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Lake Washington sockeye fishery appears doubtful
By Mark Yuasa

Seattle Times staff reporter

A Lake Washington sockeye fishing season looks doubtful for this summer, and it may be a while before anglers get another chance at this popular urban fishery.

The state Fish and Wildlife preseason forecast calls for 105,575 sockeye to return this summer, which is well below the 350,000 spawning-escapement goal needed before any type of fishery is considered.

"Low ocean marine survival, which hurt us with the 2007 return, could be a factor again this year, based on the low sockeye jack counts last year," said Frank Urabeck, a sport-fishing advocate and member of the Cedar River Council.

The spawning escapement in the Cedar River last year was about 45,000 sockeye, and fewer than 2,000 sockeye were used as hatchery broodstock to produce the 3 million hatchery fry to be released into the lake.

"Even if things turn back to a normal survival rate in the ocean, we won't have any fisheries until we can get up to the 40 to 50 million fry [level]," Urabeck said. "And that is why it is important to have the [proposed] permanent hatchery in place."

The temporary hatchery, operational since 1991, has the capacity to produce 17 million fry, and has done so at least once during that period. The replacement hatchery would have a capacity to produce 34 million fry.

In recent years, 45 million to 50 million wild and hatchery fry from the Cedar River resulted in sufficient adult returns to have fisheries in 1996, 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2006.

"The new hatchery is tied up by federal and state litigation pursued by former King County Department of Natural Resources employee Roz Glasser over the past five years," Urabeck said. "It could take several more years for the litigation to play out."

Urabeck says Glasser and her supporters are opposed to hatchery production on philosophical grounds and do not accept the public benefit of the Lake Washington sockeye fisheries or treaty-mandated tribal harvests.

On the bright side, the City of Seattle expects to have the new broodstock fish weir working by this fall. The fence can capture many more adult sockeye than the temporary facility, which has not been operational at certain times each year due to high water levels.

The successful Lake Washington fishery in 2006 wasn't just the largest catch since 1996, but a big moneymaker for the sport-fishing industry and other related businesses.

In 2006, the sockeye run was estimated at 472,000, leaving a surplus of 122,000 for harvest, of which 59,000 were caught by sport anglers.

The surplus was split between sport and tribal anglers.

Sport anglers made about 63,800 trips and averaged just under one sockeye (0.93) per rod. The fishery was open for 18 days â€" the most days of fishing since 1996, when sport anglers caught about 70,000 sockeye over 23 days.

With the purchase of gear, fuel and other angler essentials, coupled with the ripple effect of those out-of-pocket expenses, state Fish and Wildlife estimates the 2006 sockeye fishery provided about $8.6 million in economic benefits to the area.

"One of the legacies I want to leave for my grandsons and their kids, as well as the people of the Puget Sound region, is a frequent sockeye fishery," Urabeck said. "My best guess is that, assuming ocean and freshwater conditions return to normal, we will not have another fishery until four or five years after the new hatchery is operational."

State Fish and Wildlife will unveil salmon forecasts at 9 a.m. March 4 at the General Administration Building, 11th Avenue and Columbia Street, Olympia.
 

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Man that's a real bummer, we were realy hoping for some sokeye this year. My hope is that the hatchery gets the green light and is up and running before I am un able to walk or fish. Why do they make the red tape so hard to cut?
 

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why would u want the tribe to have a hatchery when the state already wants to put 1 in??? i have never fished this before but it is too bad that 1 person is making it so hard to build this hatchery
 

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lol watch the run be huge like two years ago that year the state said a very low return to. what did they have that year 7 openings lol i bet the tribes can run the hatcherys alot better then this state
 

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I know it's a zoo, but Shinna and I love this fishery. Part of the fun is all the "extra" stuff to watch. We sure were looking forward to a possible season. :cry: Are there any other opportunities for sockey? Would anyone mind sharing if there are?
 

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pmenchaca said:
I know it's a zoo, but Shinna and I love this fishery. Part of the fun is all the "extra" stuff to watch. We sure were looking forward to a possible season. :cry: Are there any other opportunities for sockey? Would anyone mind sharing if there are?
I've never fished it, but I hear Lake Wenatchee has a sockeye season. That may not be an option though with gas at $3.25 a gallon. sick:
 

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fishin musician said:
I've never fished it, but I hear Lake Wenatchee has a sockeye season. That may not be an option though with gas at $3.25 a gallon. sick:
It will probebly be $4.25 by the time the sockeye get to Wenatchee. :evil:
 

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I find this article very interesting and in exact opposites of the article in August that stated an expected return this year of 25percent more then the needed escapement goal. I too think this sounds like downplay of a number as to not look bad if they were wrong 6 months ago in there predictions.
 

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fishin musician said:
pmenchaca said:
I know it's a zoo, but Shinna and I love this fishery. Part of the fun is all the "extra" stuff to watch. We sure were looking forward to a possible season. :cry: Are there any other opportunities for sockey? Would anyone mind sharing if there are?
I've never fished it, but I hear Lake Wenatchee has a sockeye season. That may not be an option though with gas at $3.25 a gallon. sick:
Lake Wenatchee is an exelent fishery. It's like catching Humpies only they're tasty sockeye on a beautiful lake
:D

Here's a couple from 2004
 

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