Kokanee Salmon are fish that tend to hang out around deeper water levels. There isn’t a whole lot of consistency, though. They hang out just under schools of bait-fish, despite being almost completely zooplankton feeders. Being close to these baitfish, however, is good cover from the other fish that want to eat them, such as Rainbows or Bull trout.
But, how deep would be the optimal depth to troll? Kokanee salmon can be found at varying depths depending on the time of year and body of water. The most common range for kokanee trolling is between 10 and 40 feet. I generally troll at 18 feet until I can get a good reading from the fish finder.
Depths for Kokanee Salmon Fishing
Kokanee Salmon are deeper swimming fish. They have sensitive eyes, so the salmon stay lower in the water to stay away from the more intense light that is common in shallower levels.
The Kokanee have a habit of swimming parallel with the shore. I learned this when ice fishing with some buddies in January 2018. A veteran fisherman came over to my set of holes that were all lined up about 5 feet apart. He said that since my holes were all lined up parallel to the shore I might as well be fishing in one hole of having them all together.
After I got over the slightly rude call-out of my mistake, I set up my lines every 10 feet from the shore. I started catching Kokanee a lot more frequently. I applied this knowledge during the spring and summer fishing seasons and noticed that this was true as well. If I timed it correctly, I could follow school of fish as they traveled either up or down the side of the bank.
Kokanee like to hang out just off the drop-offs in the deeper parts of the lake. Places like these allows the fish to not move but still be close enough to a food source, kind of like the river fish who hang out right next to the heavy currents where their food comes from.
Kokanee Salmon are some of the more energy-aware fish, so they spend a great deal of time just chilling in the water conserving their energy. The only time that they move is when there is food in front of their faces or there is something annoying them.
Kokanee will follow a dodger and hook if it looks like food, but then will bite only when the action of the lure makes it angry. Because of this, you will first need to travel over the Kokanee and get your hooks near enough to be seen.
How to Get Your Line Deep Enough for Kokanee
Getting your hook to be seen by the fish can be difficult because some Kokanee are at least 20 feet down, and most of the time they are around 60 feet down. The easiest way to get a hook and line down that deep is by using a downrigger on a bigger boat. The downriggers are usually more expensive and can be dangerous to put on a kayak.
The down rigger is a piece of equipment that will help bring down the line to very deep depths. What it specifically does is attach a weight that is very easily unclipped from the line. The weight is connected to a crank and line that has a line counter on it to tell exactly how deep the line has gone.
Once a fish in on your hook, either you or the fish will yank hard enough to get the hook away from the downrigger’s weight and you will be able to reel in the fish uninhibited by a heavy weight to get it down that deep.
But down-riggers can get very expensive, even a manual crank one. The electric ones can get up there, as much of the fishing equipment can be. The downrigger is the best way, but there are still good ways to get your line down to 50+ feet.
There is something called a leaded line. This is a type of fishing line that has a lead core. The outside is usually covered by some type of braid or a different material.
What the leaded line is supposed to do is to get the line down deep without hurting the action of the lures as a weight would. The line is very strong but is somewhat thicker in diameter than other lines this makes it only good for trolling, but it does very well. You can get to those optimal depths with a leaded line very easily.
The price of the leaded line can get expensive as well, but if purchased in the right amount, it is still very much cheaper than buying a downrigger.
Sliding weights are just what they seem to be. They are a weight that is able to slide up and down on the line. This can help with the line being too weighted down. The sliding weight can help get the lure down to the wated depth, but then after that, the weight does not inhibit the line and actin of the lure.
Best Rigs for Catching Kokanees at Any Depth
Because Kokanee Salmon are so popular to catch, there is a lot of knowledge on the best ways to catch them. Every professional angler, and everyone who knows how to catch Kokanee Salmon when trolling knows that hoochies are the way to go. I’ve written a complete guide on the best setups for kokanee fishing before.
A hoochie is an artificial lure that has many little plastic trailers that attract fish towards the fish. They come in a lot of colors, but the ones confirmed to work the best for Kokanee trolling are bright pinks.
Because the best depths to troll for Kokanee are very deep, you will have to use some very bright colors to have the fish be able to see the lure and bite it.
The Kokanee are triggered by pinks and will attack them out of anger or irritation. Pink works especially well during times that are not the Kokanee’s feeding times. Other good colors are oranges, reds, and some light purples. The warm colors are the way to go with Kokanee.
On the back of the hoochie’s hook, put one kernel of white shoepeg that was soaked in garlic the night before. The smell that the garlic will give the corm will introduce a new smell to the Kokanee Salmon, and that will irritate them into biting.
A dodger is a piece of metal that attracts fish towards the hooks trailing behind. The dodgers reflect light at the fish and acts as the scales of a fish swimming in the water.
Some dodgers can be bent to give them the action that makes them sway in the water. If there are three lines out in the water with dodgers, all followed by hooks and lures, those will look like a school of fish and the Kokanee salmon will most likely strike out of annoyance.
These are about the same as the dodgers except they are much smaller and they spin around much more erratic. The purpose of the flashers is to get reflect more sunlight in a wider range of area. The flashers will act as small baitfish swimming in the water. This artificial school of fish will be targeted by the Kokanee Salmon and the stragglers of the school, the hooks, and lures will be bit first.
Usually only found on spinner lures and spinner baits, spinner blades act as an action giver to a hook. They spin around the hook, reflecting light and creating a disturbance in the water. The fish will pick up on the disturbances and will come from pretty far away towards the lure.
The reflection is to attract closer fish to strike, and it works very well. A spinner blade can be attached to a hoochie, which will give it that extra advantage in the deeper waters where the Kokanee live.
Extra Tips for Trolling for Kokanee
Trolling is an art, and every art meduim has things that can be done to make the final product look better or be easier to accomplish.
- Buy a Rubber Snubber: A Rubber Snubber is a piece of rubber that is attached between the leader and the line before the dodger and the hook. This helps keep a lot of tension out of the Kokanee’s mouth.
- Soft Mouths: Kokanee have very soft mouths, so sometimes the hook can be set too violent and the hook can be ripped out of the fish’s mouth. The Rubber Snubber will help keep that set gentle enough not to rip it out.
- Buy a long net: Because of the Kokanee’s soft mouths, it is hard to get one in the boat by lifting it out of the water. A long net will help get the fish out of the water safely and to not get off the hook.
How fast should you troll for Kokanee Salmon? Around 0.8 MPH up to 1.5 MPH. There are some fishermen who have found luck at 2 MPH, but I have not seen much luck going that fast.
What times of year can Kokanee be caught? Kokanee can be caught year round. Trolling is best around mid summer and early autumn, while jigging is better during the winter while ice fishing, and during early spring.