Kokanee are also known as red fish. They eat Zooplankton which causes the redness of their flesh. Zooplankton are very small light sensitive aquatic animals and will only move up in the water column during low light periods. As the day gets brighter, zooplankton will go deeper and the Kokanee will follow.

Kokanee can live between 4 to 7 years and like salmon they die off after the spawn. Kokanee go into streams and lake shores to spawn from August to December. During the spawn, the fish will transform in appearance from nickel silver color to green and red which is similar to Sockeye Salmon. Kokanee salmon males and females look different. The male has long jaws, large teeth and hooked snout.

Fishing For Kokanee

Fishing for kokanee is a challenge. Trolling is an effective way to present lures to the fish and encourage the bite. A medium action rod with a good quality reel is needed. Make sure the reel has a line counter, deep spool and drag system to keep the fish hooked through the initial bite and then the fight.

Water Temperature and Preferred Depths

The water temperature is very important for Kokanee. They prefer to stay in the mid depths of the open water which has a temperature below 54˚F within the water column and not over 55 degrees as its harmful for them and can even be lethal. That is why most anglers will test water temperature and seek local advice when catching kokanee.

As Autumn approaches, the mature kokanee are getting ready to spawn. They will move into shallower waters.  It is best not to target kokanee during this time because these fish have a high mortality rate when caught. They don’t deal with stress easily.

Trolling for Kokanee

The effective way to target this kokanee is by trolling. Trolling allows you to cover a large amount of water. Your electronics and devices will also help you discover a group of kokanee with correct trolling depths and water temperatures. This enables you to get on fish easier.

It is important for anglers to know the trolling speeds when fishing for Kokanee. The most effective speed is from 1mph to 1.5mph. The slower you are trolling the best results. Kokanee are also food for bigger fish like Rainbow Trout, Burbot and Lake Trout. So will be careful feeders.

Kokanee are curious about their environment. They are aggressive and attracted to certain vibrations and colors. The Kokanee are attracted to objects that do not exist naturally as long as they are not threatened by it. Don’t oversize your lures with this fish.

Kokanee have three primary characteristics. The first two are the inner lines and a lateral line on each side of the fish. The last one is a long air bladder, which is longer than any other fish in freshwater. The three characteristics are used to detect sounds. They can locate prey and distinguish where the sound is coming from. The air bladder is used for long distance sounds while the inner ear and lateral lines are used for short distance sounds.

When trolling for Kokanee always be prepared. Don’t ever forget your safety needs and equipment when fishing. It is like fishing for carp, patience and frustration are bedfellows with this reclusive fish.

Trolling Reels

Kokanee salmon are a challenging fish to catch and paying a little attention to equipment will make this easier. You can start with smaller reels and lines as they don’t grow to huge sizes, but if you are looking to cross over to sea and freshwater trolling we have included some reels that can be used for both. All of the fishing reels below will help you fish for Kokanee.

1. Daiwa Sealine Sg-3B Line Counter Reel

The Daiwa Lexa Line Counter Reel has comfortable handling and carries a high line capacity and overbuilt drag system.  This trolling reel is all about handling a heavy fish. It balances nicely on any trolling rod. It is made of sturdy aluminum frame and gear side plate for extra strength. Great for Freshwater targeting trout and salmon as well as kokanee.

Daiwa Sealine SG-3B 4.2:1 Line Counter Left Hand Reel w/ Dual Paddle Handle - SG27LC3BLW
  • One-piece composite frame. Machined Aluminum Spool
  • Direct drive built-in line counter (measures in feet). Automatic, self engaging clutch
  • 3 Bearing System (3BB)
  • Ultimate Tournament carbon drag (UTD), Max Drag-16lbs. Dual Paddle Handle (Left Hand).


  • Low-profile construction but sleek and tight
  • Comfortable handling and high line capacity
  • Freshwater and Saltwater tough
  • Lightweight
  • Mechanical line counter reads in feet
  • Excellent and smooth 7-bearing system
  • Dual Anti-Reverse
  • Maximum drag up to 22 lbs.
  • Ultimate Tournament Carbon Drag

2. Okuma Cold Water Low Profile Line Counter


This trolling reel is good for salmon, trout and walleye fish. This Okuma Cold Water trolling reel brings together the three core features. First it has a compact ergonomic body while housing a 350 size spool. Second, it has a powerful drag system that has a maximum drag output of 25 pounds. Lastly, the third one is the precision line-counter for trolling presentations. The Cold Water 350 Low Profile Line Counter can do the casting, trolling, jiggling, and back-bouncing and float fishing.

Sale 13%
Okuma Cold Water Linecounter Trolling Reel CW-303D, Silver
  • Made using the highest quality materials
  • Tested for reliability and quality
  • Used by professionals worldwide
  • Lightweight corrosion resistant frame and side plates


  •  Stiff die cast aluminum frame and handle side plate
  • Multi-disc and carbonite drag system
  • Quick set anti-reverse roller bearing
  • Mechanical line counter function measures in feet
  • Oversized machine cut CL drive and pinion gears
  • Stainless steel ball bearings
  • 5.4:1 gear ratio
  • Automatic trip, spool engaging mechanism
  • Clear View Technology
  • 1 year limited warranty

3. Abu Garcia Ambassador Reel

This Abu Garcia Black ambassador trolling reel has class-leading performance for it has a compact and lightweight design. It incorporates new styling, value and reliability. It has a tough performance and the compact bent handle provides more ergonomic feel during the activity.

Abu Garcia ALTUMDLCSYN-20 Ambassadeur Altum DLC Fishing Reel
  • Lighted digital line counter provides greater accuracy with line diameter adjustability
  • 2 stainless steel ball bearings provides smooth Operation
  • Graphite frame and side plates
  • Carbon matrix drag System provides smooth, consistent drag pressure across the entire drag range


  •  4 stainless steel ball bearings
  • 1 roller bearing provides smooth operation
  • Drag system is smooth
  • The machined aluminum spool provides strength without adding some weight
  • The brake system has a consistent brake pressure throughout the cast
  • One piece graphite frame
  • Graphite side plates
  • Tough Performance

Abu Garcia BMAX3-L Black Max Low-Profile Baitcast Fishing Reel, Left Hand
  • Lightweight design with one-piece graphite frame and side plates
  • 4 stainless steel ball bearings
  • Power Disk system
  • MagTrax brake system boosts range and accuracy of casts

4. Shimano Calcutta D Series Reel

The redesigned Shimano Calcutta D Series trolling reel has a classic round reel but is the fastest for today’s fishing styles. Its strong ultra-light forged aluminum frames and side plates ensure smooth power and solid rigidity. This reel is one of the Kokanee trolling reel killers because it works perfect without down riggers.

It has the Shimano price attached to it though!

Shimano Calcutta 300 D roundprofile righthand baitcast fishing reel CT300D
  • Gear ratio: 5.6:1, Retrieve: right, max. drag force: 15 lbs
  • Mono line capacity (lbs/yd): 12/230,14/180,17/150
  • PowerPro line capacity (lbs/yd): 40/195,50/190,65/125
  • Line retrieve per crank: 30 inch


  • Cold- forged Aluminum frame, sideplates and spool
  • Anti- Rust bearings
  • Variable brake system
  • Super Stopper
  • 3 Bolt quick take down
  • Septon handle grips
  • Can be used in saltwater
  • Metal Series
  • Easy access sideplate
  • Dartainium Drag
  • Use with Mono, Fluorocarbon and PowerPro lines

Don’t forget once you have caught them they are excellent table fish. The red meat is perfect looking and tasting! Enjoy your season!

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