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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

July 24, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Lowering Lake Washington sockeye spawning goal still up for debate

SOCKEYE_SEASON

(Lake Washington was jammed with boats when it was last open for sockeye in 2006.)

The Lake Washington sockeye saga continues, and lowering the spawning escapement goal to somewhere around 200,000 remains one of the top questions up for debate.

“The numbers for both Baker Lake and Lake Washington sockeye have started to drop,” said Pat Pattillo, the state Fish and Wildlife salmon policy coordinator. “We’ve had discussions (with director Phil Anderson), and there are still some questions about the proposal to modify the management objectives and no agreement at this time.”

State Fish and Wildlife have discussed 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.

The Lake Washington sockeye run is not rapidly approaching 200,000, Pattillo said, and as of Sunday the count was at 169,858.

“We are not planning on making a change just because of having a fishery this summer,” Pattillo said. “We’d like to resolve it, and put something in place for the next few years like a test drive so to speak.”

“We could take a harvest rate approach, and there are several ways to do that,” he said. “There wasn’t just one proposal and one preference. We’d like a credible decision. We will continue to look at the status of this year’s return.”

It is still not too late to have a possible fishery, although the daily counts have started to drop off and is somewhat unlikely.

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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