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Written By: Cal Kellogg, May 25, 2014
Location: Lake Oroville,
Captain Rick Kennedy of Tight Lines Guide Service, Fish Sniffer Publisher Paul Kneeland and I headed over to Lake Oroville on May 9. Our plan was to spend a half-day prospecting for landlocked king salmon. We’d gotten some good reports from master troller Mike Tripp and were anxious to sample the action ourselves.
Whenever you head out on a prospecting trip, you’re rolling the dice. You might find good action, you might find fair fishing or you might get skunked. As we slid Rick’s big Rogue Chinook into the water just after daybreak my mind swirled with excitement, doubt and expectation.
Could we find the kings? Would they bite and if they did how big would they be? Some folks had reported that the fish averaged 14 to 15 inches while others had talked about salmon ranging up to an impressive 23 inches.
I’d like to report that we got into kings immediately after launching, but that’s not the way things went down. During the first hour, little happened. We had a couple rods out armed with Ex-Cel Spoons, one rigged with a Gulp! minnow working behind a large white dodgers and a rigged shad rolling just beneath the surface 200 feet behind the boat.
During the second hour we had a couple missed strike and lost a hooked fish before Paul Kneeland put the first salmon of the day into the box. The fish measured 17 inches and inhaled a Gulp! minnow rigged behind a large white blade.
Paul had landed his fish in an area near the dam. Since we were prospecting we didn’t circle back on the newly found honey hole. Instead we kept trolling trying to figure out how large the concentration of fish was. When another hour of trolling failed to produce any more action we headed back to the area that had produced the most strikes.
Almost immediately the rod sporting the Gulp! minnow got slammed. I grabbed the rod and felt the power of the fish. The salmon was hot and I was determined not to lose it. I backed off the Abu Garcia’s drag a bit and allowed the spring of the Berkley rod drain the salmon’s energy.
Once I’d worked the fish within 40 feet of the boat it gave up it’s strategy of hard runs and head shaking and decided to put on an aerial display. When landlocked kings start jumping they have a knack for tossing hooks and I was determined to keep that from happening. After the first jump I stuck the rod tip down into the water and worked the reel. Line smoked off the reel and the fish surged toward the surface several times, but the angle of the submerged rod kept the fish below the surface.
After a few tense minutes, I worked the fish within range of Rick’s long net and he scooped my prize aboard. The big king was beautiful and chrome bright with a thick robust body. After taking a few photos, we laid the fish next to Rick’s ruler. It measured just over 20 inches!
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