News, Sockeye

Washington Sockeye Update – Late June 2017

Many people, including myself, really enjoy fishing for sockeye.  These fish are tasty and usually show up in better numbers than several other salmon species.

For the 4 major sockeye runs we are in a nice position where each gets in season counts, so we can see how the run is shaping up.

If you are new to sockeye fishing, or just looking for a new tip, check out the page dedicated to fishing for these fish.

Lake Washington

The estimate for sockeye returning to Lake Washington this year is 77, 292 fish.  This may sound like a lot, but the escapement goal is 350k, so chances of a fishery this year are pretty much null – even if the return is double the estimate.

That said this run is looking great.  As of June 27th move 38k fish have gone through Ballard Locks.  This means the run is on-track to soundly beat both the 5 year and 10 year averages.  Hopefully this is a start of a trend and means a fishery in future years.

Baker Lake

Baker Lake has an estimate of 47k fish, however this fish have a lot of demands on them before they reach the lake where most people fish for them.  The tribes take their share in the saltwater and river, the Baker Lake Hatchery needs it fish, and lately additional fish are being used to jump start the sockeye hatchery at Lake Cushman.

So – assuming the estimate is met – the number of fish to make it to the lake will be much lower, say about 18k – 20k.

Unfortunately, as of June 28th only 730 fish have made it to the fish trap on the Baker river.  This is significantly behind where the run is for most years, and might be a repeat of 2014 which left many anglers disappointed.

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.

The estimate was already down from what we’ve seen in the last 5 years, the reality is even more troubling.  As of June 28th only 54k have gone over Bonneville Dam.  That is concerning, since we are past the historical peak for the Okanogan run.

There normally is a second spike in the run during the first week of July as the Wenatchee run spikes, so there is still some hope for that run.


I’m trying to say positive, but this is not looking like a great year for Washington State sockeye fishing.  If you are planning on getting out make sure to check out our sockeye fishing tips.

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

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