Monday, May 11, 2015

Kokanee Quest 2015 part 1...

I was given a book by my brother for Christmas about 20 years ago, "Trout Fishing Southern Appalachia" by Jimmy Jacobs. I treasure this book because it's obvious sentimental value but it also has a wealth of knowledge for trout fishermen and it is a sure source of ideas for unique adventures. The pages of my book are worn and there are notes that I've scribbled in sections that were about rivers I'd like to fish. One of those places is Lake Nantahala. This lake sits at 3000' foot in elevation, it is gin clear, cold and secluded. The lake is home to smallmouth bass, walleye, trout and Kokanee salmon. These salmon are what intrigue me...so much that my friend Sherill and I were on the verge of going there on a camping trip with what was called "the Polar Vortex" bearing down last January. We changed our plans at the last minute but those salmon haven't left my thoughts. Since then I have acquired more Kokanee lures, watched more YouTube videos and gained more knowledge about these unique fish. I bet you are asking yourself the same questions I did when I discovered this thrilling news. That is, "No way, that salmon live in a lake three hours from Rome Ga." It is a fact that salmon do live in Lake Nantahala, not only do they live but they breed there too. This lake is the only southern lake that has Kokanee. They were stocked in the 1960's as forage for northern pike and other predatory fish, the pike are gone but not the salmon. The Kokes actually make a spawning run into the upper Nantahala river to spawn every fall, mate and die just like their pacific brothers and sisters, the Sockeye salmon. In May, June and July they are fattening up for the spawn on plankton. I don't know of any lures that resemble plankton but they say these fish can be taken on a variety of lures and a couple of different methods. For trolling, the lures have catchy names like wedding rings and kokanee killers but simply look like an extended walleye crawler harness with tiny fluorescent tube jigs on the hooks. For suspended fish very small Kastmaster jigs can get them to bite. I have a small tackle box with all of these lures in it and in two weeks Sherill and I will satisfy our long time dream of pursuing these very rare transplants in our kayak. We will load our Jacksons with camping and fishing gear, paddle to an island, stake claim to it for a long weekend and hopefully complete "Kokanee Quest 2015". Peace