About a month ago, I was graciously invited to join a member of one of our local forums here, "Dodger", who had spent most of the month of August at Flaming Gorge Reservoir. He was nice enough to offer me a spot on his boat, using his finely tuned equipment to hopefully pop my koke cherry.
That's right, up until now, I'd never had the pleasure of catching a kokanee salmon (land-locked sockeye). Dodger fishes for them quite frequently, so my hopes were high.
Flaming Gorge is a huge body of water; an impoundment of the Green River and many smaller tributaries. Its claims to fame are the very large specimens of its sport fish including lake trout, kokanee salmon, rainbow trout, and brown trout. Other species include smallmouth bass, channel catfish, burbot, cutthroat, and a small population of tiger trout.
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Saturday was determined to be the best time for us to meet and we did so at Lucerne Marina, near the Wyoming border. Our plan was to troll for kokes and macks (mackinaw - lake trout) on the Wyoming side for a bit and see where the day would lead us. On the boat were Dodger, his wife, his brother, and his wife.
We ran two downriggers with two lines each, plus lead core and pop gear out the back. Somehow we only had one tangle all day with 5 lines out. Dodger knows his craft.
Though it wasn't very fast action, we did have some luck for smaller kokes, pulling in several after a couple of hours of trolling.
My first kokanee:
A couple of others from this stretch in Wyoming (my first time fishing outside of Utah):
Faces blurred to protect the GUILTY (by request).
Face and sweatshirt blurred to protect the Ute fan on this Cougar boat.
Here's a very small lake trout, caught by Dodger's brother.
Ominous storm clouds eventually moved in and cued us to cruise back to the Utah side for shelter in Hideaway Canyon. What an awesome place!
For the next couple of hours, we caught some rain, but every once in awhile we got to reel in some kokanee and a couple of planter rainbows. Eventually, we found our way back to Sheep Creek, where the red rocks provide a fantastic backdrop for our trolling.
Mimicking the landscape, the last kokanee of the day appeared, dressed in red.
We also tried trolling deep for macks for a little while, but nothing came of that. I'll have to add that notch to my belt some other time.
It was a lot of fun to get out and try fishing a different way than I'm accustomed to, and with good people.
Leaving the park, several pronghorn antelope were gnawing away at the manicured lawn by the forest service office.
The drive home took three hours, but that's not beyond my day trip threshold. The drag through southwestern Wyoming can really put you to sleep, but luckily the skies were exciting enough to keep my eyes peeled.
The clouds intensified as I got closer to Ft. Bridger, showing serious potential for an exciting thunderstorm, which I was about to drive right into the heart of.
The sky went dark just after that last photo and my next half hour was spent in awe as lightning bolts struck all around the truck and everywhere else. The flashes of lightning would seemingly crawl through the clouds, occasionally dropping a bolt in front of me or somewhere very close by.
Very intense. I wished I had pulled over to get some shots since they were so frequent, I couldn't miss.
By the time I reached Evanston, it was beyond downpour status. Sheets of rain were falling and the lightning hadn't let up. It was a real storm. The kind I love seeing.
What a day! I finally got to cross kokanee off my list, meet some good folks, and drive through an incredible electrical storm. Good times.
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