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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

July 21, 2011 at 10:16 AM

Cle Elum Lake and Cooper Lake has a new maximum size on kokanee

Those planning a fishing trip to Cle Elum Lake and Cooper Lake in Kittitas County will need to be aware of a new maximum size limit of 14 inches total length for retention of kokanee that is now in effect through Oct. 31.

The Yakama Nation and state Fish and Wildlife are continuing the pilot study for reintroduction of anadromous sockeye salmon in the upper Cle Elum Basin that began in 2009.

This year approximately 3,000 adult sockeye salmon trapped at Priest Rapids Dam on the Columbia River have been released into Cle Elum Lake. An additional 500 sockeye have been transported to Cooper Lake near Salmon La Sac.

The outlet of Cooper Lake (Cooper River) flows into the Cle Elum River upstream from Lake Cle Elum.

A percentage of the fish will be released with radio-tags so they can be tracked to understand their pre-spawning behavior and their actions when they migrate into the upper Cle Elum River and upper Cooper River to select spawning habitat later this fall.

Very few, if any, anadromous sockeye will be smaller than 16 inches, and few landlocked kokanee are greater than 12 inches; therefore, a 14-inch size threshold will allow the kokanee fisheries in both lakes to proceed this summer without inadvertently harvesting valuable sockeye dedicated to the reintroduction effort.

The kokanee daily limit in Lake Cle Elum remains the same (16 kokanee, no minimum size); see Page 90 in the 2011-12 sport fishing rules pamphlet. The daily limit for trout (including kokanee) remains five fish in Cooper Lake.

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