By Joe Veyera
The yearly tallying of Sockeye salmon is underway at the Ballard Locks, with the counts currently coming in much lower than previous years.
Through June 29, 4,024 Sockeye have made their way through to Lake Washington, considerably lower than last year’s 89,246 through the same number of days, or even the lowest number through that date since 2000 of 11,296, posted in 2009.
The pre-season forecast for the 2014 sockeye return was 167,000, an estimate primarily based on fry production from the spawners in 2009, 2010, and 2011. That would not come anywhere close to the figure of 350,000 necessary to open fishing seasons. The last time Lake Washington was open for sport sockeye fishing was 2006. However, it would still mark the second highest return of sockeye since 2006 if met.
Since 1972, Lake Washington sockeye salmon have been counted as they enter freshwater at the Locks, with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and Muckleshoot Indian Tribe currently conducting the counts cooperatively.
The period from June 12 through the end of July is the standard interval used to determine if there are sufficient sockeye to open fishing seasons.
For more information on the salmon counts, click here.