OLYMPIA – This summer’s estimated catch of 59,000 Lake Washington sockeye salmon was the largest sport harvest on the lake since 1996.
“It was a good year for Lake Washington sockeye,” said Tim Flint, salmon resource manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “The abundant return of sockeye drew large crowds to the lake and, overall, anglers were pretty successful.”
This year’s Lake Washington sockeye run was estimated at 472,000 salmon. That’s well above the 350,000 fish needed for spawning escapement, leaving a surplus of 122,000 sockeye available for harvest. The surplus – minus about 2,000 salmon for test fisheries – was split between sport anglers and tribal fishers.
Sport anglers made about 63,800 trips on the lake and averaged just below one sockeye (.93) per rod this year. The fishery was open for a total of 18 days – the most days of fishing since 1996, when sport anglers caught about 70,000 sockeye during 23 days of fishing.
The strong return of sockeye stemmed from a combination of good ocean conditions and salmon produced at a temporary hatchery facility on the Cedar River, said Lew Atkins, assistant director for WDFW’s fish program.
“This fishery provides anglers a unique opportunity to catch sockeye salmon in the middle of an urban area,” Atkins said. “And with thousands of anglers participating in the fishery, there’s no doubt it provides a boost to the local economy.”
With the purchase of gear, fuel and other angler essentials, coupled with the ripple effect of those out-of-pocket expenses, WDFW estimates this year’s Lake Washington sockeye fishery provided about $8.6 million in economic benefits to the area.