Sockeye season opened on Wednesday (August 5) on Lake Wenatchee and will remain open through the weekend and, perhaps, into the early part of the week before the harvestable number of fish have been caught. Because of the warm weather lots of  sockeye have not entered the lake yet and there will probably be another week of fishing once more fish move upstream into the lake (future dates will be announced in…, well, the future. Here are the regulations for sockeye fishing on Lake Wenatchee.

The most effective way to catch sockeye is by trolling. Most fishermen use motorboats to troll, but trolling from a canoe or kayak is an effective (and inexpensive) way to net fish. An added bonus: Even if you don’t catch anything, you get a good paddle outing in. Best time to catch fish — early in the morning… get out there close to first light.

Rob Shurtleff has a home on the lake and wrote this article for the website (an excellent site for all things pertaining to the lake). The text of the article is included below. Pictures illustrating the gear Rob mentions are posted with the article on the LakeWenatchee Info website. The gear Rob describes is all available at Hooked on Toys in Wenatchee (1444 N Wenatchee Ave, (509) 663-0740).

Rob’s Basic Sockeye Rig

With the 2009 Sockeye season having just started, we decided to republish the two best articles from last years season so you have to try and find them in the archive.

So if you are wondering, do I need to go spend a bunch of money to get outfitted to fish sockeye on Lake Wenatchee?

In 2001 and 2004 I used this down rigger kit and caught 15+ fish each season and toughened my hands significantly in the process.

1:  110 Feet of camp line marked every 10 feet with a Sharpie water proof pen wound on a stick.

2:  A 10 pound ball, with a line release clip.  This rig allows you to claim exercise credits every time you have to haul the rig back into the boat.

3:  The only pricey item was a small electric trolling motor that I unceremoniously mount to a home made rig that is bungee corded to the swim ladder on our ski boat.  You need to be able to troll slowly.  You can use almost any boat.  I have seen everything from $50,000 aluminum jet boats to kayaks and canoes.  I am certainly not the only one to use a ski boat.  So if the requirement is that go slow, and you don’t have a trolling motor what can you do?  In 2001 I didn’t have the trolling motor and so I just idled the ski boat, and slipped it in and out of gear every minute or so, not optimal but it worked.

4: You will want a net to land your prize sockeye with and a cooler with ice to keep it fresh and keep the fish slime out* of the ski boat.

5:  Almost any rod will do.

6:  A #0 or #1 Flasher, 20 pound leader to a bare red hook, black hook or pink hoochie.

The Big Question Number 1:  How Much Leader between the flasher and the hook?

I have had luck with 18 inches.  Opinions many vary.

The Big Question Number 2:  How deep to troll?

There will be plenty of boats out with fancy fish finders,  90% of the folks will tell you what they are seeing and what depth the are trolling.  The fish go deeper as the day progresses.  More flashers in the water increases the agitation of the fish, and thus the catch.  The Sockey aren’t eating, they are just snapping out of pre-spawning aggression.

We will publish the fishery rules as we become aware of them.  Plan on a 2 fish per license per day limit.  Very likely barbless hooks (crush the barb to the hook shank with needle nose pliers).  Be careful to make sure you have a Sockeye and not a Bull Trout on the line before pulling it out of the water.  We will publish pictures and id hints.  As soon as a fish is landed YOU MUST record it on your catch card.

Knotless nets are required.  You can buy a net insert so you don’t need to buy a complete net.

There WILL be fish and game officers patrolling, they will check, please stay within the rules so we all can enjoy this unique opportunity again.

Sockeye skin begins to degrade once the fish leaves the salt water on their journey up the Columbia to the Lake.  The fish become very slimy.  Some of the fish will look pretty beat up, the meat will be fine.

First Published on July 27, 2008

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