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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

July 5, 2013 at 9:11 AM

Lake Washington sockeye count now totals 117,251, and still increasing day-to-day

photo

(People gather to watch sockeye and chinook salmon to the Ballard Locks fish ladder. Photo by Mark Yuasa.)

The Lake Washington sockeye count continues to climb at the Ballard Locks fish ladder as it nears the peak run timing, and is still well ahead of the past seven year average at this same time period.

The updated run size of 117,251 sockeye through Thursday, July 4 is still more than 30,000 fish ahead 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 this summer was 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.

State and tribal fish managers will meet soon to possibly provide an inseason run size update, and the peak time is between July 4 and July 12.

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; June 26, 5,577; June 27, 4,641; June 28 5,314; June 29, 9,084; June 30, 9,182; July 1, 51,35; July 2, 5,194; July 3 5,185; and then dipped slightly on Thursday, July 4 to 3,309.

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; 33,407; 37,917; 44,168; 53,334; 60,808; 70,016; 75,996; 79,476; and 81,368 (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; 20,824; 22,692; 24,033; 26,148; 27,196; 27, 769; 29,180; 31,516; and 33,236 (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; 11,564; 13,558; 15,509; 16,781; 17,910; 19,012; 19,012; 20,275; 21,443; and 22,810  (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; 8,702; 9,414; 10,279; 11,296; 12,124; 12,933; 13,606; 14,306; and 14,839 (22,166 was the final season total).

2010: 625; 1,027; 1,673; 2,342; 3,296; 4,194; 5,531; 6,756; 8,119; 9,475; 12,679; 15,656; 18,094; 20,616; 22,433; 27,449; 32,012; 36,538; 40,00; 45,518; 48,535; 50,789; and 57,555 (161,417 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; 12,531; 13,794; 14,659; 14,969; 15,217; 15,612; 16,016; 16,913; and 20,463 (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; 38,971; 42,701; 47,781; 50,565; 57,094; 59,036; 63,575; 69,340; and 78,940 (145,815 was the final season total).

Here are extrapolations through Thursday, July 4 based on historical runs last seven years: 2006, 653,579; 2007, 244,376; 2008, 173,244; 2009, 175,146; 2010, 328,713; 2011, 250,534; and 2012, 221,980.

“By guesstimate now for likely final Ballard lock count (based on the above extrapolations) is a in a range between 200,000 and 250,000; of course anything can still happen,” said Frank Urabeck, a member of the Cedar River Council and sport fishing advocate. “It will be close call whether there is a sport fishery.”

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.

The last time Lake Washington was open for sport sockeye fishing was 2006 for 18 days with a return of 458,005 fish, the longest since 1996 when it was open 25 days. Other dates a fishery was held included 2004, 2002, 2000 and 1996.

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