The first Baker trip of the year is always a learning experience. Baker Lake 2019 did not disappoint. After working nearly everyday for a month an afternoon at BL seemed appropriate, as it turned out my afternoon morphed into an afternoon/early morning fish finding adventure.
After working Saturday, I had the boat hitched up and ready to roll by 4:00. I slid the boat off the trailer just before 5:00. Shortly thereafter noticed a couple different fishing buddies that had the same agenda were launching their boats. After a short my bait is better than yours conflab we headed off in different directions. I headed to an area where I have had a fair amount of success hunting midday/afternoon Baker Lake sockeye.
After gear down in short order both rods go off. Both fish popped the clips but the fish didn’t stick. Odd on two points; one, if the fish pops the clip it is usually hooked and second, there was no meter mark. Almost all our Baker Lake fish are off of meter marks. Gear back down and head scratching in progress the hunt continues. A short while later the whole boat shudders with a violent rod shake, a downrigger clip released and it is fish on. A short while later the fish is bled and on ice. My first Baker sockeye of the year was onboard and skunk was off the boat.
After the first flurry of action the bite slowed down to a drive-by here and there for an hour or so. At around 8:00 or so; as I’m admiring a very nice meter mark both rods go off at once and I have a double going on. I set the hook on both rods and settle in fighting one of them. I had run both downriggers up to the stops but apparently fish number two seized an opportunity to make a run through the cables and around the fish that I was fighting. After untangling the mess, I go back to fighting the first fish and was able to slide the net under it a short while later. The second fish was meant to be. As I went to net it, one of the hooks caught the net, the fish flopped and won its freedom. Shortly there after one of my buddies has an issue with a downrigger so we all head in to drink beer and offer words of downrigger wisdom.
I was running chrome and mylar “O” dodgers and spinner rigs. I was running both pink and orange spinner blades and beads. The fish didn’t seem to have a preference but I would say that pink may have had an edge over the orange. I was tipping the lead hook with cured shrimp. Although I saw fish throughout the water column, the biters seemed to be swimming around between 32 and 38’. Antidotal, but the fish were solidly more aggressive when trolling .8-1.0 mph.
Having Sunday off I decided to fish Sunday morning also. After a stormy night on the hook I was gear down just as the first tendrils of light were signaling the arrival of a new day. The morning was not very productive I caught and released a 6-8-pound coho, a fat kokanee, reset the gear after a couple drive-bys and lost a fish. I had many meter marks but no fish love for me. As the morning progressed my focus changed from trying to catch a fish to underwater photography. I had a new idea for the camera set up and should have had some awesome footage. But as my luck with these things continues, something went wrong with the card and nothing was recorded. Oh well, lessons learned and the I will try again.
Speaking about lessons; where typically I search for meter marks I had a number of blind strikes. That says to me that there are fewer fish in the area that I was fishing and that the flash and scent had to draw them in verses a typical sockeye reaction bite. I will play with that theory next time out.
My first 2019 Baker Lake trip of the year was a blast and am looking forward to the next trip up the hill.