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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Adventures await with night fishing for kokanee

The late Red Crass of Loon Lake beat the heat by still-fishing at night for kokanee using lights on his small boat. (Rich Landers)
The late Red Crass of Loon Lake beat the heat by still-fishing at night for kokanee using lights on his small boat. (Rich Landers)

Nighttime kokanee fishing has been good to excellent at Loon Lake for most of the summer. With the generous limit of 10, I’ve caught enough of these landlocked sockeye for several barbecues and I’ve even canned a few pints for kokanee sandwiches – which taste much like tuna sandwiches but without the mercury.

I’ve been practicing catching kokanee at night for a long time, beginning in the early 80s when I lived at Loon.

I finally “get” it, but for the novice, kokanee fishing can be humbling, frustrating and even humiliating. The bite is so subtle, otherwise excellent anglers will catch nothing while sitting in the boat with veterans who are hauling in fish as fast as they can get their Glo-Hook and maggots in the water.

A kokanee, you see, doesn’t bite; it approaches the offering and softly sucks it in. If it doesn’t like the flavor or texture, it exhales.

A successful angler is obligated to engage in either a constant, slow jigging to detect the take, or “the kokanee stare” – rapt, almost hypnotic attention to the tip of his fishing rod.

When I go night fishing these days, I use a light powered by a 12-volt battery, but until a few years ago, I used a gas or propane- powered lantern – a lot of anglers still do.

My last gas lantern night resulted in a large fireball, two singed eyebrows, several boat loads of exclamations and a cloud of steam as the defective appliance headed for the bottom of the lake. Friends insisted it was the operator rather than the device that was defective, but the trip was nevertheless ruined. A light is very necessary to kokanee fishing at night.

Other mishaps have also ended my night fishing prematurely – such as the time I got a hook in my face and the time I dropped an anchor which was not attached to the anchor rope.

Grandkids can also cause a night to end quickly. Mine are fun to fish with during a warm spring afternoon or a fresh summer morning, but night fishing for kokanee with more than one child under the age of 10 raises my blood pressure to dangerous levels.

Mostly, my grandkids don’t catch fish because they are never in the same spot for more than a minute at a time. They are frequently beckoned by the cooler full of goodies, the bluegills swimming in the light’s glow and assorted sibling skirmishes having to do with who has the best seat or who drank the last root beer.

They usually spend more time trying to net bluegills and bats and crushing Doritos all over the bottom of the boat than they do holding a fishing rod.

Loon Lake is a good provider and a mostly fun place to be on a hot summer night, but I’m always ready to put my boat away about the time the kokes start absorbing their scales prior to the spawn.

I’m sleep deprived, the dove season has begun and you don’t have to stay out past midnight to shoot doves.

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