The mnemonics are supposed to be forgotten. I’m pretty sure there’s an article or something about this…somewhere, but I don’t remember. You’ll get to a point where it’s the reverse of where you are now (instantly remembering the mnemonic and then gradually remembering the reading/meaning) to where you instantly remember the reading/meaning and you’re like, “What in the world was the mnemonic again?”
Obviously, if you’re in an actually Japanese-speaking situation, and you have a word you want to say - let’s use “townspeople” - you don’t want to be like, “Townspeople…Mrs. Chou is one of the people in town…Mrs. Chou is evil…ah yes, the reading for town is ‘ちょう’” and then repeat the same process for “people.” Eventually, you’ll just think, ちょうみん, and the evil deeds of Mrs. Chou will be a distant, haunting memory.
As far as recalling words, I do feel this is one of WK’s weak points. For example, on sites like Kitsun, I love that you are presented with the English word (deck allowing) and asked to present the Japanese version (in my case, the katakana version). Sometimes I may find myself reaching for a word and not remembering what the Japanese word is, but if I were to see the kanji, I could instantly read it. There are user scripts like the Self-Study Quiz that I highly recommend which include English to Japanese and audio quizzes. If used improperly, user quiz scripts may break the SRS benefits if you’re constantly reviewing information, but I recommend them as supplements for the things WK can’t (or doesn’t) do like English to Japanese.