Paska Lake is very new to the kokanee fishery, with the first kokanee stocked in 2017. Previously, Paska Lake was home to only small rainbow trout. The kokanee can be hard to catch with the small aggressive rainbows biting often.
November 22, 2022
This is quite possibly the earliest in the ice fishing season that I have ever fished for kokanee through the ice.
I arrived at Paska Lake around 9:30 a.m. With the gate to the campsites closed the parking is limited to non-existent, so I had to pull my truck to the side of the road and up on a snowbank.
If you park on the side of the road and go around or under the gate, be aware of the cattle guard that is immediately past the gate. It can be hidden by snow and could cause a painful situation should one or both of your legs slip between the bars. From here it is about a 5 minute walk down to the lake and a 20 minute slog on the way back while pulling your gear up the trail. I recommend packing light. I was pleased to find 7 inches of ice when I drilled my first test hole just offshore. I was not 100% confident that the ice would stay consistent so I wore my PFD and carried ice picks as I ventured out over deeper water. I set up about 150 feet offshore in front of the campsites in 24 feet of water and was fishing by 10 a.m.
There were several fish marking on the fish finder and several rainbow trout hitting my pink tungsten jig. By 12:30 p.m. I had caught several rainbows at all depths with the majority near the bottom and had only seen trout on the underwater camera. I decided it was time for a move.
I ventured out to about 400 feet offshore in front of the campsites and set up over 28 feet of water. I was back to fishing by 1 p.m.
Again I was marking most of the fish near the bottom and was only seeing and catching small rainbows. At 1:30 p.m. I pulled my line and my camera up to 10 feet and decided that I would pack up at 1:45 p.m. if I didn't find any kokanee.
Just one minute before I was about to leave I finally saw a kokanee! It turns out they were swimming shallow- I had tried fishing shallow earlier in the day but I guess I didn't try long enough. He slowly swam in and took my slow-moving jig with no hesitation! I quickly got my gear back down and saw another kokanee. I jigged my flasher up and let it free fall. This spooked the kokanee and it took off immediately. Normally this doesn't happen but today it happened twice. I slowed down my jigging when the next two kokanee came in and this seemed to intrigue them and entice the bite! By 2:45 p.m. I had put four kokanee on the ice and lost two others. I lost count of how many rainbows I caught throughout the day and at times I was actively pulling my jig away from them when they went to bite.
Rod one: A Gibbs 3.5 inch chrome flasher 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.
Tons of rainbows caught and released, and then finally four chrome kokanee
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July 25, 2022
Until today I had only caught one small kokanee out of Paska Lake. I was hoping that my luck would change... and it did!
I arrived at the lake around 9:30 a.m. and was all set up for fishing by 10 a.m. I began scanning around a bit and the fish were marking and jumping everywhere. This is likely because Paska has a large quantity of small rainbows.
I geared up with a Chrome's pink and chrome dodger and a Chrome's pink and chrome single spinner. I tipped it with shoepeg corn and Berkley's pink maggots. I used a 70 foot setback and lowered my gear to 15 feet with the downrigger. It didn't take too long to land some fish. I caught three rainbows quick and lost a couple others that I never got to see. As I was trolling I noticed that there were several marks on the fish finder that were following my downrigger ball and release clip. I found this interesting because I was only at 15 feet in depth and the fish were not scared of the boat. I rigged up my second rod with an orange and chrome dodger with 14 inches of leader to a Chrome's orange micro hoochie with a chartreuse smile blade. I then used a short 4-foot setback since the fish were following my downrigger ball and lowered it to 15 feet. Less than a minute later the rod with the short setback hooked into my first kokanee of the day.
I changed the spinner on my first rod to a Chrome's orange micro hoochie with a pink smile blade and ran it with a 4-foot setback at 17 feet deep. It is a lot faster to reset your lines when you're using such a short setback! The micro smile hoochies were the right lure today. I crimped the barbs on both lures because I figured I would be releasing several rainbows. Once I was running them on both rods the action was almost non-stop. I caught my limit of kokanee by 12:30 p.m. and had released 14 rainbow trout!
I put my 5th kokanee in the cooler and went to reel in my second rod after a successful day. But before I could get to it, the rod was bobbing up and down with a 6th kokanee that I had to release. I don't normally release kokanee because they often don't fare well, but in this case I didn't have a choice. I held the fish in the water to revive it and just as it kicked its tail to swim away a loon dashed out from under the boat and grabbed the kokanee out of my hand. I can't say that has ever happened to me before. The snapping beak that surfaced out of nowhere scared the bejesus out me lol.
On a side note, Paska Lake only reaches depths of just over 30 feet and has many shallow areas so you need to be aware of that when you are running downriggers.
Short setbacks and non-stop action! Five kokanee kept and one for the loon.
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FEBruary 4, 2022
I wasn't feeling well and didn't want to interact with other anglers and chance making them sick so I decided to go try a lake that is fished much less than most. I have to be feeling really lousy before I don't feel like fishing.
Paska Lake has been on my radar for some time. It has been stocked with triploid kokanee starting in 2017.
I arrived around 9 a.m. and began the trek from the road down through the campsites and to the lake. This was much easier than the return trip that involved dragging the sled uphill and stopping a few times to catch my breath.
I set up about 75 feet off shore in front of the campsites where the water is 25 feet deep. My first observation was how thick the daphnia were in the top 8 feet of water. Before I could get my line in the water I was already seeing kokanee on the underwater camera only 5 feet down. This was very exciting because I have not definitively seen kokanee in Paska Lake before this.
I first tried a 3.5 inch ice flasher with 12 inches of leader to a small pink glow jig with a pink real maggot. I found that the kokanee were often interested when my gear was free falling but as soon as I jigged back up they would swim away. On occasion when the kokanee got close the flash of the flasher seemed to spook them.
It seemed as though I could generate the most interest using long 5 foot slow jigs, with the kokanee's curiosity peaking as the spoon fluttered down. I had many swim towards the spoon as it was falling but would swim off when it stopped.
I tried several different baits but all had the same results. I changed my set up to a small pink spoon with shoepeg corn and I managed to entice one kokanee to take the offering.
Throughout the day I caught several small rainbow trout that were much more eager to take the bait. The kokanee were all in the top 10 feet of water with the majority at 5 feet.
Jigging 5 to 10 feet deep using long slow jigs.
The set up: a small pink spoon tipped with shoepeg corn scented with anise oil and Pautzke nectar.
Kokanee in Paska Lake!!! This is the first time I've caught kokanee out of Paska Lake.
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