Kokanee Derby Tactics

Kids win at Kokanee Power Derbies

Many are intimidated by the thought of trying their hand at derby fishing. I can see being intimidated after watching some of the big bass tournaments on TV, but to be quite honest, kokanee derby fishing is completely different in that there is no real pressure, no glaring TV cameras, no must qualify and many other perceptions that one might have after watching TV.

The weigh-in at Green Peter

The simple truth is that we are a bunch of ordinary guys and gals out there to have fun while at the same time giving back to support our inland fisheries. There are a few old timers that seem to be consistently in the top finishers but to be quite honest there are not a lot of tricks that put them there; just a few simple techniques which you can develop for your own use through trial and error.


Rules for success:

  • The more the merrier. The more people you have in your boat, the more your chances of landing the biggest and the most. Take advantage of the two rod rule and multiply your chances. It is a great family sport and since it is a team sport get everyone in the family involved! There is one family from over by Madras that has consistently been in the high numbers and it is not just because they have been doing it for a while, it is because they all do it for fun! More rods means more lures in the water, more colors in your array of presentations and more fish in the boat once you get it dialed in!
  • Prospect for fish. The weigh in is only five fish per team. That means that on a lake that allows up to twenty five fish per person, that you catch enough fish to get on board (kind of like in a card game), then you start looking for the big ones. Simply put, catch your five fish then start cruising and looking for the big one…
  • Run and array of different colors and depths. I run as many colors starting out as I have rods on the boat. Take advantage of UV and GLOW lures and beads. Most of all, fish multiple depths while watching the fish finder for that large school of biters. Stack your rods on the down riggers. I like to use shower rings and a weight with a release clip which allows me to adjust the distance (depth) between my presentations. Keep your setback long when shallow and short when deep. When fishing deep keep the setback down to five feet or less.
  • When you find the fish and they are biting at a specific depth, adjust your presentations to be within ten feet either way, up or down or right on the money.
  • If a specific color is working, use it! Use it until the fickle biters quit biting; then go back to the large color array.
  • Don’t gut or bleed your fish. The weigh in is sometimes won by a fraction of an ounce; Bleeding or gutting may take away your chances of fame and fortune! Instead, create a slurry by mixing ice with water so the fish will retain their original weight or close to it.
  • Use a digital scale when you get back to the weigh in. Remember, fractions of ounces are very important and can win the derby!
  • Pay attention to the light. If it is bright, the fish will hold deeper. If it is overcast, the fish will be shallower. If there is smooth water and it is bright, look deep. If it is overcast and there is wind chop, come up ten feet from where you were last successful.
  • If you are more experienced with downriggers and would like to try a new technique, try tomahawking the points. If you have been fishing for long, you know that fish will hang on structure such as steep ledges. The catch is that these fish are hard to target when trolling. You will notice that I said hard, not impossible! If you have an auto pilot, you can easily accomplish this by letting the auto pilot run the boat if not, you need one person running the boat and one running the downriggers.
    After locating some larger fish holding on a steep drop off, turn around and go back over the location with your weights about four or five feet over the top of the ridge. As you cross the top of the ridge, drop your weights while watching the depth finder so you can maintain some distance from the bottom. Try and keep your weights a consistent distance off the bottom so you go right through the fish holding on the drop off.

Getting on Board at the Derby

Most of all, have fun; this is a family event and grinching and grumbling are out of place. Stay for the BBQ and talk to the other fishermen and women. You will learn a lot of tricks that you otherwise would not have had a chance to learn. It takes a village to teach the art of catching these fish and this is a good opportunity to get over the learning hump.

Sign up for the derby this weekend at Green Peter!

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About Kent Cannon

My passion is fishing and hunting as well as traveling throughout the Northwest and writing about those adventures. I was separated from my job a few years ago due to the still ongoing economic downturn. I had spent years working, focusing on things that really were not near and dear to my heart all the while scrambling and climbing to what I perceived as the top. I of course did not realize what I was doing, because I was caught up in the moment, focusing on what I thought was the American dream. Crashing and pushing ever forward like a Lemming headed for a cliff, oblivious the world around me. I was more than a little bitter over loosing my job; it was a good job as far as jobs go and I was making a lot of money so I could live according to the manner in which I wanted to be accustomed. In the process of trying to find another job in an unfavorable economic climate I found something that I had left behind many years ago. I found me! That is how and why I started this website, looking for myself and sharing things that I found along the way. Even though I am older now, suffering a little from arthritis and my hair is now somewhat graying I still have fire in my belly for the next adventure. The more that I seek out my next adventure, the more excited I become!

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