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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

June 29, 2011 at 2:11 PM

Baker Lake sockeye fishery could be looming on the July horizon

The sockeye watch on Baker Lake has started, and the good news is the tribal fishery in the lower river has been seeing decent catches.

According to Brett Barkdull, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist, the phones have been literally ringing off the hook, and at a pace that he can’t get back to everyone.

“It is all about the sockeye right now, and it is still too early to say for certain when Baker Lake will open,” Barkdull said. “The tribal fishers are catching them pretty good in the lower river.”

Through June 28, the Baker River trap count is 438 sockeye, and the fish transferred from the trap to Baker Lake is 58.

“We’re still trying to identify what our number is (for returning sockeye) because sometimes they tend to show up in a big way and we are waiting to see when that will happen,” Barkdull said. “By the time we open the fishing season there will be a whole bunch in the lake.”

Last year, 14,239 were counted at the Baker trap, and the fishing season opened in Baker Lake on July 22.

“Now last year we got surprised by the big number that came back so soon, and if the run comes in like it did last year we would open it up at least a week earlier (than last year),” Barkdull said. “So I am thinking around July 10, and if the run doesn’t show in very big numbers early it may be (opening) as late as July 25. That is my best guess at this point.”

Barkdull says what is crazy about these fish is their run timing varies by about two weeks.

He says fisheries will give folks at least a 48 hours notice of the opening so plan on having your gear and boat ready!

For more information on the Baker Lake sockeye fishery and fish counts go to the state Fish and Wildlife website.

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