive lure is a plastic skirted lure called a hoochie. Hoochies come in many different colors and sizes, your captain will most likely try a few different colors when trying to locate the fish. Most of the time avid Kokanee fishermen will tip their hooks with a kernal of corn soaked in a secret sauce they make up to encourage the fish to bite. At the end of the trip your hands may smell like a concoction of fish oil, garlic, shrimp and a number of other delectables that are on the corn.
If you are interested in fishing for Kokanee it is best to call your charter captain a few days ahead of time so they have time to prepare the equipment and bait. You might find that the captain will talk you out of fishing for Kokanee as many of the other species of trout may be much easier to find during the time you will be at the lake.
But Beware: Kokanee fishing can become a passion and many fishermen spend the most part of their fishing life chasing these delicious fish.