It has been a year; between work (retired yes, work yes but I would do it for no wages. I love my job) and life, fishing trips have been few and far between. Rating this trip is a challenge. The rating system is based on catch, fish or no fish so many of our trips could be rated based on the overall experience. This report is actually for two days, Sunday July 26th and Tuesday July 28th. The combined rating is 3 for sockeye and would be a 5 if we were fishing for kokanee. The experience would be rated a 10, nothing better than having the grand kids out and getting them into a few fish!
Sunday was an on again off again day. We had offered to take the grand kids up to Baker Lake for the day. Scheduling became a bit of an issue and we had to bend their parenting plan. Our plan was for me to take the boat up Saturday evening and anchor somewhere for the night where I would have phone reception. The gang would text me if it was a go with the grand-dudes. Long story short, I met the troop at the Kulshan launch at 0600 Sunday morning and our adventure began.
The pajama clad kids arrived right at 6:00 am. In spite of an 4:00 get up they were wide awake and ready for an adventure. Our run up the lake was a slow one; between photo opps, “Grampa, where did you spend the night?”, letting them drive and an endless string of 3 and 4 year-old outdoors observations/questions we made it a leisurely cruise up the lake.
Earlier intel, suggested that the fishing had been really slow. In my mind, typical of the Baker Lake sockeye fishery. It starts out red hot and then after a few weeks it slows to a challenging fishery. With the 2020 poor return forecast it would be even more so this year. That said I had a plan… We started in an area that my boat has had solid late season success.
Boat on autopilot (grand kids at the helm) I got to work getting the gear down. Although 5 of us were on the boat and we could have run 7 rods. I opted for a surgical approach using 4 downriggers to chase meter marks. Three rods down and setting up the 4th I see a fish at 32’ and bring one of the downriggers up to intercept and continue deploying the 4th rod. Just as I sit back down the rigger at 32’ goes off and we are fish on. It had already been discussed and my 3-year-old guest was supposed to be up to bat. The whole thing was a bit overwhelming for the little dude. He opted to stay cuddled up with mommy and watch while his brother excitedly wanted to fight the fish. I hand him the rod, well mostly anyway. Grandpa assisted with leverage and kept the rod pointed at the fish. The fish was a beast, making numerous long runs and jumping all over the place. It was at the net a number of times, only to say ”not this time, I’m out of here”. After what seemed like forever grandma slides the net under the little dudes first Baker Lake sockeye. High fives around, we had one proud little fisherman on the dance floor.
The next fish was also hooked after lowering a rigger to a meter mark. This time it was the 3 year-old’s turn. He had been watching, studying his brother’s battle and was ready. He jumped in and like a pro took the hand off. The fish was another feisty one, running out away from the boat to begin a series of aerial displays. This time I asked his mom to help him while I grabbed the net. Unfortunately, the fish wrapped a downrigger cable and started jumping again. Although I didn’t have a chance to get a net under it our little 3-year-old fish’n-dude was just as proud as his brother.
From that point on we caught and released a mess of kokanee and had a number of drive-bys but no more sockeye love. It was getting hot so we decided to pull the plug. Fishing done but our day of adventure was not over. After a leisurely cruise back down the lake we beached the boat in a cove and goofed off in the water for a few hours. After everyone was appropriately waterlogged, we put the boat back on the trailer and headed for Cascade Burgers in Concrete for a tasty end of our day at the lake adventure.
Tuesday the 28 was slated for another day at Baker. The wife and I decided to head up to the lake after I got off work. We got up there around 7:00 pm and headed up lake to anchor for the night. As beautiful as the lake is during the day, it is absolutely glorious at night. The mountain was moon-lit and the milky way was spectacular. Awake before the 4:30 alarm, I rigged the gear and got the anchor stowed. With the first rays of daylight we were motoring to our “spot”.
On arrival we quickly got to business and were into our first fish shortly after we went gear down. From that point we lost a fish at the net and caught and released a slough of kokanee. Although we were having solid action to keep us on our toes no more salmon love. After a quick gear change, we got into a school of biters, in short order we put 3 more in the box and were done by about 9:00.
Our gear/technique summary for both days is about the same. We ran all 4 rods off the riggers and were chasing meter marks. Every fish hooked, whether it was a kokanee or sockeye was hooked off a meter mark. We caught fish between 12’ and about 50’ deep. We were fishing “O” dodgers in both chrome and white followed by a variety of lures. Small pink and orange mini squids and a white spinner blade seemed to have the edge. Our leader length is 8-10” and I would stager the setback from the down rigger ball. All the gear was tipped with either a hunk of cured spot prawns or some of the new shrimp scent gel from Pautzke. Although the cured shrimp had an edge, the gel scent definitely worked. Our trolling speed varied between .8 and about 1.4 mph. Over about 1.0 mph seemed to be a sweet spot for the kokanee.
Our time at Baker Lake was fun and although only semi productive we couldn't ask for a better day. As a side note; we bought the squirt tube pictured that the kids are playing with at Hooked On Toys in Wenatchee about 10 years ago. We keep it in the boat and year after year it been a solid source of entertainment. LOL, mainly for me as I blast our friend’s boats from 50’ away…