By Wayne Kruse Special to The Herald
Happens every year about this time: too many fishing opps, not enough days. Baker Lake sockeye, Marine Area 9-10 selective chinook, resident coho getting bigger, tuna off the coast, a good coastal salmon season under way, sockeye and increasing numbers of summer chinook in the mid-Columbia, and a lot more.
Then add at least two additional major fisheries — a possible Lake Wenatchee sockeye opening and a very large number of chinook predicted for the just-opened buoy 10 fishery — and your plate overfloweth.
Call in sick until it gets embarrassing, I guess.
“Pretty good but probably getting better” is the word from Kevin John of Holiday Sports in Burlington about the Baker Lake sockeye circus. The total number of fish trapped at Baker Dam as of Sunday was 20,652, and the number trucked to the lake was 14,557, compared to a total in the lake last summer of 27,200.
State Fish and Wildlife Department biologist Brett Barkdull said Tuesday that the run size, originally estimated this year at 35,400 sockeye, has been updated to 42,400. “And it could end up a little larger than that,” he said.
John said the action is still improving, but that increasing fishing pressure seems to be scattering the schools to a degree. “The area around Noisy Creek is still good, and that’s where you’ll see most of the fleet, but we’re marking more fish toward the center of the lake and even along the north shore,” he said.
Warming water temperatures are pushing the fish a little deeper, with most anglers finding their fish at 25 to 40 feet. The top setup remains an “0” dodger, a piece of heavy leader 11/2 times the length of the dodger, a double red hook tie with a hot pink mini-squid and lots of krill or shrimp scent. John said a fair percentage of anglers are adding a Smile Blade (green or pink) in front of the squid.
“The crucial factor, both for parking and fishing, is to get there early,” John said.
Lake Wenatchee sockeye
State biologist Travis Maitland said Wednesday morning that enough sockeye have been counted over Tumwater Dam on the Wenatchee River to allow opening of a recreational fishing season on Lake Wenatchee, possibly by this weekend. He was in the process of having an e-regulation approved by regional and state managers, shooting for an Aug. 4 opener.
If it’s approved, the regulation will appear first on the agency’s website, www.wdfw.wa.gov.
Maitland said the fish look healthy and are going the usual size — 2 to 5 pounds and occasionally to 6.
The bulk of the fishing on Lake Wenatchee is at the upper end, where two tributary rivers enter. That’s about 4 or 5 miles from the state park at the lower end, where most anglers launch. There is also a rough launch site with a gravel ramp, suitable for small boats, uplake on the west shoreline at Glacier View, but parking is limited and it fills up quickly, Maitland said.
Good early tuna
Albacore fishing has begun off the Washington coast and it appears to be early this year, according to state coastal sampling coordinator Wendy Beeghley.
“Fishing was good last week, especially for this early,” Beeghley said. “And another unusual thing, we saw fish all the way up and down the coast, from Ilwaco to Neah Bay. That’s exciting.”
She said tuna anglers boated anywhere from less than 1 per rod to more than 10 per rod. The closest fish were found at about 20 miles, but most were taken 30 to 40 miles out.
Beeghley said a few charters were working the albacore, but the majority of anglers were on private boats.
A yellow king?
Reader and longtime salmon fisherman Jim Brink sent three photos of a bright chinook with unusual yellow coloring on its lower quarter — belly and fins. He asked if I had ever seen anything like it.
I haven’t. Nor heard of anything similar.
Brink said it was caught in local waters, and a couple of folks were wondering if it was safe to eat.
I ran it past retired fisheries biologist Curt Kraemer of Marysville, and he hadn’t heard of anything exactly like that either. He said he’s seen photos of pink trout (probably exposed to a dye situation of some kind), and has seen spots of unusual color on various species, including yellow spots on salmon, but never anything like this.
Kraemer’s opinion is that it’s probably a dye-related skin issue, perhaps the result of carotene in the diet (shrimp of some kind?), and that he probably would eat the fish.
“More evidence of carotene would be if the flesh was a really bright red-orange,” he said.
We’re posting a photo of the fish on heraldnet.com. To see the photo, visit my blog www.heraldnet.com/huntingandfishing, and if you have further information, e-mail me, Wayne Kruse, at firstname.lastname@example.org and I[‘]ll share the info.
For more hunting and fishing news, visit Wayne Kruse’s blog at www.heraldnet.com/huntingandfishing.