Abundant kokanee have fueled exceptional fishing at Dworshak Reservoir this year. In June, catch rates were just under two fish per hour for the kokanee fishery, which is as good as we have seen. As expected with high abundance, kokanee are smaller than average this year. The average size of kokanee in the creel during June was 9 ¼ inches. While these fish are fattening up, competition for food is restricting growth. IDFG biologists completed the annual mid-water trawl survey for kokanee between July 13 and 15. While the highest catch of adult kokanee was near Grandad, adult kokanee were encountered throughout the reservoir with decent catches as far down as Freeman Creek. However, these fish likely won’t remain in the lower portion of the reservoir much longer. Adult fish usually aren’t found below Grandad by the end of July. As adult kokanee congregate at the upper end of the reservoir, fishing can be exceptional, but maturing fish can also be fickle biters. Adult kokanee caught in the trawl ranged from 8 to 10 inches.
Smallmouth Bass fishing slowed in June, with a catch rate around 1.3 fish per hour. The average size of harvested bass was about 12 inches in June, but keep in mind that anglers release nearly 90% of the bass they catch, so many of the larger bass are not seen by creel clerks. The high abundance of age-1 kokanee encountered in the trawl survey, which are about 6 inches long, is expected to provide bountiful forage for bass, resulting in better bass fishing in the coming years.
Kokanee caught in the trawl survey were more abundant than normal in 2021. However, most were age-1, which will enter the fishery next year. Photo by Curtis Roth.