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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

July 10, 2013 at 5:07 PM

State, tribal officials to review Lake Washington sockeye run

photo

(Sockeye in the fish viewing window at The Ballard Locks)

State Fish and Wildlife representatives will meet Thursday (July 11) with Muckleshoot, Suquamish and Tulalip tribal fisheries managers to review the Lake Washington sockeye run.

The group will look at a variety of run-size models from below 200,000 to above that figure. The current spawning escapement goal is 350,000, which has been in place at least three or four decades.

A source close to the situation says as of now the sockeye returns appear to be declining and that it looks like the peak occurred a week ago, but that could still climb or continue in a downward trend.

Part of the discussions is whether or not to make a recommendation on reducing the spawning goal from 350,000 to 200,000.

If that reduction is eventually approved, and if the run continues to move toward and above that 200,000, then a really small fishery could result. State managers call this a step harvest rate approach.

Policy managers could make a fishery consideration within a week, but that is to be discussed in the Thursday meeting.

The general consensus is all co-managers are willing to consider changes in the management goal, but all the specifics haven’t been decided yet. It may be applicable to this summer’s fishing season on the lake.

The question is whether this new policy would be agreed for three or four years, and be a test drive to the change in management as well as working out sticky topics like mitigation and hatchery issues.

“My guesstimate now, based on the latest numbers, is that the final run – adjusted for tribal C&S fisheries below the locks – will come in between 175,000 and 225,000,” said Frank Urabeck, a member of the Cedar River Council and a sport-fishing advocate from Bonney Lake. “Until we know what the co-managers are going to decide on the escapement goal issue, there is no basis for predicting a sport fishery.”

Urabeck says that clearly, under the old formula of 350,000, there would be no thought for a fishery this year.

The updated run size of 138,362 sockeye through Tuesday, July 9, is now a little less than 20,000 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.

The peak return time is between July 4 and July 12.

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; July 7, 6,543; July 8, 3,791; and Wednesday, July 9, 4,532.

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; 97,431; 109,226; and 119,495 (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; 39,459; 40,160; and 42,551 (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; 24,969; 25,568; and 26,187 (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; 16,735; 17,447; and 17,945 (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; 79,600; 82,425; and 86,421 (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; 26,596; 27,460; and 29,131 (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; 99,661; 103,639; and 109,974 (145,815 was the final season total).

Here are the runsize guesstimates from extrapolations based on counts through July 9: 2006, 525,153; 2007, 225,246; 2008, 178,068; 2009, 170,907; 2010, 258,432; 2011, 207,674; and 2012, 183,455.

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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