Sockeye season opening at Lake Wenatchee

Wednesday marks second opener in two years for rare season

Gather up the bare red or black hooks and chrome dodgers, and make plans to fish Lake Wenatchee for sockeye salmon.

The fishery, which will be open for the second consecutive summer, will get under way Aug. 5 one hour before official sunrise that day, and will close once the harvestable number of fish have been caught.

The return is expected to exceed the 23,000 sockeye needed for spawning escapement, and additional fish will be present to provide for sport fishing opportunity. The run is predicted to be robust this summer.

The daily limit per angler is two sockeye of 12 inches or longer. Only single pointed barbless hooks are required. No more than three hooks may be used on one line. No bait or scent may be attached to the hooks. Knotless nets are required.

A night closure will be in effect. Legal fishing hours each day are one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset. Bull trout, steelhead and chinook must be released without removing them from the water.

Also release sockeye with one or more holes (round, approximately ¼-inch in diameter) punched in the tail of the fish (caudal fin). These fish are part of a study and have been anesthetized; the FDA requires a 21 day ban on consumption of these fish.

In other West Side salmon fishing news, the Strait of Juan de Fuca around the Sekiu area has picked up again for king fishing.

“This past Sunday was probably the best king bite of the year at Sekiu, and we’ve had some pretty good fishing Monday and Tuesday,” said Larry Bennett, the head state Fish and Wildlife creel sampler in the Strait area. “The silvers are bigger and I saw one hatchery fish that weighed 12 pounds, and we’ve seen more pinks.”

Bennett said on group of three anglers went out Sunday morning and were back by 7 a.m. with six hatchery chinook between 12 and 27 pounds. Most anglers were fishing between Slip Point bell buoy and points east of there, including down by the Preacher’s House as well as the Caves.

Ocean salmon fisheries are hot for coho.

“It is basically limit fishing at Ilwaco where the charters are returning back to the docks really early full of fish,” said Wendy Beeghly, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. “It is almost all coho and some pretty nice sized ones. The average is 7 pounds, but it is not uncommon to see larger ones.”

Just up north at Westport, anglers were averaging 1.4 fish per rod, and still seeing some pretty big coho up to 8 and 9 pounds and kings up to 38 pounds.

At Neah Bay, anglers averaged 1.0 fish per rod, and almost all the catch was coho and pinks, but those targeting kings were doing good. At La Push, it was 1.5 fish per rod, mostly coho along with a few pinks.

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