OLYMPIA – A three-day recreational fishery for sockeye salmon in Lake Washington is set to begin Saturday, July 29, and last through Monday, July 31, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
After a couple weeks of higher-than-anticipated sockeye counts at the Ballard Locks, state and tribal salmon co-managers met Monday and agreed to update the strength of the Lake Washington sockeye run to about 411,000 salmon. The new sockeye projection, which includes expected returns through August, is well above the spawning escapement goal of 350,000 salmon.
“This summer’s sockeye return to Lake Washington is larger than anticipated and strong enough to allow for an exciting recreational fishery,” said Tim Flint, WDFW salmon resource manager. “This is a one-of-a-kind fishery.”
WDFW Director Jeff Koenings said the Muckleshoot, Suquamish and Tulalip tribes were instrumental in turning a proposed two-and-a-half day sport fishery into a full three-day fishery, in which 34,000 sockeye are expected to be harvested.
“The tribes agreed to forgo nearly 5,000 sockeye from their allowable harvest to accommodate the recreational fishery,” Koenings said. “We really appreciate their help, which reflects the true spirit of co-management.”
Fishing will be allowed from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset. The daily limit is two sockeye, measuring at least 15 inches. All other salmon must be immediately released unharmed. No fishing will be allowed within 100 yards of the floating bridges. Waters within 1,000 feet of the mouth of the Cedar River in Renton also will be closed to all fishing.
Anglers must carry a freshwater or combination fishing license and salmon catch record card. Any salmon that is not released must be immediately recorded on the catch record card. Under freshwater fishing rules, anglers may only fish with one rod and must stop fishing once they have reached their personal daily limit.
In 2004, the last year a recreational sockeye fishery opened on the lake, sport anglers caught 27,600 sockeye during two-and-a-half days of fishing.
Contributing to the harvestable surplus of sockeye this year is the temporary sockeye hatchery facility on the Cedar River. According to WDFW research, hatchery fish accounted for 20-25 percent of the sockeye caught in the 2004 Lake Washington sport fishery.
“The unexpected fishery this year likely would not have been possible without sockeye produced at the current Cedar River hatchery,” said Koenings. “WDFW supports the construction of a larger, permanent Cedar River hatchery that would maintain and improve the consistency of future sockeye returns to Lake Washington without changing the lake’s ecosystem.”
During the fishery Monday afternoon, tribal canoes and their support groups will be landing at Sand Point as part of the 2006 Tribal Canoe Journey. Anglers taking part in the fishery should be courteous to the paddlers and their support boats, and be patient at the boat ramps, Flint said.
Currently, the Muckleshoot Tribe is tagging adult sockeye at the Ballard Locks. Anglers that catch a sockeye equipped with a disk or jaw tag should report the tag number to Eric Warner at (253) 876-3125. Any fish with unnumbered tags should have internal tags in their throat or stomach. Those tags, as well as blue external iButton tags, should be sent to the Muckleshoot Tribe, 39015 172nd Ave. SE, Auburn, 98022.
More information on Lake Washington sockeye salmon can be found at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/sockeye/counts.htm.