Paul Lake is best known for its hiking trails its huge rock bluff and scenic viewpoints. Now stocked with kokanee, Paul Lake's kokanee fishing is quickly growing in popularity. Learn more about Paul Lake here.
June 30, 2023
This morning I had a decision to make: go fishing, or stay home and prepare for tomorrow's farmers market?
If you know me, you can probably guess which option I chose. The weather looked too great to pass up, and I woke up at 5:30 a.m. which gave me plenty of time to enjoy coffee with my wife and still get an early start fishing. Fishing it is!
I packed up the little 10' aluminum and headed to Paul Lake. I arrived at the west end of the lake around 8 a.m.
I headed out through the shallows and went a little past the drop off on the west end over 60 feet of water. I was marking several fish throughout the water column with most being near the bottom. I set my bow mount to anchor mode and sent down my 4 inch brass and copper wobbler with 14 inches of leader to a chrome and red ribbed tungsten weighted chironomid.
I dangled the chironomid near the bottom while I set up my trolling rods and clamped on the downriggers. Not once but twice my rod bent over while I was setting up. Two rainbows were caught and released in the first 10 minutes of fishing!
I began trolling at 35 feet because it seemed that the main concentrations of fish were between 25 to 40 feet, or right near the bottom. I trolled at 1.3 mph and headed towards the bluff starting at the west end. It was one of those days where the action was steady! By the time I got half way to the bluff I had caught three kokanee and lost two. This made for very busy but fun fishing. The micro smile hoochie was working good and so was the pink and purple spin n glo. That being said, I think most kokanee lures would have worked well, given how active the fish were today. I spun the boat around and headed back towards the west end, this time only trolling one rod. Right after turning the boat around I caught one and lost one.
I now had four kokanee in the boat so I put my trolling gear away and pulled out the jigging rod. I set up over 70 feet of water and I was marking lots of fish. The chironomids were a hit again: I was lowering it to 30 feet and at 25 feet it stopped falling because a fish took it! Up came kokanee number five and it was the biggest of the day weighing in at 1.4 lbs! One of the bigger ones I have caught out of Paul Lake. It was only 9:30 and I wasn't quite ready to head home so I moved closer to where I was catching the rainbows and gave it another try. When the chironomid neared the bottom I jigged it a few times and as I slowly raised it I had another fish on! This time it was a kokanee. Fortunately I was using a barbless hook so I was able to give the fish some slack and pop the hook without netting or touching it.
The next fish was a nice rainbow. I had a real scare while taking a quick pic of this rainbow while it was still in the water. Just this morning I was reading an update about the tragic situation with the boaters at Stump Lake. These types of events always make me wonder what could have gone wrong. But today I learned just how quickly things can go badly. While I was attempting to release the rainbow I leaned to one side of the little boat. I had a 12v deep cycle battery for my electric motor that was acting as a counter balance. Without warning, the battery slid towards me as I was leaning over, suddenly and significantly shifting the weight balance in the boat. I thought I was going over. The top edge of my boat was about 2 inches from the waterline. I am not sure how far a small aluminum can lean before it will tip over but I think I pushed its limits today. Thankfully I stayed upright. Stay safe out there, everyone.
I took a minute to regain my composure and rebalance the boat then went back to fishing. I quickly got into another fish near the bottom but it was another kokanee and again was able to release it without handling it. I decided to quit fishing since I was catching more kokanee than rainbows on the chironomid and I don't like to catch and release kokanee since they often don't handle catch and release well. I do think that releases are very successful if you don't have to handle the kokanee, but even a barbless hook doesn't guarantee that you will be able to release the fish without handling it.
Rod one: a Chrome's pink and chrome bendable dodger with 14 inches of leader to a Chrome's orange micro smile hoochie.
Rod two: a Chrome's pink and chrome bendable dodger with 14 inches of leader to a Chrome's pink and purple spin n glo
The bait: Scented shoepeg corn
A busy but great day. I kept five kokanee and was able to release two kokanee without handling them. The three rainbows were released.
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May 25, 2023
The weather forecast for Paul Lake looked good today. I like to take these opportunities to get out in my little 10' aluminum boat.
I have only been out to Paul once since ice off, and I wasn't able to catch any kokanee that day. Today was much different!
