For those of you Lake Wenatchee sockeye fishing aficionados, here is a summary of the season and a few lessons learned.
The estimate for the entire 2010 sockeye season (Aug. 1-3, August 7-31) is 2914 anglers fished 10,376 hours (mean angler day = 3.6 hrs.) and harvested 4,129 sockeye. Hatchery (PUD) origin fish made up about 10% of the harvest. It is estimated that 154 bull trout were caught and released. Using a 5% hooking mortality anglers probably killed 7.7 bull trout or (8) bull trout. Data from WDFW fisheries biologist Art Viola.
Each season is different and here are some of the lessons learned from this past season.
1. Fishing gear. I tried them all, the new spinner that worked so well at Brewster, the hot pink hoochie, and black and red hook. I found that the best by far (2:1 or better) was bare red hooks. I also really endorse the use of 2 hooks as the second hook is a big help in preventing loosing fish at the boat when they start to roll in the water.
2. Sockeye can go off the bite. After the end of the first 3 day season, it was really slow for several days. I suspect that this is the effect of the strong wind action that we experienced.
3. This lake can be a very dangerous lake during high wind conditions. With all the small boats involved in the fishery, people need to observe safety when the wind is blowing hard. This should be common sense, but we nearly lost a couple of anglers this year.
4. This year fishing deeper was definitely an advantage. The normal 30-35 ft. depth was simply not as productive. I ran our 3 rods at 50/55/60 ft.
5. Sockeye are schooling fish and continue to move. Don’t get hung up on your old favorite spot or where it was good yesterday. Move if you see fish or fish being caught. This is especially important if you don’t have a depth finder. Another good rule, if you get a fish, leave the other rods fishing as you will often hook up a second fish and then go right back to the spot that you originally hooked up. Occasionally I was successful by putting my motor into neutral when we had a fish on and I immediately hooked a second fish.
6. Fishing past 10:30 AM fishing really become much less productive. The sun is high which drive the fish deeper and seems to put them off the bite. I also notice that different than past years the evening fishing was very slow.
7. Don’t forget that the slower the better rule. Rowers will often do better than power boats because the power boats can’t slow down enough. Drag a bucket if you need to but go slow.
8. The hatchery fish are becoming a bigger component of the catch and the fish checkers noticed that they arrived later and were very bright towards the end of the season.
9. Don’t forget that the enforcement is generally always present and it is their job to protect the resource and make sure that everyone obeys the law.
10..Last and most important, we are blessed to have this fishery and it is extremely unusual to have it open 3 years in a row. We must always put the conservation of the fish first. If we can continue to make this a requirement and if mother nature treats us well (no floods), we will always have sockeye in Lake Wenatchee.
Thanks Rollie Schmitten