18 July 9 , 2021 VOL . 40 • ISS . 13
WHAT ’ S HOT continued from page 2 inches . After speaking with several anglers fishing that day , I learned that most had struggled to land between only one and four kokanee . In our boat , we had employed some new trolling techniques that helped to kick our fish total a little higher . Always one to experiment , I ’ ve been trying some new trolling methods this year . In addition to downriggers , I ’ ve been trying different ways to top line for kokanee late into the season . I ’ ve been testing a new electric rod holder called the ‘ Smart Jigger ’. It has produced 16 to 17 inch kokanee while top lining without a downrigger . The device pivots a built-in rod holder up and down while trolling . It allows the user to record a set pattern that repeats . I set one rod to stay still for about ten seconds , and then it makes a sudden pump to trigger strikes . The other rod is programmed to slowly pump the entire time . Both have caught kokanee , so the best way to assist trolling is yet be determined . It ’ s something that I ’ m going to keep experimenting with for sure . Alternatively , you can top line without the machine and manually pump the rods or leave them still . This season at Berryessa , I have caught fish without downriggers around 50 feet deep using 3 ounce snap weights . The weights were clipped 50 feet in front of my dodgers , while letting out a total of 200 feet of line . As the fish drop deeper into the water column , either longer setbacks or heavier sinkers will be needed . Top lining two rods with a total of six rods out is not a great move for beginners . Setback lengths , turns , and speeds all have to be closely monitored to keep tangles at a minimum . Be prepared to catch more fish , but you will also be dealing with more tangles as well . My next Berryessa trip took place on June 19 during Father ’ s Day weekend . This is the weekend each year that I get to subject my entire family to getting up at 2:30 am to go fishing . In this case , the super early start paid off , as the fish were biting before sunrise . After getting three in the box and losing several , they shut down until about 11:00 am . A little after noon , we switched gears in the heat and dragged the kids around the
This thick kokanee pushing 18 inches was taken on Lake Berryessa on June 18 by Jack Naves . Fish like this will continue to grow , giving us a legitimate shot at 20 inch kokanee this summer .
lake on the tube . We ended that trip with nine in the box , but once again the quality was great . We had five kokanee over sixteen inches including two seventeen-inchers . At this point , I was convinced that the twenty-incher was right around the corner . I planned to go back the following weekend . The night before my following trip , I spoke to Rich Crispi of TW Fishing Guide Service over the phone . He had great success that day , putting two limits of huge kokanee into the boat for his clients . He was able to give me some pointers , and remarked that , “ Some days , you just have to have the right combination .” The following day was June 26 , and this time it was just my daughter Grace and I . Even though we could only run four rods , I made the decision to run one of my rods as a top line on the electric ‘ Smart Jigger ’ rod holder . It paid off , but I just couldn ’ t close the deal as back-toback hookups came off . The second was one of those heartbreaking losses right at the net , and I could tell that the kokanee was at least sixteen inches if not more . Luckily it was not a derby , so the drop-to-your-knees pump-your-fistat-the-sky devastation enactment wasn ’ t necessary . We trolled on , and around 9:30 am the fish finally turned on for about 45 minutes . After the fish shut down , the final bite came at
10:48 am while I was on the phone with Rich giving him a live report . Some days the lake will deal you the infamous ‘ Berryessa Beat Down ’, and you just have to give in or grind it out . We swam in the near 80 degree waters just after noon , capping a seven fish trip . One fish was just shy of eighteen inches , with one other going over seventeen . The thick meaty fillets made for great table fare during a family barbeque the following week . During my recent trips , the fish have been holding between 45 and 65 feet deep . We have been focusing on the main lake near the Big Island , but Berryessa is a huge lake . I would expect that at some point soon the kokanee will either move further north or transition into the narrows . We typically run 4.5 inch teardrop-style dodgers at 1.6 miles-per-hour . The lures behind the dodgers have varied between Apex-style plugs to spinners . This includes the ‘ Assassin ’ Dakota-style spinner blades . For me , running these spinners with a pink blade and alternating pink and blue beads is a Berryessa standard . Early in the morning before the sun is up , I like to run the glow-belly Apex-style lures in fluorescent colors like orange or pink . Once the sun comes up , I start to dive into blues , purples , and chrome-based plugs . You have to just keep experimenting , as on some days squids or smaller Apexes will be the ticket . If you are up to the challenge , Berryessa , New Melones , or possibly Lake Shasta will be the places to try for trophy-quality kokanee the rest of this summer . If you want numbers , Bullards Bar , Boca , or Stampede will reward you with likely limits but possible launching issues . Regardless of where you will be fishing , remember to check ramp statuses the rest of this summer as dropping water levels take effect . I hope to see you out there with some twenty-inch kokanee in your coolers .
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