The unexpected Baker Lake sockeye season will close after this weekend following two weeks of solid fishing.
“The catches rates were unbelievable, like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” said outgoing WDFW District Fisheries Biologist Brett Barkdull.
His agency says that the number of salmon left in the lake is nearing the 1,500-fish floor needed for agreed-to natural spawning goals.
At least 7,384 sockeye have been trucked up from the Baker River fish trap for that and fishing, and during the first week of the season that began July 18, 4,700-plus were kept by anglers.
Tribal fishermen netted fish in the Skagit River as well.
After initial fears this year’s run wouldn’t even make escapement goals let alone provide for a recreational fishery, state managers were able to open the season as more fish came in and enough were available to meet hatchery, beach and natural spawning needs.
But now returns to the trap are on the downward slope.