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PILLAR LAKE

fishing reports

Pillar Lake is best known for its hike to a unique stone pillar and  it's rainbow trout fishery. Now stocked with kokanee, Pillar Lake's kokanee fishing is quickly growing in popularity. Learn more about Pillar Lake here.

ICE REPORT

January 9, 2024

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The ice in front of the day use area was only about 1.5 inches thick. I really wanted to fish some kokanee so I headed to the north end and slid my way down the bank. The north end had about 2.5 inches of clear ice with 4 inches of punky/slushy ice on top adding extra weight to the already thin ice. This didn't satisfy me enough to venture out further. With the cold weather coming I would think there is an excellent chance that it could be good to go by the weekend.

August 10, 2023

Today I got up to the lake very early, in time to enjoy the lake while it was dead calm!

 

After my last outing on Peter Hope I apparently forgot to charge my fish finder. I found this out as I was starting out on Pillar today and my Garmin Striker 4 wouldn't turn on. It is amazing how much I have come to rely on electronics.

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Oh well- I didn't use a fish finder for my first 25 years of fishing. This would be more like old times except I still had the luxury of a self driving bow mount.

I figured the fish would be down a bit today as the surface temperature was very warm. I started out with a Chrome's pink and chrome dodger with a pink wiggle hoochie on one rod, and a Chrome's chrome and orange dodger with a Chrome's micro orange smile hoochie on the other.

I started trolling at the day use area and headed north toward the wider part of the lake. I used a 50 foot setback and went down to 25 and 30 feet. As I got close to the spot where the lake widens I got my first bite on the Chrome's orange smile hoochie at 30 feet. I put my other rod to 30 feet and did a circle of the north end of the lake. I landed two chrome kokanee, lost two others and had two bites all on the orange smile hoochie, but nothing on the pink wiggle hoochie. It then slowed for about an hour where I had no bites. I changed up the wiggle hoochie to a Chrome's Pink and purple spinner. I made one of these spinners for a friend and he calls it his "Pillar Lake special"- for good reason! After having so much success with the Chrome's orange smile hoochie earlier in the day, the Chrome's pink and purple spinner seemed irresistible. In short order, I caught three, lost three, and had a couple of bites, all on the pink and purple spinner except one bite.

My go-to 1.3 mph seemed to work well for trolling speed, but I found that I was often getting action on my inside rod on turns, so maybe slower would have worked better. I played around with my setback today and it didn't matter whether I used a 50 foot or a 5 foot setback, the fish were biting regardless. It is nice to use a short setback as it allows for tighter turns without tangles.

the Strategy

Rod one:  A Chrome and orange dodger with 14 inches of leader to a Chrome's micro orange smile hoochie.

Rod two:  A pink and chrome dodger with 14 inches of leader to a  Chrome's Pink and purple spinner

THE CATCH

The Chrome's pink and purple spinner for the win!!!

kokanee: 5
rainbows: 0

PHOTO GALLERY

click to enlarge

THE SLOW REPORT

March 29, 2023

Fishing was very slow today. I caught one small rainbow and had two bites over the course of three hours.

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I was marking fish most of the day and seeing both kokanee and rainbows on the camera but they were generally not interested. I only marked one large school of kokanee throughout the day and the rest were singles and doubles. The ice in front of the day use area was still good. Out in the middle of the lake there was about 14 inches of good ice with 2 inches of white ice on top. I drilled a hole close to shore that revealed much weaker ice, about 6 inches of good ice with 8 inches of white ice and slush on top.

 

I talked to two other anglers both of whom had caught one fish and were having the same sort of fishing experience that I had.

MaRCH 7, 2023

It has been a while since I have been to Pillar Lake, and I was excited to get out- not only for the fishing, but also for trying out my new electric ice auger! Click here for the auger review!

When I arrived there were only a few others at the lake, and the ones I talked to had not caught any fish. It didn't sound promising. 

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I decided to set up right out in front of the day use area over 45 feet of water. There was a surprising 20 inches of ice to drill through. This was perfect for testing out the electric ice auger, especially because I usually drill three ice holes in my tent. Drilling three holes through 20 inches of ice with the hand crank auger would have taken a while and left me out of breath. With the new electric auger these holes were drilled in under two minutes with little effort, with the added bonus of sending the slush under the ice by reversing the rotation.

I began marking fish right away at 35 feet. I sent the gear down and had a bite immediately on the pink tungsten jig. I thought I was going to be in for a lot of action! Sadly that was not the case. I was marking fish more often than not, and they marked from 15 feet down to the bottom. Several kokanee schools 5 to 15 strong showed up in the 15 to 30 foot range and also several singles and doubles. For 45 minutes I watched many of these fish on the camera while jigging my flasher jig combination but there was little to no interest in the jig. I changed up to a 2 inch pink buzz bomb and the odd fish finally showed some interest as many others just swam by. Over the next three hours I caught two kokanee and one rainbow, and lost four other kokanee between 10 to 35 feet. Unfortunately I seem to lose more fish on a treble hook than on a single hook. I think it is time to for some modifications to my buzz bombs. On my way out I talked to five other anglers who had each been fishing for several hours. Between them they caught a total of six kokanee and one rainbow.

the Strategy

Plan A:  A 2.5 inch williams wobbler with 12 inches of leader to a Chrome Catchers' hand-tied pink tungsten jig 

Plan B: A 2 inch pink buzz bomb tipped with scented shoepeg

THE CATCH

The pink buzz bomb was the catcher today...too bad I lost so many.

kokanee: 2
rainbows: 1

PHOTO GALLERY

click to enlarge

March 7, 2023

THE SLOW REPORT

February 8, 2023

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Pillar Lake

If I had been targeting rainbow trout this would have been a very successful day. I caught and released six rainbows that were between 20 feet down to the bottom at 55 feet.

