SEATTLE– There could be a sockeye fishery again next year on Lake Washington, according to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) resource managers who say that favorable conditions which allowed a fishery this year may repeat themselves in 2001.
Hatchery production, fish passage improvements at the Ballard Locks and better ocean conditions combined to make the sockeye fishery possible for the first time in four years.
All these factors, along with strong sockeye fry survival in 1998, raise the chance of a fishery next season.
"Until adult fish begin returning next year we won't know for sure, but conditions look favorable for a repeat of this year's activity," said Bob Gibbons, a WDFW fish manager.
This year's return of adult sockeye salmon to the lake system was strong enough to create a surplus of 125,000 fish, allocated between sport anglers and commercial tribal fishers. That surplus was above the 350,000 fish escapement goal, the number which needed to escape harvest in order to spawn and perpetuate the run.
In 13 days, from July 4 through 16, sport anglers caught 62,500 fish in an estimated 77,400 trips.
This year's healthy return of sockeye adults stemmed from a large escapement of parent stock in 1996.
In addition, production of hatchery fish from the Landsburg Supplementation Facility on the Cedar River, contributed significantly to the return. Up tot one-third of the run is believed to have originated from the facility, which is funded by the City of Seattle.
Catch rates were among the highest on record for the fishery, averaging 1.2 fish per angler on the opening, and tapering off to .7 by the last day of fishing. Thousands of boat anglers used city and county boat launch facilities and WDFW water access sites on the lake.
"The success of this year's fishery, which was enjoyed by thousands of anglers, was due to close coordination between the tribes, WDFW, the National Marine Fisheries Service, King County and the City of Seattle," said WDFW Director Jeff Koenings.
For more information see the Lake Washington 2000 site.