The coho counts at the Ballard Locks fish ladder – the entrance to Lake Washington – continue to climb upwards and are now well above the pre-season forecast.
The larger than anticipated run to Lake Washington has allowed anglers to wet a line for coho beginning Friday (Sept. 16).
The latest count at the Ballard Locks show 12,443 (preseason forecast was 4,414) counted through Wednesday (Sept. 14). The 10-year average from 2004 to 2014 at this point of the run has been 6,085.
Single-day counts have been 358 on Wednesday (Sept. 14); 245 on Tuesday (Sept. 13); 534 on Monday (Sept. 12); 2,077 on Sunday (Sept. 11); and 1,266 on Saturday (Sept. 10).
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State and tribal fishery managers agreed that if more than 10,000 arrived to the lake then fisheries could be possible. Tribal fisheries have also gotten underway below the locks, and is likely the reason why counts at the fish ladder took a dip in recent days.
Sport fishing will be open Friday through Oct. 31north of the Highway 520 Bridge and east of the Montlake Bridge and including a portion of Sammamish River from 68th Avenue N.E. Bridge downstream. Daily limit is two coho, release chinook and sockeye.
In other related news the chinook returns to Lake Washington have also been fairly decent with 9,148 counted at the locks through Wednesday (Sept. 14), which falls just under the cumulative 10-year average of 11,080.
It is possible the coho returns will be better than what was originally forecast earlier this year when the salmon season setting process ran into an unprecedented debate between the state and tribes.
At that time both parties came to a road block on how to shape fishing seasons with what little salmon were expected to return to Puget Sound while conserving weak wild coho and chinook salmon runs listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Those negotiations were the most protracted in history, stretching far deeper into the spring than in the past three decades of such talks.
Salmon fisheries were eventually set and many areas faced closures not seen in order to protect low returns of wild and hatchery coho. The forecast was 255,944 Puget Sound coho compared to a foecast of 891,854 last year.
Salmon anglers venturing into Canadian waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca have also reported an abundance of coho that look very healthy and large in size.