I launched my boat on the west end of the lake. The water was quite high and the bollards blocking the launch area were still in place. It's easy enough to get a small boat around them, but not a trailer.
There were several fish jumping at the west end and I was marking lots at 15 feet deep. I geared up with Chrome's pink bendable dodgers with 14 inches of leader. I had a Chrome's pink wiggle hoochie on one rod and a Chrome's orange and pink smile spinner on the other.
I started fishing the west end, 15 feet down in 50ish feet of water. Things got very busy! Often one rod was bouncing while I was trying to put the line out on the other. Up and down with the hand crank downriggers and sometimes fish were taking the line before I could clip it to the downrigger. The west end had lots of trout. In short order I had caught and released five rainbows while losing three other fish.
My next move was to venture away from the west end where all the fish were jumping because I figured the majority were trout. I trolled toward the bluff and caught two more rainbows on the way. When I got about 200 to 300 yards west of the bluff I started marking fish at 20 feet fairly consistently on the northern side of the lake. I lowered the downriggers to 20 feet and things got very busy again! Both the wiggle hoochie and the smile spinner worked very well with the edge given to the smile spinner but only because I was running the wiggle hoochie bait-less. In about 45 minutes I put five kokanee in the boat and released two more rainbows. The day ended with a double header! Unfortunately, I already had four kokanee in the boat so I had to release one of the kokanee from the double header to stay within my limit. What a day! Sixty foot setbacks and speeds from .8 to 1.4 mph was working well!
Rod one: a Chrome's pink and green bendable dodger with 14 inches of leader to a Chrome's pink and orange smile spinner
Rod two: a Chrome's pink and chrome bendable dodger with 14 inches of leader to a Chrome's pink wiggle hoochie
The bait: Scented shoepeg corn
A busy day on the hand crank downriggers, ending with a double header!
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April 26, 2023
I was happy to see the ice off today! Hopefully the fishing will pick up soon. I marked fish mostly towards the west end but I couldn't entice them today.
March 17, 2023
Another late season fishing day, and what a day it was. The west end of Paul Lake was absolutely on fire!
I parked at the west end and pulled my gear out to where the water was 65 feet deep (see the picture for my location). There was already an angler near this spot and he said the fishing was ridiculous! That couldn't have been more true!
I began setting up my gear and the second I powered on the fish finder I was marking fish at 60 feet. I stopped setting up and quickly sent down a 2" pink buzz bomb. I got the buzz bomb down to the fish and two jigs later I caught my first healthy-looking chromer. I sent the buzz bomb back down and two more jigs put fish number two on the ice!
I always bring four rods with different lure set ups so I grabbed a rod equipped with a new flasher I had made and a pink and chartreuse tungsten fly and gave it a try.
As I approached the fish that were marking at 60 feet one of them hammered the fly while I was still lowering it. I hadn't even set up my underwater camera yet and I had three kokanee on the ice in three minutes! UNREAL! I decided to take a couple minutes to get my camera down so I could watch the action. This time I grabbed a rod that with a copper and brass flasher with a size 10 pink and white glow jig. I didn't even bother baiting the hook. I sent the gear down as a much larger school of fish showed up on the finder spanning from 30 feet down to 60 feet. When the jig came into view on my camera there were four kokanee following it down. I paused to slowly pull the jig up and bam! Fish number four on the ice. Next I sent down a 1.5" swim jig that I had used at Stump Lake a few days earlier with a small piece of meal worm. You guessed it: the limit fish took the bait!
My limit of fish was on the ice in only 8 minutes! And that includes the time it took to set up my underwater camera. I have had plenty of good days out ice fishing, but today topped them all in terms of quick limits.
I wasn't ready to pack up so soon so I spent some time jigging a hook-less spoon in front of the camera. It was so fun!!! They hit the spoon over and over and over! I am quite sure that most types of kokanee jigs would have caught fish today! The water clarity was next to perfect, I could easily see my lures on the camera at 60 feet almost as if they were right in front of me. There was still about 12 inches of good ice!
The set up: a chrome and brass 4 inch wobbler with 12 inches of leader to a pink tungsten jig
Second: A pink two inch buzz bomb.
I believe the kokanee would have taken any jig today!
Five kokanee in 8 minutes!!! UNREAL!!!
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