The early Lake Washington sockeye returns have been coming back fairly strong at the Ballard Locks fish ladder, but what actually becomes of it is up in the air at this point.
“Still way too early to tell,” Mike Mahovlich, a Muckleshoot tribal biologist said in an email. “Traditionally (last three yearly cycles 1998, 2002 and 2006) this brood year can be later than the normal timing.”
“I guess time will tell,” Mahovlich said. “Anything over six figures (123,600 is the preseason forecast) will be good news as far as getting out of this poor survival trend that we have experienced over the last three years.”
Through June 27, 27,449 sockeye have been counted at the Ballard Locks, and the single-day count that same day was a decent count of 5,016.
Only 22,166 adult sockeye returned to Lake Washington last year, and was the lowest since 1972.
In 2006, the lake hosted a 13-day sport fishery when 458,005 sockeye returned. At least 350,000 are needed for spawning escapement before any type of fishery is allowed. Other times when a fishery occurred was 2000, 2002 and 2004.