Quality Kokanee at Whiskeytown

Whiskeytown Reservoir - Whiskeytown, CA (Shasta County)

Kokanee Salmon
Sep's on the downrigger got this fatty
Photo Credit: Scott Caldwell

by Scott Caldwell

If you have ever taken highway 299 to the coast you pass right over a little nugget of water called Whiskeytown reservoir. While driving across the 299 bridge you may have noticed boats under and around the bridge. They are fishing for a tasty little fish called Kokanee. 

Kokanee are the fresh water version of Sockeye (Red) Salmon. They feed mostly on plankton in open cold water near the surface and down deeper when the surface warms during the summer. Kokanee live a fresh water version of their ocean relatives, heading up rivers or streams to spawn and die. They live 3 to 7 years but do not grow to huge sizes. Most range in size from 8 to 17 inches with some reaching the 20 inch class. The world record is over 9 pounds but the common size is 1 to 3 pounds. 

Whiskeytown reservoir boast a very healthy population of Kokanee. These great tasting fresh water Salmon have been on the bite since mid April and are very fat. We have been landing fish that are mostly 1.5 to 2.5 pounds with a few getting very close to 3 pounds. They are hard fighting silver bullets that often break the surface and put on magnificent aerial display.

Their hard fighting nature does lend itself to many spitting the hook. A 50% land ratio is a good day. Trolling is the best method for hooking up these frisky fish. A Sep's Dodger with a pink or orange hootchy skirt spinner tipped with garlic flavored corn has been the best set up for me and my clients. The Kokanee have been scattered all over the reservoir and in the water column.

The last couple times out and most recently last week, we caught fish as shallow as 15 feet and as deep as 45 feet. The fish do seem to be hanging in water that is at least 75 feet deep or more but their has not been anyone spot that has been best. The limit is 5 per person and with a little more work and a little luck limits are typically the norm. 

Kokanee fishing at Whiskeytown reservoir will continue all summer until the fish head to their spawning grounds . I will be offering trips for these yummy little fish all summer. I can contacted at 530 905 0758 or go online at caldwellfishing.com to book your trip. You can also contact by email at Scott@caldwellfishing.com 

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