8 AM - 3 PM (PST) Mon-Fri
8 AM - 3 PM (PST) Mon-Fri
By Mack's Lure Pro Staff, Danny Coyne
Many of you have been asking what we have been using to successfully target Kokanee through the ice in British Columbia, so today I’m going to take you through the basic tackle we are using to get on these fish.
One thing you need to know before going out ice fishing for Kokanee fishing is that they are not found in the same part of the lake as rainbow trout, meaning they are not out in the shallows or hanging out near drop-off ledges. Instead, Kokanee is found suspended in deeper water, typically between 50- and 150-feet deep.
Why are they in this deeper water, you ask? The reason for this is that the primary food source for Kokanee is plankton, which takes them out to the deeper water. With Kokanee being found so deep, we need to attract them into our gear — and we do that by using an attractor such as a dodger.
My favorite attractor I use when jigging for Kokanee through the Mack's Lure Sling Blade Original Dodger, which is what I use for open water Kokanee, as well. I prefer the Sling Blade 4” dodger, though I do use the Sling Blade 6” quite often, as well. The 4” version of the dodger, however, really gives enough flash and action to attract Kokanee into your ice fishing gear.
It’s important to remember to bring a variety of dodger colors with you when you’re ice fishing for Kokanee. Depending on the light of the day, you may need to adjust your flash for desired results.
The Mack’s Lure’s Sling Blade UV series is excellent and, in my opinion, one of the best all-around dodgers for Kokanee fishing through the ice in low-light conditions, especially in the mornings. The red provides a darker contrast to the water and, when combined with the glow from the UV tape, makes this a very effective presentation for Kokanee.
When preparing to fish with Sling Blade dodger, I press a small bend into the blade so it will give a bit of action when I pull my line up. Be sure to bend with the cupped side down (and the decal on the outside of the bend). By doing this, it allows my dodger to swing up, then drop back down.
When it comes to ice fishing, smaller lures are typically better. Mack’s Lure offers several lure options that, when combined with a Sling Blade, produce excellent results for Kokanee through the ice.
I mainly use the Mack’s Lure Glo Hooks Red Hook Series when I am fishing for Kokanee with a dodger.
The Glo Hooks are incredible because they will glow for up to 20-30 minutes underwater when charged by placing a UV light or the flash on your phone on the Glo material for 10 to 20 seconds. It’s good practice to pull your gear up and check your bait, then recharge your Glo Hooks every 15 minutes.
When lake fishing for Kokanee through the ice, I use three Glo Hook Red Hook Series colors: white, cerise, and chartreuse. Recently, the most productive lure has been the cerise, however on darker days, Kokanee tends to like the chartreuse and white supercharged Glo Hooks.
When you are running Glo Hooks in your vertical presentation, run shorter leaders, anywhere between 12” to 14” with some split shot between the hook and the leader. Kokanee is not leader shy, and they're not going to be scared away from your attractor. The closer you get your attractor to your lure, the more action your presentation is going to get when you are jigging it.
On the more aggressive days when the Kokanee are really on the bite, I like to run a smaller jig like the Mack’s Lure Hum Dinger 1/8 oz., which has excellent flash and is also available in several high UV options.
When you jig this lure up, it will slant a little horizontally, then flutter down. This is an awesome lure to use when the fish are scattered, as well as when they’re really attacking. Again, use a smaller leader, between 14” to 18” or so.
Mack’s Lure recently released the Ice Rig Value Pack, which combines the Sling Blade 4” with the Glo Hooks and Hum Dinger to create the ultimate ice fishing rig for Kokanee, trout and more. Available in six rigging options, you’re sure to find a rig combination that works for you.
Another lure that I find excellent for Kokanee fishing through the ice is the Sonic BaitFish. This lure is, by far, one of my most effective ice fishing lures. It’s available in several sizes, including 1/16 oz., 1/10 oz. and 1/6 oz., which is a great starting point when ice fishing for Kokanee. I typically stick with the 1/10 oz., then run a small Glo Hook trailer hook off of one of the three attachment points. Kokanee will not be able to resist this setup.
When you’re jigging, and the fish are scattered, you don’t have to fish beneath the hole. Instead, you’ll want to do a 1- to 2-ft. sweep up, then drop your gear back down. The reason for doing this is that when the gear comes up aggressively, then drops back down aggressively, it really creates the attraction of flash and displacement. Once the fish start to be drawn in to your presentation, take more of a yo-yo effect — consistent up-down.
To get the bite, you just want to keep going — pull it up, stop, then down, and repeat. A lot of the time, you will get hit when the action stops or when you go to pull it back up.
We hope these tips help you on the ice this winter. For more information from Danny, visit BCFishn.com and follow him on social media at @BCFishn on all platforms.