Thursday, July 16, 2009

Kokenee Fishing At Flaming Gorge, 2009

After two years of fantastic Kokenee fishing we didn’t realize we had been spoiled. This year the lake is exacting its revenge. We have been out three times and have only caught three salmon. It isn’t just us, it’s most other boats, notice I said most?
We launched our boat and for some reason I looked into the battery compartment only to see water streaming into the boat! I turned on both bilge pumps and actually drained out the hull but I could see two water fountains streaming from the aft live well control valve.
Renita had driven and parked the truck and so it seemed a long wait before she and Molly reached the dock. I had her watch the boat as I hurried to the truck and then loaded the boat. Pulling the boat into the parking lot we stuffed a plug into the livewell drain hole and put plastic bags into the livewell intakes,(there are two). Launching the boat, the leak had slowed to a very slow seepage so we headed out to try our luck.
It wasn’t long and we put a Kokenee into the boat, nothing big, but a nice eater. Dinner was assured and thoughts of grilled salmon filled my head,(did I say I have been gaining weight?). We continued our troll and continued and continued and no more bites, hmmmmm.
About an hour later a pole wiggled and then released and Renita yelled, “My turn”! It was obvious the fish was quite a bit larger but she skillful fought the fish and we soon had it in the net and then on ice. It was 21.5 inches which is about a four pound fish and a couple of inches larger than mine.
Being used to being out fished by her, I was just happy that we had another salmon. We saw a large group of boats by Upper Marsh Creek and so we slowly trolled in that direction. By the time we got there most of the boats had left.
Strangely we didn’t see any nets flash, not a good sign. I did manage to get crossed up with another boat and was rewarded with a fouled line and a lost lure as he cut my line with the steel cable of his downrigger. Maybe hand signals for which way we were going would have been in order?
We fished for a few more hours and had two bites. As it was my turn I grabbed the pole and managed to lose both fish. Going back to where we caught the first fish a lake trout decided to tempt its fate and it ended up in the ice cooler. Renita looked at me and simply said, “Finally, I thought you would never catch another one”.
Now it was her turn and another pole released. Renita skillfully fought the fish in and I slipped the net under another nice salmon. She looked at me and just smiled, but I knew that smirk behind her dark brown eyes. How well I know that smirk!
We fished a bit more and decided to call it a day. We loaded the boat and filleted the fish before returning home and working on the leaks. The next day we launched the boat only to find that my repairs had been fruitless and the same two streams of water flowed into the boat.
We did the usual plastic bags in the live well intakes and the flow stopped. We might as well have gone in but we fished the morning and only caught one rainbow trout. It was a good fight and a nice fish but rainbow trout taste pretty bad, compared to salmon and so we released it.
The next day I decided to fix the leak and so I opened the battery compartment and saw that there were four hoses that had to be removed to access the live well control valve. The first three came off ok, but the fourth broke off and now I had a huge open hole in the high speed water intake,(Used to keep fresh water on the fish as you cruise across the lake. Live wells typically drain and the fish die without it).
After a trip to Rock Springs, and another day of repair I finally had the boat fixed. We launched it the next day and spent five hours without a release from the downriggers. Returning home, frustrated we saw our neighbors eating dinner and found that their luck had been much better.
Not only had they caught ten salmon, but they had caught a possible new world International Game Fish Association record. It was for catching a 4 pound fifteen ounce Kokenee on six pound test line. We watched as Wes measured and weighed the fish and then we signed his forms as witnesses,(Wes and his Dad, Fred, are pictured above).
Wes kindly told us how they had been fishing and he tied and gave us five of the rigs they were using.
He did say that the fishing, or should I say catching, was all over by ten o’clock in the morning, thus giving us another excuse for our poor showing. As if I didn’t have enough excuses! Clear skies.

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