Hot fishing on Ririe Reservoir

Two weeks ago, Mike Bruton and I limited out with kokanee in three hours with some fish pushing 17-inches. We found most fish were between 15 to 30 feet below the surface and very aggressive with many breaking the surface when hooked.

When the kokanee stage at this depth, they are easy to reach with multiple styles of fishing. Downriggers, free-slide sinker system, clip-weight system and even “long-line” fishing with no weight can all be effective. All experienced kokanee fishermen have their favorite set-ups they use for catching kokanee while trolling. I have enjoyed learning to troll for them with the free-slide sinker system.

This last Wednesday, I was invited by another friend, Craig Nordfelt, to fish Ririe Reservoir with him. We started fishing at about 6:30 with both of us using the free-slide system. The first two fish we caught were trout and we saw no schools of kokanee. Our fish-finder was showing fish at 10 to 12 feet below the surface, and we were fishing down from 20 to 30 feet where we had been successful the week before.

It appeared that the recent rain accompanied with winds up to 40 miles per hour, had broken up the plankton line where the kokanee feed, causing them to scatter just under the surface. We watched an osprey catch fish on the surface and even saw kokanee actively jumping out of the water. We also found that the fish had moved up the reservoir from where they had been before. Our system of using a three-ounce weight was not working well so eventually we went to one-ounce weights and began catching kokanee.

Craig Nordfelt fights a kokanee last Wednesday on Ririe Reservoir. | Bill Schiess, EastIdahoNews.com

To be successful at trolling for these delicious salmon on Ririe, several things are critical. You must know at what depth they are feeding and during the spring and early summer, that is usually from 20 to 40 feet below the surface. As the water warms, they may drop down below 70 feet. That makes them hard to get to unless you have downriggers.

Next, you have to find in what area of ​​the reservoir the schools are, and this can change from day to day. This spring they seem to be hanging out up in the canyon from the powerline to the Narrows. On Wednesday, several fishermen found them all way to Blacktail, the area from the dam to the first bend seemed to be void of them.

Speed ​​is also critical for catching kokanee. They like that trolling speed to be around one mile to 1.5 miles per hour. Trout will hit the same lures if you troll about two miles per hour.

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Mike Bruton with a nice kokanee at Ririe Reservoir. | Bill Schiess, EastIdahoNews.com

Most fishermen troll with a dodger followed by double-hook lure like a “wedding ring” or a hoochie, each hook is tipped with colored and scented corn. My favorite scent is a shrimp/krill oil mix. Some fishermen will use a small “pop-gear” instead of the dodger; kokanee like a lot of flash to attract them. I have added quarter-ounce and half-ounce weights to my fishing bag to reach those shallow fish.

As the summer heats up, it is best to fish early in the morning as other recreational folks will start showing up, causing a lot of rough water which makes fishing a little tougher. I also think with a couple of hot days, the kokanee will be between 20 to 40 feet down where they were earlier.

If you are unfamiliar with the different types of kokanee fishing, Google them. There is a ton of great videos that will show you how each system is set up.

The water temperature on Wednesday was at 57 degrees, so it shouldn’t be long before the bass become active, adding another opportunity for sportsmen. If you find slow fishing, eagles, osprey and even snakes swimming across the reservoir can be entertaining.

As Mike and I were coming off the reservoir, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game were stocking 200,000 kokanee fingerlings. These will be the ones we catch in a year or two.

Have a great summer but be safe and courteous with others.

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Best fishing for kokanee has been the canyon area about two miles from the Juniper boat ramp. | Bill Schiess, EastIdahoNews.com

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