It looks like the local sockeye returns are arriving later than expected, which is good news, especially for those planning trips to Baker Lake in Whatcom County, open to fishing through Sept. 7.
“We’ve had 400-plus fish counts at the trap in recent days, and the good news is more fish are starting to show up,” said Brett Barkdull, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.
While the numbers have increased at the fish trap on the Baker River — a total of 1,757 — just a little more than 300 sockeye have been transferred into the lake and fishing will likely be on the slow side early on.
“We are still taking broodstock (for spawning goal purposes) and up until we get 750 fish, we won’t be moving more fish into the lake,” Barkdull said. “All indications (like the sockeye abundance test fishery) off Vancouver Island point to the run being late.”
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State fisheries managers believe there will be a fair number of sockeye returning to the Baker, but Barkdull isn’t sure if the 35,377 preseason forecast will be achieved this summer.
“Bottom line is we still don’t know what the final outcome will be, but there are still sockeye in the bay, lower (Skagit) river and off Vancouver Island,” Barkdull said.
“Based on (the Canadian test fishery) results, about 63 percent of the fish caught are Washington-bound, and that is still a high percentage of fish still out there in the marine waters,” Barkdull said. “Everyone is on pins and needles, but I feel a lot better this week than I did last week.”
Last year, only 12,500 sockeye were transferred into the lake and produced a mediocre fishing season. In 2012, 28,400 fish returned and generated one of the best fisheries.
The Columbia River sockeye return is a record at 526,367 (345,900 was the preseason figure), and is expected to reach 560,000. The previous record was 520,959 fish that returned in 2012.
“We have a record, and I think the latest forecast (560,000) is being on the conservative side,” said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. “For whatever reason, it seems like the record for the moment is broken every other year.”
|Marine areas||Very good salmon fishing off the coast with a 1.6 per-rod average at Ilwaco; 1.4 at Westport and La Push; and 0.8 at Neah Bay. Some early tuna trips were made out of Ilwaco and charters found a fair to good number of fish to catch. Fair to good at Sekiu for hatchery king fishing with one fish to two per boat the norm. Fair to good for kings in the San Juan Islands. Hood Canal south of Ayock Point is open for salmon. Northern Puget Sound and Admiralty Inlet are open for coho only, and opens for hatchery kings Wednesday. Crab fishing is open in most areas of Puget Sound and Hood Canal. Slow to fair for hatchery kings in the Tacoma area. Fair at times off the Edmonds Pier for hatchery kings. Excellent beach exposure this week for oyster and clam gathering. Low tides: Thursday, minus-2.1 feet at 9:42 a.m.; Friday, -2.7 at 10:27 a.m.; Saturday, -3.0 at 11:13 a.m.; Sunday, -3.0 at noon; Monday, -2.5 at 12:46 p.m.; and Tuesday, -1.6 at 1:34 p.m. Before heading to a beach, know the rules by checking the regulation pamphlet. Then check the state Fish and Wildlife website at http://wdfw.wa.gov, and their hotline at 866-880-5431 or http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/. State Fish and Wildlife also offers a good interactive shellfish map at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/beaches/. Lastly, call the marine biotoxin hotline at 800-562-5632 or visit the Department of Health website at www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/Shellfish.aspx.|
|Biting: YesRating: ★★★|
|Statewide rivers||The Lower Columbia River below Bonneville Dam is open for sockeye through July 31, and anglers may keep hatchery chinook jack, but must release adult chinook. Fall chinook fishing in the Lower Columbia River opens Aug. 1, including the Buoy 10 area. Fair between the hatcheries in the Cowlitz for summer steelhead. Slow to fair in the Skykomish for summer steelhead. Fair to good for walleye and bass in The Dalles and John Day pools of the Columbia.|
|Biting: YesRating: ★★★|
|Statewide lakes||Outlook is fair to good for trout fishing at Mineral, Depression, Deer,Padden, American, Green and Meridian lakes. Others worth a try for trout are Gissburg, Rapjohn, Blackmans, Campbell, Rattlesnake, Tanwax and Kapowsin. Good at Potholes Reservoir for walleye, bass and trout. Lake Chelan is fairly good for lake trout and kokanee. Fair for cutthroat trout, and perch and bass in Lake Washington. Off and on for kokanee in Stevens, American and Meridian.|
|Biting: YesRating: ★★★|