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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

August 2, 2011 at 4:13 PM

Baker Lake sockeye fishery update

BakerLake2.jpg

Here is the latest Baker Lake sockeye fishing report from Brett Barkdull, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.

“Folks are getting better at catching them” Barkdull said. “Right now, I have only four days worth of catch estimates, the total catch is estimated to be about 1,600.”

“Catch rates are climbing each day since the opener,” he said. “Even if we assume a constant 400 a day, which I know is a little low, 10 days of season puts us at 4,000 harvested through (Monday, Aug. 1, which is a ballpark estimate). I’m betting the fishermen keep figuring it out how to get them.”

Total to the lake as of Aug 2 is 15,915, and total at the fish trap is 24,201. The tribes catch is in the neighborhood of 11,000, Barkdull says.

Some anglers have questioned why the Baker and Skagit rivers weren’t open for sockeye fishing this summer, and here is the response below from Barkdull.

“To be very clear, success, or lack thereof really had nothing to do with why it was not open this year,” Barkdull said. “The fishery was not opened because of bad behavior. Snagging, overlimits, not recording catch, hiding fish from officers, lying to officers, threatening officers, fishing at night, not cooperating with creelers, threatening creelers, and threatening tribal fishers with at least one instance at gun point,” Barkdull said.

The fishery in the Baker and Skagit rivers above The Dalles was never very successful, in any way shape or form, according to Barkdull.

Here some number to chew on as far as the river catch had gone in the past:

In 2000, the terminal sport caught 216 in the river under a total sockeye return of 10,848; 2001, 30 with a return of 5,032; 2002, 15 with a return of 4,039; 2003, 471 with a return of 20,967; 2004, 527 with a return of 11,335; 2005, 110 with a return of 3,587; 2006, 537 with a return of 9,873; 2007, 172 with a return of 3,722; 2008, 339 with a return of 5,719; and 2009, 36 with a return of 6,797.

“But, that aside, doesn’t mean I think a river fishery can’t be successful, a lower river fishery has been talked about,” Barkdull said who proposed it at North of Falcon three years ago to policy folks, so “I’m not against such an idea.”

(Photo by Ron Judd, Seattle Times staff columnist)

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