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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

June 17, 2013 at 11:48 AM

Lake Washington sockeye returns still decent with 11,997 counted in first five days

newfish-300x300The Lake Washington sockeye single-day counts at the Ballard Lock fish ladder remain robust, and still well ahead of the figures since 2005.

Through Sunday, June 16, 11,997 sockeye have been counted that are headed for tributaries such as the Cedar River and other smaller creeks in Lake Washington.

“Still looking good for much better than (96,866) preseason forecast,” said Frank Urabeck, a member of the Cedar River Council and sport fishing advocate.

Last summer, 145,815 returned compared to a preseason forecast of 45,871, and more than 20-million fry were released into the lake earlier this spring.

This summer’s forecast falls well short of the 350,000 spawning escapement needed before any fisheries can be considered, but this run has exceeded forecasts in past years.

Only 17 million fry entered Lake Washington from Cedar River in 2010, survivors of which would be four year old adults coming back this summer.

Single-day counts have looked like this since counting began on June 12 it was 2,778; June 13, 2,424; June 14, 1,285; June 15, 2,430; and then on Sunday it climbed to 3,081.

Just to compare, here are the first five days of counting from past years:

2006: 247, 803, 1,217, 1,975, and 2,606 (453,543 was the final season total).

2007: 412, 892, 1,343, 2,058 and 2,907 (69,271 was the final season total).

SOCKEYE_SEASON2008: 236, 570, 894, 1,411 and 1,774 (33,702 was the final season total).

2009: 299, 825, 1,322, 1,797 and 2,425 (22,166 was the final season total).

2010: 625, 1,027, 1,673, 2,342 and 3,296 (161,417 was the final season total).

2011: 304, 563, 866, 1,218 and 1,866 (43,724 was the final season total).

2012: 1,633, 2,320, 2,852, 5,035 and 8,097 (145,815 was the final season total).

Summer fishing in Western Washington’s largest urban watershed is doubtful, but many are hoping these strong returns will boost populations in the near future.

The last time Lake Washington was open for sport sockeye fishing was 2006. Other dates a fishery was held included 2004, 2002, 2000 and 1996.

There have been ongoing talks between state and tribal fisheries managers about lowering the minimum spawning escapement goal. Some would like to see it as low as 150,000 to 200,000.

State fisheries sources have indicated that talks have been active between co-managers.

(Photo courtesy of The Seattle Times)

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