Rainbow Trout, Bull Trout, Kokanee, Brook Trout, Mountain Whitefish, Sucker, and Westslope Cutthroat
This large Tieton River impoundment stretches along Highway US-12, about 10 miles east of White Pass. It is in the Wenatchee National Forest at 2,922 feet elevation (at the spillway). It is open to fishing year-round. Rimrock provides good fishing for eight- to 11-inch kokanee; with a generous kokanee catch limit of 16 fish. Rainbows are also available, some up to 16 inches. This is normally one of the best and most popular kokanee-fishing destinations in Yakima County from early May through August. Trolling and still fishing is effective and chumming is permitted. There is a 5 trout daily limit (excluding kokanee) with no minimum size requirement.
The lake is closed to fishing for bull trout. Please carefully release any bull trout that are inadvertantly hooked.
South side of White Pass Highway between White Pass summit and the town of Rimrock.
Take U.S. 12 east from White Pass or west from Naches. The highway parallels to the north shore of the resevoir for several miles. Turn south on Forest Service Road 12 at either end of Rimrock to reach the south side of the lake.
Forest Service campgrounds that offer tent and RV sites, drinking water, and rest rooms, plus private lodges, boat ramps, stores, gas stations and restaurants are scattered along the highway on the north side of the lake. Boat ramps and campgrounds are also available on the south side of the lake, near the east end.
Some years Rimrock is the most productive lake in Washington for Kokanee, giving uo tens of thousands of these fine eating little Sockeye Salmon in a single summer season. When it’s prime, usually through July, anglers even catch Kokanee from the banks, a rarity in most Northwest Kokanee lakes. Unfortunately, the reservoir’s valuable Kokanee population takes a back seat to agriculture irrigation, which is why Tieton Dam was built and the lake was formed in the first place. A few years ago the lake was drawn down to little more than a river running through a wide basin, but the Department of Fish and Wildlife had time to plan for the event and “saved” large numbers of Kokanee for replanting after the reservoir refilled. As a result, Kokanee fishing is now as nearly as good as it was during its heyday in the middle-eighties. The fish aren’t to big, averaging eight to eleven inches, but there’s a 16-fish daily limit and good anglers have little trouble reaching those numbers in a few good hours.
Strings of trolling blades, followed by Wedding Ring spinners, Needlefish, Double Whammys, and other flashy lures, account for the many of the Kokanee. Tip the hooks with maggots or Berkley Power Wigglers to improve your chances.
The lake is also stocked with Rainbow Trout, which can be caught on all the usuall spoons, spinners, wobbling plugs, and baits. Rimrock holds a few hefty Bull Trout, but if you catch one, you have to release it unharmed and as quickly as possible. Some of the troll caught Rainbows are caught on the Kokanee gear, but you can catch them still fishing with slip sinkers and worms or Power Bait.
Sockeye, Kokanee, Dolly Varden, Cutthroat and Rainbow Trout
Last Saturday in April. Sockeye salmon opening date dependent on run.
Closing date: October 31st.
North of Concrete in the Mount Baker National Forest
Take Highway 20 east from Interstate 5. About five miles east of Hamilton, turn left (north) on Baker Lake Road and follow it about 17 miles to the first of several roads leading right toward the lake.
U.S. Forest Service campgrounds and boat ramps are located at Horseshoe Cove, Panorama Point, Park Creek, and Shannon Creek, all on the west side of the lake, and Maple Grove, on the east side of the lake. The nearest food, gas, tackle, and lodging are back on Highway 20 in Hamilton and the town of Concrete.
Baker Lake, River, and the damn information:
Baker sockeye are native to Baker Lake and Baker River, tributary to the Skagit River. Baker sockeye have been exported to other waters of the state including Lake Washington. Artificial enhancement began in 1896 when the state built a hatchery on Baker Lake. The natural run at that time was estimated to be approximately 20,000 fish. Lower Baker Dam, which was constructed in 1925 creating Lake Shannon, blocked access to the lake. A ladder and “elevating contrivance” was constructed to provide passage. Adults were released above the dam to spawn naturally.
Construction of the Upper Baker Dam, completed in 1959, inundated the valley that included the natural Baker Lake. Artificial spawning beds were constructed at the upper end of the new Baker Lake to mitigate for loss of natural spawning beaches. These “beaches” were first used in 1957. A newly refurbished sockeye spawning beach will be used in 2011, near the new (2010) hatchery facility located below Baker Lake. The entire escapement of adults is now trapped below Lower Baker Dam and transported above the dams. Some are placed in the artificial spawning beaches, some are used for hatchery production, and others are released into Baker Lake to spawn naturally. Natural spawning takes place for the most part in seeps and springs at the head end of the lake and in the lower Baker River. Sockeye may also enter other tributaries. Fry from the artificial spawning beaches and from hatchery production are released into Baker Lake and Shannon Lake, where they rear naturally. At the smolt stage, sockeye are captured at both dams and released downstream below lower Baker dam to complete their seaward journey.
