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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

June 20, 2013 at 11:53 AM

Lake Washington sockeye returns remain strong as inseason total hits 24,089

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(People viewing sockeye returning through the Ballard Locks at the fish viewing window. Photo by Seattle Times/Alan Berner.)

The Lake Washington sockeye single-day counts at the Ballard Lock fish ladder remain robust, and still well ahead of the figures since 2005 and more than three times as large as the 2006 run which was the last time a sport fishery was held in the large urban watershed.

Through Wednesday, June 19, 24,089 sockeye have been counted that are headed for tributaries such as the Cedar River and other smaller creeks in Lake Washington.

That means in just the first eight days of counting more than a quarter of the preseason forecast of 96,866 have already returned to the lake. Last summer’s return of 145,815 waxed the preseason forecast of 45,871, and more than 20-million fry were released into the lake earlier this spring.

While this summer’s forecast falls well short of the 350,000 spawning escapement needed before any fisheries can be considered it still looks like at this point to much stronger than expected, and many are still holding their breath on the final outcome in a run that usually peaks by around early- to mid-July. That is when about 50 percent of the return has passed through the Locks, and it is usually around this time when fisheries co-managers will update the run size.

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; June 16, 3,081; June 17, 3,603; June 18, 3,851; and by Wednesday, June 19 it jumped to 4,638. It about the third week of June when sockeye counts usually begin to increase dramatically.

Just to compare, here are the cumulative totals of counting from past years:

2006: 247, 803, 1,217, 1,975, 2,606, 3,179, 4,656 and 6,623 (453,543 was the final season total).

2007: 412, 892, 1,343, 2,058, 2,907, 3,467, 4,302 and 6,595 (69,271 was the final season total).

2008: 236, 570, 894, 1,411, 1,774, 2,173, 2,785 and 3,653 (33,702 was the final season total).

2009: 299, 825, 1,322, 1,797, 2,425, 2,880, 3,520 and 3,931 (22,166 was the final season total).

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(Photo of children viewing sockeye and chinook salmon returning to the Ballard Locks fish ladder in the fish viewing window in 2009. Photo by Seattle Times/Steve Ringman.)

2010: 625, 1,027, 1,673, 2,342, 3,296, 4,914, 5,531 and 6,756 (161,417 was the final season total).

2011: 304, 563, 866, 1,218, 1,866, 2,512, 3,134 and 3,452 (43,724 was the final season total).

2012: 1,633, 2,320, 2,852, 5,035, 8,097, 9,821, 11,337 and 13,577 (145,815 was the final season total).

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.

 

 

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