Sock Season A Go On L. Wen.

They’re four deep at the tackle counter at 9:25 on a Thursday morning, a noisy gaggle all looking to get hooked up for the start of sockeye season next week.

The anglers all want to talk to Don Talbot, who staffs the fishing desk at Hooked On Toys (509-663-0740) in Wenatchee, but he’s busy on the phone with a reporter.

He answered the ring just a minute ago with a mad laugh.

All to be expected. Sockeye will do that to Washingtonians.

It’s been relatively rare that Lake Wenatchee has been opened for sockeye fishing, though it did occur last year. And good numbers of the salmon in the Columbia tipped he and others off to the potential for a fishery about two weeks ago, but we’ve all been waiting as state biologists counted fish at three dams to determine how many were diverting towards the mountain lake north of Leavenworth.

Talbot says he’s known for a couple days now that WDFW would open the lake, but the go-ahead, thanks to a “very robust run,” wasn’t announced until last night.

“On a premonition,” he began tying up 500 two-hook rigs, but even that may not be enough.

“I’m tying more sockeye gear right now,” says Talbot.

He also ordered up a mess of knotless nets, which are required for this fishery.

As for how to fish the lake, it’s a lot like sockeye fishing at Seattle’s big sock hop.

“Straight red hooks, two of ’em, but the trick, the Lake Washington experts taught me, is the shorter the leader, the better. Eight, 10, 12 inches,” he says.

String it to a 1 or O size dodger.

“It’s a real good early morning fishery, and then you’ve got to have the wherewithall to go to 80 to 100 feet after 8 a.m.,” Talbot tips.

If you don’t have a downrigger, run your dodger and hooks off a 4-ounce banana weight, but switch up to a 6-ouncer after 8 a.m., he says.

The drawback to Lake Wenatchee is the limited access, in terms of launches and trailer parking. There’s one paved boat ramp at Lake Wenatchee State Park ($7 to launch) and a primitive one at Glacier View Campground ($5).

Fishing opens an hour before official sunrise on August 5.

Season runs until the surplus of sockeye back to the mountain lake have been caught. The daily limit is two sockeye 12 inches or longer.

Anglers are required to use single-point barbless hooks, but you can string up to three of them on a line. Bait and scents are illegal.

Fishing is open until an hour after sunset.

WDFW is also requiring that sockeye with one or more holes (round, approximately 1/4″ in diameter) punched in the tail of the fish (caudal fin) be released.  These fish are part of a study and have been anesthetized; the FDA requires a 21 day ban on consumption of these fish.

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