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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

July 22, 2010 at 5:23 PM

Baker Lake sockeye fishery opens up with a lot of experimenting and hunting down the fish

The Baker Lake sockeye fishery started off this morning (July 22) with a lot of anglers searching out the pristine lake to see where the fish were hanging out and what type of gear to use.

But, it didn’t take very long for some anglers to get dialed in on some fairly decent sockeye action.

“The fishery is sort of evolving and guys are trying to figure out what to use and not to use,” said Brett Barkdull, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist who surveyed about 50 boats in the morning although many have been coming and going all-day long.

“At first a few of the guys that were on the fish did well, but most weren’t doing that good,” Barkdull said. “As the day went on more people started to catch fish, but the cold and cloudy day may have had something to do with the success.”

As predicted, Barkdull says at least some of the sockeye were schooling up north in the lake around the mouth of the Baker River.

There was also a smattering of sockeye around the Kulshan Campground off the boat launch and another group of sockeye out in the middle of the lake.

Barkdull said the sockeye weren’t really hanging out off Baker Lake Resort where they were originally released.

“It is the same old story that if you find the fish (best to use a fish finder) and sit on top of the schools you will catch them,” Barkdull said. “The second most important thing is to stick something in front of them that they will see and bite.”

It appears the popular tactic used in Lake Washington and Lake Wenatchee, which is one or two bare 2/0, 3/0 or 4/0 red, blue or black hooks on a short 9- to 12-inch leader trailed behind a 0-size chrome dodger wasn’t the hot gear to use.

“The red hook trick doesn’t seem to be working well, and most of the guys are catching them on something else,” Barkdull said. “The guys are throwing out lots of different stuff at them, and it was a day of experimenting.”

The pink mini hootchie squid seems to be one of the go-to things to use early on. Some are also catching them on kokanee gear or Smile Blades.

The preferred depth has been 30 to 45 feet, and to your boat troll very SLOWLY. Another thing that could be making it tough to fish (especially with colored bare hooks) is the lake has a bit of glacial color. As Barkdull says it is “a whitish/bluish tint of color.”

“I would say the fishing is fair right now, but once they get dialed in, it will be lights out and I’m pretty excited about that,” Barkdull said. “I think it will only be a day or two and then it will explode with a ton of effort. There will be a lot of excitement, and from a management perspective it will be a smashing event.”

Barkdull says there was no problem encountered (with compliance) at all with the fishery, although some anglers who caught sockeye had questioned what is the newly implemented salmon catch record area for Baker Lake?

“Tell them to mark down Baker Lake as Area 825 on their salmon catch record cards,” Barkdull says.



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