Adult Baker sockeye enter the trap from mid June to mid August. Numbers peak in mid-July. Spawning occurs from late September through December, peaking from late October to late November. The preseason forecast for the 2012 return is 35,366 sockeye salmon.
Recent research indicates that a significant portion of the kokanee salmon or “silvers” taken in the Baker Lake sport fishery may in fact be “residual” sockeye. These are offspring of sea-run parents that have not gone to sea after a year of rearing in freshwater and may spend their entire life in a lake. True kokanee are self-sustaining freshwater populations. Successful spawning by residual sockeye or kokanee has not been documented in Baker Lake although individuals presumed to be residuals have been observed with adult sockeye in spawning areas.
Fishing Baker Lake:
2012 Kokanee trapped count on Baker Lake: 27,559. Total transferred to the lake: 16,666. Kokanee/Sockeye draw most of the attention on this 3,600-acre Baker River impoundment, where kokanee anglers can be rewarded generously. The waters down around the south end of the lake, near the two dams, often produce the best kokanee catches, but if you pay close attention to your depthsounder/fishfinder as you explore the lake, you may find a school of these little salmon almost anywhere. Popular techniques for catching Baker Lake sockeye salmon include trolling, both with the use of downriggers or without. The fish can usually be found from as deep as 70 feet up to the surface, with the depth often depending on light conditions and time of day.
Popular lures for catching Baker Lake sockeye are a bare red/pink hook or trimmed pink hootchie, trolling .6 – 1.0 mph, behind a chrome or pearl (0/0 to 0) dodger with a 8 – 14″ leader. Downrigger works best, 35 – 50 feet deep, otherwise a 6 or 8oz sinker 25 to 35 strips down (60-80 feet of line). Early morning and late evening are the most productive times.
Special rules: Waters within 200-foot radius of pump discharge at south end of lake closed to all fishing. Keeper trout (kokanee, rainbow, cutthroat) must be 6 inches minimum, but no longer than 18 inches maximum. Daily trout limit is five. Chumming (feeding to attract fish) is permitted. For other gamefish statewide rules apply. Salmon, native char (bull trout and Dolly Varden) and wild steelhead may not be retained.
As with kokanee, you might find a respectable rainbow trout or dolly varden almost anywhere on this big reservoir, but I recommend fishing around the mouths of the many streams that flow into the lake. You may find the fresh, moving water, lake that near the mouths of Sandy, Little Sandy, Boulder Park, Shannon, Noisy, Anderson, and other creeks entering Baker Lake. We troll triple teazer’s Dick Nite, Canadian Wonder, or similiar wobbling spoons in silver/red head, and don’t be afraid to troll in the middle depths of the lake, or even deeper if you are looking for trophy sized rainbows. The view is simply amazing.
Glenn (L), Martin, Karl and Mark (R) with some tasty sockeye!
I was lucky enough to be able go up and fish for most of the outing. When I got to Baker Lake, I found that the fishing had slowed for a number of reasons. The fish had been in the lake for a while and they had already seen a lot of gear. In addition, the lake’s surface water temperature had risen to 67 degrees.
The good news is that Glenn H., the Eastside Chapter’s fishing leader for this outing, had found a solution. He switched from the standard hoochie rig to Brad’s Super Bait Mini Cut Plug.
He rigged the Brad’s Cut Plug with a 14 and ½ inch leader with two size 2/0 red hooks. We soaked the sponge that fits inside the Cut Plug with Kokanee scent and put a small piece of dyed coon stripe shrimp on the top hook. We fished this rig behind a size “0” dodger. We used several dodger finishes but the prism tape finish was the most consistent producer.
The rig we used. Plus, a second Cut Plug open showing the scent soaked pad.
The “Hot Pink” color Cut Plug was what we started with but we found that “Hot Red” and Red Glitter” worked equally well. This was important because the sockeye were attacking the Cut Plugs with such ferocity that they were breaking the leaders.
Fishing each day was a little different as the sockeye moved around. However, there were several constants. We trolled as slow as we could, often deploying two “drift socks”. We tried to keep the speed between 0.8 and 1.0 MPH. In addition, 45 feet down on the downrigger was the most consistent depth. Lastly, there seem to two distinct “bite times”. The first was between 7 and 9 in the morning and the other was between 11 am and 1 pm.
The sockeye we boated averaged between 5 and 6 pounds. Using the Brad’s Mini’s, most days we had lots of action with even a double header one day! We hooked way more fish then needed to earn our limits but with sockeye’s tendency to roll, twist and jump we lost many of the fish.