Robert and Roger Rettig hold the three sockeye salmon (4-7 lbs.) that they caught at daybreak last Friday on the north end of Lake Washington. They were fishing at 88 feet with flashers and bare hooks.
by Andrew Walgamott
The Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) extended the surprise recreational sockeye salmon fishing season for four days ending today on Lake Washington with an angler limit of two fish a day.
An estimate by biologists of 490,000 fish eventually passing through the Ballard Locks spurred the DFW's decision. DFW officials will look at fish catch data and run estimates to consider whether or not to reopen the lake again.
"350,000 sockeye must be allowed to spawn to provide maximum future sustainable harvests," said DFW officials. That leaves anglers and tribal netters a 140,000 fish catch to be split evenly.
Erica Mantle of Sportee's in Redmond said that bare red hooks, herring dodgers, and U-20 flat fish have been their top sellers. A clerk at The Fisherman in Bellevue said tackle sales had risen to 90 percent above normal while selling twice as many fishing licenses.
This is the first sockeye season on Lake Washington in eight years and officials are unsure of the reasons for such a strong return. Jeff Weathersby of the DFW indicated that modifications at the Ballard Locks had allowed for a better escapement rate for juvenile salmon on their way to the ocean.
The sockeye will stay in Lake Washington until September, when their skin will turn a characteristic bright red and then move up the rivers to spawn and then die as part of their normal life cycle.
For information, call 360-902-2200.