The uppermost of two reservoirs taming the Baker River, spectacular Baker Lake is one of the premier destination camping and fishing lakes in Western Washington. Known primarily for its obliging kokanee, Baker also offers some challenging opportunities for catch and release on Dolly Varden and is reputed to still have some deep-dwelling chinook salmon and sleek summer-run steelhead. Fishing from the shore is most profitable on the south side of the dam. Unlike many lowland lakes, you can chum here.
Season: Fourth Saturday in April to Oct. 31.
Angler amenities: Old Tarr's Resort at the north end is now owned and operated by Puget Sound Energy. Considerable improvements have been made to the launch ramp. Dock space and some sundries are available as well as improved camp spaces.
Surface area: 3,316 acres.
Reported level: As of April 24 Baker was at 686 feet above sea level, about 36 feet below full pool.
In the catch: Kokanee, juvenile steelhead, Dolly Varden, rainbow trout with chinook salmon.
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.
Boat launch: Depending on the lake level, Baker's launches can be a little rough at the first of the season, especially at West Pass and Horseshoe Cove, two of the more heavily used launches. The PSE ramp at the resort may be the best bet for larger trailered boats at the upper end of the lake. Baker is still well below full pool but should fill quickly this spring.
Getting there: Drive east on Highway 20 from Interstate 5 to Birdsview. Turn left on Baker Lake Road and continue north for 16 miles. The first Baker Lake access road goes down to the dam. There also are accesses at Horseshoe Cove, Panorama Point, the resort, Scott Flats and Shannon Creek.