What are the Top 5 California kokanee salmon lakes to keep an eye on in 2008? It’s an interesting question considering the Golden State is home to many excellent koke waters.
To get the skinny on which lakes should fish best in the upcoming season, I recently talked with light tackle trolling expert and all-around kokanee salmon guru, Sep Hendrickson of Sep’s Pro Fishing.
1. Lake Berryessa
Thanks to a good mix of food supply and number of fish planted, Lake Berryessa has been steadily emerging as California’s premier kokanee lake over the past several seasons. It also doesn’t get drawn down as low as many other reservoirs in the state, which means the food sources in the lake are able to flourish.
“Simply put, it’s designed for cranking out plankton,” says Sep.
What this all means is Lake Berryessa should once again be home to big schools of jumbo kokes this season. Fish in the 18-inch class are common and landlocked sockeyes to 20 plus inches are not out of the question.
2. Whiskeytown Lake
This small reservoir just west of Redding has been pumping out some gorilla kokanee in recent years and Sep says 2008 shouldn’t be much different.
“I think the kokes will be anywhere from 16 to 18 inches,” he says. “And you could get a 20 there if you’re lucky.”
While most of the big fish are taken at Whiskeytown late in the season, there’s also a short window in April and May when some hawgs are landed.
3. New Melones Reservoir
Berryessa and Whiskeytown may be the two best places to hook big salmon, but New Melones is the spot for both quantity and quality. The lake is absolutely loaded with kokanee – nice ones, too.
“They should average 15 to 17 inches this year,” Sep says. “But 20 inchers are possible.”
Like Whiskeytown, Melones gets a shot of large fish early in the spring and then the big boys kinda lay low until August.
4. Don Pedro Reservoir
Don Pedro’s the Wild Card in this group. If the lake is allowed to fill up slowly and water is held late into the summer, the fishing could be outstanding. It’s got a reputation for producing braggin-sized kokanee as well as good numbers of smaller fish when conditions are right.
“How Pedro fishes is going to depends on how the water is managed,” says Sep.
5. Bullards Bar Reservoir
Of course, if quantity is what you seek, there’s no better place in the state than Bullards Bar.
For decades, Bullards has been synonymous with lots of fish and easy fishing. The only drawback has always been that the average size of the kokes there is small. Well, that all changed back in 2007 and Sep expects good things again this season.
“They stopped planting so many fish in the lake and now the average size has come way up,” he says. “Guys last year were getting salmon to 16 inches at Bullards.”
Do you have any favorite California Kokanee lakes? Let us know in the comments section below!
California’s 5 Best Fishing Lakes