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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

July 15, 2013 at 1:37 PM

Baker Lake sockeye fishery decent for some anglers but not all

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(A nice sockeye hits the deck of the boat. Photo by Mark Harrison, Seattle Times staff photographer.)

While the sockeye saga continues on Lake Washington those who’ve managed to get up and fish Baker Lake were finding some good action.

But, much of that depended on that old saying of 10 percent of the anglers who know what they’re doing were catching the fish.

“It is the same old thing as a few were catching them like crazy while others aren’t doing anything,” said Brett Barkdull, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.

The best fishing has been right at daybreak when the sockeye have been higher up in the water column, but as the sun came up the fish were deeper than last year and in the 40 foot range.

“The fish (in the commercial catch) have averaged 5.8 pounds, which is about one pound bigger than the average,” Barkdull said. “It doesn’t sound like there is any new secret lure to catch them and pretty much the same gear as last year.”

“The tech guy I talked to says those not using any bait (the traditional bare red or black hook) aren’t catching anything, but the guys using bait are catching more fish,” he said.

A creel check taken Sunday at Baker Lake showed 23 boats with 57 anglers caught 35 sockeye. The counts at the Baker River fish trap showed the numbers of fish arriving had slowed down with 204 sockeye on Saturday, July 13, and 175 on Sunday, July 14.

So far, 3,858 have been transferred up to Baker Lake, and 6,151 taken at the fish trap. Barkdull says this week, 1,637 sockeye are needed for broodstock spawning purposes before any would be moved into the lake.

A conference call was held Monday, July 15 by state Fish and Wildlife to get an update on the sockeye situation.

“The last two days the numbers of returning sockeye have been down” Barkdull said. “None of us believe the run is coming in above forecast (of 21,557) and we may even downgrade it. The million dollar question is what is the midpoint of the run? If they are early then it will be less than forecast and if they are right on the July 17 (peak timing) then it will be slightly below forecast.”

State Fish and Wildlife fisheries managers plan to have another conference call on Wednesday, July 17.

“At this point there is nothing to get excited about and we don’t plan on opening any other fisheries,” Barkdull said.

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