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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

July 22, 2013 at 11:13 AM

Lake Washington sockeye counts bounce back to 169,858, but a fishery is still up in the air

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The Lake Washington sockeye single-day counts at The Ballard Locks kicked up a notch in the past few days, but a hope for any fishery is still up in the air.

The updated run size for Lake Washington sockeye is 169,858 sockeye through Sunday, July 21. At this same time frame in 2006 the counts were 305,884, which was the last time a sport fishery was held in the large urban watershed. The preseason forecast this summer was 96,866.

Other single-day counts have looked like this since they 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; July 9, 4,532; July 10, 4,748; July 11, 4,130; July 12, 5,607; July 13, 4,191; July 14, 3,159; July 15, 2,112; July 16, 1,287; July 17, 1706; July 18, 697; July 19, 1,461; July 20, 1,311; and July 21, 1,088.

The peak return time is usually between July 4 and July 12. 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 Fish and Wildlife met last week to discuss the next step and review the Lake Washington sockeye run, including looking at possibly lowering the escapement goal to 200,000. The current spawning escapement goal is 350,000, which has been in place at least three or four decades.

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

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.

The earliest time frame to have a possible fishery would be later this month, and it is likely fisheries managers will not make any decisions for at least a week or longer.

Based on the latest numbers — adjusted for tribal C & S fisheries below the locks — the final run could end up between 175,000 and 225,000.

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; 119,495; 129,342; 140,723; 159,262; 178,950; 195,131; 207,443; 223,821; 260,140; 275,077; 286,469; 296,857; and 305,884 (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; 42,551; 43,348; 43,927; 44,617; 45,422; 46,132; 47,846; 49,321; 50,553; 52,054; 52,462; 53,159; and 53,854 (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; 26,187; 27,073; 27,915; 28,479; 28,997; 29,651; 30,438; 30,877; 31,271; 31,582; 31,833; 32,111; and 32,386 (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; 17,945; 18,242; 18,434; 18,688; 18,845; 19,273; 19,734; 19,916; 20,250; 20,396; 20,562; 20,791; and 20,976 (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; 86,421; 89,801; 95,758; 100,530; 108,353; 117,220; 123,651; 128,835; 133,065; 135,684;  137,664; 140,127; and 142,042 (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; 29,131; 30,507; 31,354; 32,291; 33,404; 34,467; 35,235; 35,768; 36,209; 36,744; 37,362; 37,681; and 38,705; (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; 109,974; 113,556; 118,918; 123,548; 125,150; 127,685; 128,896; 129,483; 130,565; 131,901; 133,267; 134,318; and 135,087 (145,815 was the final season total).

The last time Lake Washington was open for sport sockeye fishing in 2006 anglers has 18 days to fish on the water 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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