By: Brad Wagner

A milder than average winter and spring like conditions in North Central Washington are paving the way for good kokanee fishing on Lake Chelan. Even when rivers in Western Washington are blown out conditions remain consistent for trollers vying to catch kokanee up here. This season has been good to us. We are bagging 12-16 inch kokanee and finding a few larger fish, too.

Known for clear and clean water Chelan’s kokanee are doing well. However, with the lake being 50 miles long and 1,486 feet deep it can be an intimidating lake to fish. Meanwhile, anglers that follow the feed (which is mostly zooplankton and tiny microscopic freshwater shrimp) do well. In early spring our kokanee tend to move from the middle of the lake toward the town Chelan. When they do we troll 30-70 feet deep to catch them.


I fish basic kokanee set ups with trolling flies and spinner rigs behind Sling Blade style dodgers. Leader length does matter and varies depending on the lure you are using. Leader length controls the action to the lure from the dodger. I run a 12-inch leader on my flies and hoochies and 18-inch leaders on Wedding Ring style spinner rigs. If success is limited try changing leader sizes or changing boat speed.


I tip all the lures with Fire Corn. On other hand I add scent to some before tipping them on the hook. Kokanee are finicky. Therefore, I often switch up the colors and scents I use. I keep a few different options at my disposal at all times and as the bite changes I switch out different colors/scents. I fish a contrast of colors of corn, such as one pink piece and one orange piece. Normally, I start the day with Natural Fire Corn (right out of the jar) and grab one of the jars that I added scent to as the bite changes.

Fire Corn natural corn out 2016 Final

Editor’s Note: Brad Wagner operates Bobber Down Guide Service. For more info on his guided Lake Chelan kokanee trips please visit or