News, Sockeye

Washington Sockeye Update – Early July 2017

Disappointing – that is the best way to describe how this year’s sockeye runs are looking.  Out of the four major sockeye runs in the state, only one is exceeding expectations.  Unfortunately, it is one which no recreational fishing is scheduled.

If you are planning on fishing for sockeye this year, be sure to check out the guide for some tips and tricks to put fish in your boat.

Lake Washington

This run is doing quite well compared to the pre-season forecast.  It is already up to 75k out of the 77k forecast.  Based on previous years we have about one week left before we are on the backside of the run.

With what we’ve seen and amount of time left, I wouldn’t be surprised if the run finished at 130k to 150k fish.

Unfortunately, even those numbers will not get us a fishery, since the escapement goal is 350k fish.  But I’m hoping this is the start of a new trend.

Baker Lake

The Baker run is not looking well.  We are just a couple days away from the opener and only have about 500 fish in the lake, with just over 2200 to the fish trap total.

Tribal netting does happen in the river before the fish trap, so with a pre-season forecast of 47k we would expect to see about 23k after netting.

I was planning on going up there to fish a couple days right after it opens, but the way it is looking now I’m not sure it is worth the gas money.

Columbia River

The Columbia is the road for two major sockeye returns – the Okanogan River run and the Wenatchee River run.  The combined estimate if 191,200 fish, with about 70% of those headed for the Okanogan.

Based on historical run timing we are likely already past the peak of the Okanogan run and maybe in the middle of the peak for the Wenatchee run.  However only 75k fish have shown up.  My guess is the actual results may be close to 120k fish.

NOTE: Right after this article was originally published the WDFW has announced a closure for the Columbia River sockeye fishery.

Even though this is disappointing it is still the largest return in the state.  We already have over three times as many fish over Bonneville than we expect at Baker Lake – assuming it’s estimate is met.  If you want to catch sockeye this year then the Columbia river is the place to go.  I suggest the well-known spots like Lake Wenatchee and Brewster pool in Lake Pateros.  Who know you may even catch a king while targeting those sockeye.


It’s hard to stay positive for this year’s sockeye fishing in Washington.  I keep telling myself that there is still time to see it turn out, but time is running out quick.

If you are planning on getting out make sure to check out our sockeye fishing tips.

What are your thoughts about sockeye and the state of the runs?

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