Cool temps, big kokes at Stampede
By: Kirby Desha for The News Messenger
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After getting cooked by the high heat while on local lakes, I just had to get up to Stampede Reservoir last week to see if the hot kokanee bite was still on. I can say unequivocally that, yes, the bite is still crazy good and the lake is producing huge fish; however, there are some caveats that must be added to that statement.

First, everyone will say that the bite there is an early one. My buddy Marc Christophel, who offers guided trips on the lake, told me the fishing starts at first light and gets tougher after the sun hits the water.

Now, since the lake is more than two hours from Lincoln, the angler has two options: Get up at 3 a.m. for the drive or go up the night before and stay in the campground. I chose the latter and stayed in the Logger Campground.

I was up at 5 and at the ramp by 5:30 and there were already two boats ahead of me.

The second piece of advice: have a good range of lures and colors in the boat. Besides the usual pink and orange, try green and purple, with or without spinners; keep switching it up during the day.

If one goes more than an hour between strikes it’s time to change it up.

My initial offerings were a green sling-blade/hootchie combo on one rod that I lowered to 50 feet; the second rod was rigged with a similar combo in pink and lowered to 40 feet. Setbacks were 50-60 feet, respectively.

Both were tipped with shoepeg corn that had been marinated in canned tuna overnight, and the final touch was a dab of Pro-Cure Bloody Tuna scent.

Trolling speed was between 1.3-1.6 mph. Within 20 minutes, the first strike came on the green combo. I boated a very healthy 15-inch fish and, a few minutes later, the same rod was hit again with a similar fish.

The third strike took a little longer, as I trolled around in front of the ramp. I moved out a little ways and the pink rod suddenly flew out of the clip and I was rewarded with another nice fish.

As the sun rose higher, the green combo went cold and I switched it to an orange setup. As sometimes happens when I change up a color, it was hit almost immediately. This time the fish was smaller and I released it without taking it out of the water.

Fish No. 5 came on the pink rig and was the best of the day. It yanked the rod out of the clip and made several crazy flying leaps before I got it into the boat. It was a solid 17-incher, bigger than any I’d caught locally. 

I continued moving around in water between 60-100 feet deep and picked up a few more dinks, which were released. I got the last keeper to fill my five-fish limit around 9:30 a.m. and headed for the ramp.

Some recreational boaters where showing up and I figured I got off the water just in time.