 

Unfortunately the 7 large schools of kokanee that swam by me at 15 to 20 feet were not interested in anything I threw at them. I tried several different lures, baits, and techniques when they came in. There was only one time when one came to check out my bait but then quickly hurried back to the school. No one I talked to had caught any kokanee, but also no trout. Oh well, that's fishing! It was still a beautiful sunny day and there was 14 inches of good ice. I am sure the fishing will pick up before the ice season ends. One of the anglers I talked to said that two gentlemen that were there earlier in the day had caught five kokanee between them.

Dec 6, 2022

December 6, 2022

I have been waiting somewhat impatiently for the ice to be safe on Pillar Lake and was hoping today would be the day! I did not expect to find 8 inches of ice at the boat launch after finding only 1 inch just a week ago.

I carried my ice picks and wore my PFD anyway as I ventured out to deeper waters.

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I headed north from the boat launch and drilled test holes along the way, just in case. Today was a classic example of how easy it is to become complacent to the possibility of changing ice conditions.

 

I tested 5 different spots and the ice was consistently 8 inches. When I arrived at the location where I wanted to fish, I was surprised to find that I was standing on 3.5 inches. My previous test hole was only about 50 feet away with 8 inches of good ice. I backed off a bit and set up my tent over about 4.5 inches of ice, just north of the resort and in the middle.

I was set up over 54 feet of water and started fishing at 25 feet deep. I jigged for about 10 minutes and marked 3 fish at 45 feet deep, and no fish in the shallower water. I lowered my camera and hook to 45 feet. The fish were coming in every 5 to 10 minutes, but only 1 to 2 at a time. At exactly 10:30 I got into a nice 16.5 inch chromer. It was fairly slow fishing, but by 2 p.m. I had caught 4 rainbows and 3 kokanee. Unfortunately, I also lost 3 kokanee, one of which was larger than the others and got lost right by the hole. I would have caught several more rainbows but because I was targeting kokanee I strategically pulled my jig away from some of the rainbows.  I saw 5 other good-sized kokanee on the camera. It is nice to know that there are some big ones still in the lake!

the Strategy

Rod one:  A 2.5 inch williams wobbler with 12 inches of leader to a Chrome Catchers' hand-tied pink tungsten jig (jig can be seen in the gallery)

The bait: shoepeg corn scented with a Pautzke brine and anise oil.

THE CATCH

It was a bit slow today but I still managed to put 3 nice chromers on the ice! 

kokanee: 3
rainbows: 4

PHOTO GALLERY

click to enlarge

ICE UPDATE

November 29, 2022

I was very optimistic that I might be able to get out on Pillar Lake today. I figured worst case scenario, I could fish at nearby Joyce Lake. I saw two ice huts on the south end of the lake but when I tested the ice at the south end I found 3 inches of ice, only 1 of which was good clear ice. The ice off the main day use area was only 1 inch thick.  Off to Joyce Lake!

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October 3, 2022

It was a perfect October day. There was not even a ripple on the water when I arrived at Pillar Lake.

This time of year, red and green kokanee can be seen near the shorelines of many local lakes. I decided to go to Pillar because it is one of the three local lakes that currently contains adult triploid kokanee. About 10% of triploids spawn after four years while the rest often live a couple of years longer. Because of this, Pillar Lake will still have a large number of chrome adult kokanee.

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The first thing I saw when I arrived was a school of bright red kokanee right beside the boat launch. I always like watching the spawning fish!

I headed toward the north end of the lake and trolled along the way at 30 feet deep. I was using a pink and chrome Chrome's dodger and a Chrome's single spinner (bubble butt) on one rod and the same dodger with a pink wiggle hoochie on the other rod. The single spinner got a fish on almost immediately, and then two more bites within about 20 min. The wiggle hoochie caught one.

Most of the fish were marking between 25 to 35 feet. I switched out the wiggle hoochie for a pink micro spinner hoochie and lowered it to 30 feet and caught a nice kokanee soon after. I then changed the single spinner to another micro spinner hoochie and I became very busy- a good kind of busy! I was reeling in fish and downrigger weights with very little downtime. I hit my limit in about an hour and lost about the same amount. Most of the kokanee were about 14 inches, but one was a hog! All of the fish were caught close to 30 feet deep and at a speed of 1.2 MPH.

the Strategy

Rod one: A Chrome's pink and chrome dodger with 14 inches of leader to a micro spinner hoochie.

 

Rod two: A Chrome's pink and  chrome dodger with 14 inches of leader to a micro spinner hoochie.

THE CATCH

Lots of kokanee biting the spinner hoochies today! 

kokanee: 5
rainbows: 0

PHOTO GALLERY

click to enlarge