OK, I know the kings and coho are running strong in Puget Sound, and I really should be out there after them, but when WDFW upped the Merwin Lake limit to 10 a day I couldn’t pass up another trip. Plus, JoAnn had so much fun last time that she wanted to go back.
We fished Sunday and Monday. First, concerns about the lake being “over-fished” border on the ridiculous. This is a huge, 4,000 acre reservoir that is full of kokanee. Every spot we fished had marks of fish, and we fished a lot of spots.
The rig details: We ran four rods off two downriggers, stacking and staggering the depths. It was easy to find the ideal depth – 60 feet – from the preponderance of biters at that depth. The usual kokanee gear was employed – small dodgers and either wedding rings or hoochie rigs. I didn’t do much swapping of gear this trip, there was no need. The hoochies I also kept simple. Any flavor of pink was appreciated by the fish. All rigs had corn. One side I used mealworms and the other side I used dyed and cured shrimp chunks. That was an interesting experiment that I will detail below.
Sunday we were the second boat in the water, and at 6:30 am started along the shoreline just across from the boat launch, per a few hotspots noted on previous reports. Within minutes our rods were bouncing and jumping! Depths ranged from 35 to 60 feet, although as the day progressed we settled into 45, 50, 55, 60 as the ideal depths. Trolling speed was best at 1.2mph. The bite for Sunday (and Monday was a mirror image) came hot and heavy for the first two hours. So hot, in fact, that there were times I was unable to keep all the gear running, hopping from rod to rod, passing the them to JoAnn, netting them, catching a few myself – it was kokanee heaven! The fish are starting to turn and we got some that had the beginnings of hook noses, but also plenty of bright fish in the mix. By 10:15 we had 11 in the cooler, ranging from 11” to 15”, but mostly 12-14”. At that point the bite shut off, and I mean like a switch. We eventually trolled the entire length of the lake to the dam. (BTW, this takes about six hours at 1.2 mph to do) Nothing more happened and at 1pm when we decided to anchor up, take a nap, and fish the evening bite.
Refreshed, we resumed our quest for twenty fish at 4pm, and the fish were again on the bite. Not as crazy as the morning, but by 6pm we had another four fish for a total of sixteen fish for the day. Rather than pound the water until dark we decided to return to camp, have dinner, relax, and watch a movie. I have no doubt, that if we had fished to dark we would have gotten the four remaining fish for our limits.
Monday JoAnn and I arrived to an empty launch – where is everyone? Don’t they know the limit is ten, the fish are willing, and there are a ton of them?? Guess everyone has put away their kokanee gear and are salmon fishing. Well, we decided to once again hit the far shore as a starting point. And the same result occurred – a crazy circus act of rods bouncing and fish flying into the net. High point of the morning was a fish that slammed a shrimp rig at 45 feet, popping the downrigger and taking line like a coho (well, OK, a small coho). On Sunday I spoke with someone at the launch who said he had caught an 18” fish, and I was hoping this was my 18 incher. I played him with care and JoAnn did a great netting job. The fish was a hook nose and beginning to get his spawning colors – and a solid 16 inchers. Nice! Then just a short while later, as I started to bring up a rigger to replace the top set up, the bottom rod again popped the release and ran hard. This time JoAnn took the fish and skillfully brought in an almost identical, 15 inch fish. Wow, two kokanee popping downrigger clips, wild!
As Sunday, the bite totally shut off at around 10am. Our final count was nine fish, not counting a tenth fish that I attempted to hoist into the boat on my own. So call it an “old” limit for each day of fishing, and a few bonus fish besides (thank you WDFW!) .
Like I said earlier, fish marks everywhere we went. What is key is to get on the water at day break and have everything ready to fish. When the bite is over, it’s over. What a perfect last trip to Merwin Lake. JoAnn mentioned how happy I looked on the drive home. Yup!
The final fish caught times, depths and totals:
6:40 35ft - shrimp, 6:55 35 ft - shp, 7:15 35 ft – shp, 7:25 50 ft – mealworm, 7:33 60 ft – mw, 8:00 45 ft shp, 8:10 45 ft shp, 8:20 45 ft mw, 9:15 60 ft mw, 9:30 50 ft mw, 10:15 48 ft shp, 4:10pm 45 ft shp, 4:30 60 ft mw, 5:30 60 ft mw, 5:50 43 ft shp
6:28 60ft mw, 6:40 50 ft mw, 7:13 60 ft mw, 7:20 60 ft mw, 7:22 50 ft mw, 7:58 45 ft shp, 8:03 60 ft mw, 8:50 60 ft mw, 9:03 60 ft mw
24 fish, biggest 16”, next 11 14-15”, 12” 10 fish, 1 at 10 ½”, 1 at 11”. 15 caught tipped with mealworm, 9 caught tipped with shrimp (biggest fish on shrimp)
Share this report with your friends!