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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

July 8, 2013 at 10:45 AM

Lake Washington sockeye return increases to 130,039, and peak timing is this week

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(Sockeye are seen in the viewing windows at the The Ballard Locks)

The Lake Washington sockeye count remains fairly good at the Ballard Locks fish ladder as it nears the peak run timing, and is still waxing figures over the past seven year average at this same time period.

The updated run size of 130,039 sockeye through Sunday, July 7 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 shattered 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 are meeting this week 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 although there has been ongoing talks between state and tribal fisheries managers about lowering the minimum spawning escapement goal in the neighborhood of around 200,000. The recent discussions indicate the alternative management objective has gone from a technical recommendation to a consideration, but whether that means it will change in time for this summer is still up in the air.

In the the ongoing talks there has been issues brought up such as the conservation risk, and if the escapement goal is lowered will that lead to problems not only with wild sockeye but hatchery sockeye returns to the Cedar River watershed.

One tribal ceremonial sockeye fishery was already conducted late last week for about 2,000 sockeye with maximum catch of 5,000 fish between the Suquamish and Muckleshoot tribes, but any other fishing (sport or tribal) beyond that hasn’t been considered yet.

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; July 4, 3,309; July 5, 3,257; July 6, 2,988; and the climbed back up to 6,543 on Sunday, July 7.

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; 81,368; 85,638; 89,605; and 97,431 (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; 33,236; 34,761; 37,117; and 39,459 (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; 22,810; 23,726; 24,223; and 24969  (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; 14,839; 15,494; 16,182; and 16,735 (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; 57,555; 62,012; 72,169; and 79,600 (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; 20,463; 23,824; 25,599; and 26,596 (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; 78,940; 85,072; 93,563; and 99,611 (145,815 was the final season total).

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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