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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

June 27, 2013 at 12:12 PM

Lake Washington sockeye returns remain strong; quickly approaching preseason forecast

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(Photo by Steve Ringman, Seattle Times staff photographer at The Ballard Locks fish viewing window.)

The Lake Washington sockeye counts began at the Ballard Locks fish ladder just two weeks ago, and it is now knocking on the preseason forecast.

The updated run size of 70,206 sockeye through Wednesday, June 26 is now almost three times as large of the 2006 run during this same time frame, which was the last time a sport fishery was held in the large urban watershed. The preseason forecast is 96,866.

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.

“This is a pretty strong signal, and so its really easy to see why people are getting really excited,” Pat Pattillo, the state Fish and Wildlife salmon policy coordinator said earlier this week. “The interesting this about this fishery is we really don’t need to have to start it right away, and they aren’t going to get lost in the lake. We can have some great fishing right into August, and we might want to take our time in making a decision.”

State and tribal fish managers will likely meet in early July to provide an inseason run size update, and the peak time is between July 4 and July 12. Pattillo says they are being cautious as in past years sockeye returns really drops off after a strong front end of the run.

At this point the forecast falls well short of the 350,000 spawning escapement needed before any fisheries can be considered. Some believe the return this summer will fall between 200,000 and 325,000. The 2010 fry outmigration from the Cedar River was only 17 million, and those would be the adults returning this season.

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; June 19, 4,638; June 20, 2,961; June 21, 3,296; June 22, 10,782; June 23, 12,936; June 24, 4,545; June 25, 6,021; and Wednesday, June 26 it was 5,577.

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; 6,623; 9,660; 12,785; 16,162; 20,840; 24,030; 29,158; and 33,407 (453,543 was the final season total).

2007: 412; 892; 1,343; 2,058; 2,907; 3,467; 4,302; 6,595; 8,390; 9,795; 11,048; 13,013; 15,484; 17,604; and 20,824 (69,271 was the final season total).

2008: 236; 570, 894; 1,411; 1,774; 2,173; 2,785; 3,653; 4,530; 5,437; 6,577; 8,439; 9,752; 11,068; and 11,564 (33,702 was the final season total).

2009: 299; 825; 1,322; 1,797; 2,425; 2,880; 3,520; 3,931; 4,394; 5,064; 6,190; 7,057; 7,686; 8,156 and 8,702 (22,166 was the final season total).

2011: 304; 563; 866; 1,218; 1,866; 2,512; 3,134; 3,452; 4,177; 5,319; 6,297; 7,221; 9,175; 11,011; and 12,531 (43,724 was the final season total).

2012: 1,633; 2,320; 2,852; 5,035; 8,097; 9,821; 11,337; 13,577; 19,999; 23,546; 25,385; 27,628; 31,368; 37,191 and 38,971 (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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