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Written By: Cal Kellogg, August 18, 2014
Location: Berryessa Reservoir,
Kokanee fishing is something I had never done, and, when I made my bucket list a few years ago I put this fish on my list. As a fishaholic I needed to catch a kokanee. I had just scratched off a keeper sturgeon earlier this year, so I started looking up guides for kokanee and asking around.
I also started research on the internet (what a great tool, wish I had this back when I was a lot younger) were the best lakes that offered kokanee fishing. It looked like Lake Berryessa had plenty of kokanee, and they run on the bigger size compared to some of the other lakes in California.
So I chose Lake Berryessa, now it was time to pick out a guide. I chose T-Roy’s Guide Service. He has 30 plus years of fishing experience on Lake Berryessa. He supplies everything, and all you need to bring is your license, sunscreen, food and drinks.
I gave him a call at the beginning of June and we talked about the Kokanee fishing at Lake Berryessa. Troy said he had been doing great and expected it to get even better as the month went on. I picked a Tuesday towards the end of the month since there would not be much of a moon and that is usually a better day for my dad to come along.
Also weekdays help you avoid the weekend crowds. My dad said he had never fished for kokanee either so this was going to be a first for both of us.
Since it is almost a 3-hour drive from my dad’s house and Troy wanted to get on the water early, we decided to meet at Markley Cove at 5:45. So I picked dad up at 2:30 in the morning and we were off.
We got to the lake at 5 but somehow we did not see the sign on the building that said Markley Cove so we kept driving. I told Dad to pull over after a while and asked him to look at the map. I thought we had somehow passed it since it showed the cove not far from the dam.
Sure enough, we turned around, drove back. Just before we got to the dam we saw a big grey building marked Markley Cove, not sure how we missed it the first time, but we did. Dad pulled in the parking lot and sure enough Troy had just pulled in.
He got them to open the gate early and we followed him in and parked the car by the first launch ramp. Dad and I jumped in the boat since we had to launch at the second launch ramp due to water being let out of the lake. Within a few minutes we were heading out of the cove and to the fishing grounds.
Troy said last week he had been doing well along the shoreline between the cabin and 75’ of water just south of the vineyard. So we started out trolling just north of the cabin. Troy put out 4 poles with a different lure or a little hoochie on each of them. He added scent to the flashers and his special soaked corn for the lures.
Troy was marking fish but nothing would bite. As we continued to troll closer to the vineyard we still had not even got a tap. Troy kept changing lures and flashers hoping that something would work.
He called his friend who launched right after us, and is also a guide, but he said he didn’t have anything either. On the radio it sounded like most of the boats fishing in our area had nothing or 1-2 fish. Troy was getting very frustrated. He said this was not normal. He had been slamming them up till the day we fished.
We trolled across the lake to an island and started trolling south along it when a boat going the opposite way said he just got a double at 60’ on pink hoochies. Well we trolled along the island, turned and went back still without a bite. We started seeing a few boats pick up a fish here and there.
One of them said they got a kokanee on a copper spinner at 50’. So Troy put one on and suggested trolling back to the other side to try again. He thought that since all the boats left that side of the lake maybe they would start biting with no boat traffic.
Well, finally at 9:30 we got a bite on a pink Uncle Larry spinner in 75’ of water at 60’ down by the Big Island. Dad told me to take the rod, so I grabbed it and, boy, do these fish fight on light tackle. The kokanee jumped out of the water about 3 times, and I told Troy it reminded me of the silver salmon I caught in Alaska.
Once in the boat, Troy said that it was a 18” kokanee. Troy worked the area where we picked up our fish. The fish seemed to be in an area about 100’ long.
We would pick up a fish or two on each pass. Most of the fish came on the pink hoochie or the Uncle Larry pink spinner with Troy’s special corn. Most of the kokanee bites were very light and not aggressive at all.
We had 3 good pumpers that did pull the line off the downrigger but we only landed one of them. The other two did feel like they were good fish before coming off half way to the boat.
We quit at 11:30 with 6 nice kokanee between 16”-18” and 4 that were smaller. Since it was a tough bite, Troy said we should keep them because he did not know how long this small group of fish would keep biting.
Troy’s friend ended the day about the same time we did with only 2 fish. Most of the boats fishing in our area either had no fish or 1 to 2. Considering the tough conditions, Troy was able to put us on the fish and limit out to boot.
Troy believes the bite has slowed down because so much water has been let out of the lake. Troy commented that the lake is dropping 2”-3” a day.
If you have never fished for kokanee or would like to go again, you should give Troy a call at T-Roy Guide Service at (707) 372-7599 and head out to Lake Berryessa. According to Troy, July and August are trophy months for kokanee. And if you have kids they would love it. He has lots of room on the boat to move around and a cover on the boat to keep you out of the hot sun.
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