Head east for sockeye salmon opportunities

  • Wayne Kruse, Herald Writer
  • Wednesday, August 5, 2009 9:42pm
  • Sports

That pod of sockeye salmon which has been working its way up the Columbia River for a couple of months — a good-sized run termed “robust” by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists — has made its way home and sparked a pair of recreational fishing opportunities on the eastside. One part of the run turned up the Wenatchee River, ran through Tumwater Canyon, and is now available to sport fishermen in Lake Wenatchee, while the other portion went on up the Columbia and then up the Okanogan to Lake Osoyoos.

The Lake Wenatchee season opened Wednesday morning, and while results of the opener were not available at time of writing, anglers were expected to be successful at the get-go. WDFW biologist Jeff Korth in the agency’s Ephrata office said the forecast was for 30,000 adult sockeye to make it to Lake Wenatchee — a large return by historical standards.

“About half those fish are already in the lake,” Korth said, “which means they’re available to fishermen this weekend. The other half, however, is apparently hanging in the Columbia, because the Wenatchee River is pretty warm for this time of year. So fishing early in the lake season may be good but not great, until the rest of those fish decide to move.”

Korth said he expects the season to last at least two weeks, perhaps three or even four weeks, depending on how the run timing works out. The limit is two sockeye per day, release all bull trout, steelhead and chinook, without removing them from the water. Single-point barbless hooks, no bait or scent, and knotless nets required. Release all sockeye with one or more round holes punched in the tail.

The state park launch at the lake’s south end is the ramp of choice, even though most of the fishing is at the north end, off the mouths of the two tributary rivers. There’s a rough launch on the northwest corner, but parking there is extremely limited. Be careful of rocks in the river when leaving the state park ramp, and be aware that substantial wind often develops on Lake Wenatchee, especially in the afternoon.

Standard tackle includes a white or chrome dodger, relatively short leader, and a single or double red, blue or black hook, bare, trolled very slowly on downriggers or a six-ounce crescent sinker, at 20 to 50 feet or so.

The Lake Osoyoos opening — tomorrow through Aug. 30 — is a historic one.

“It’s the first recreational catch and keep sockeye salmon season ever on the Washington portion of Lake Osoyoos, as far as I can determine. And I’ve been over here for 20 years,” Korth said.

The big lake straddles the U.S.-Canada border about three miles north of Oroville, and Korth said the experimental season would hinge at least to a degree on how well anglers could learn to intercept the fish in the bottom end of the lake.

“Our part of the lake is relatively shallow and warm,” Korth said, “so those fish will likely be going through fast, looking for deeper, cooler water.”

There is public access to the lake on both sides, just north of Oroville, he said.


The pink salmon aren’t here yet, according to All Star Charters owner/skipper Gary Krein of Everett, although fishermen are starting to find them around the fringes. The westside Whidbey Island beaches have started putting out a combination of pinks and coho for “surf” fishermen, and trollers down around the shipwreck and on south in Marine Area 10 have landed a few fish. One of the better spots for pinks has been West Beach, just west of Deception Pass, according to Anthon Steen at Holiday Sports in Burlington. The Skagit River humpy run is often a few days earlier than that headed toward rivers farther south, and beach fishermen tossing small pink Buzz Bombs at West Beach have been scoring well for a week now.

A few pinks also are being taken in the Skagit, according to Steen, and the WDFW has opened a short “pre-season season” on the river in response to a request from sponsors of the Mount Vernon derby (see below). Pinks will be legal on the lower Skagit from noon today through the end of the day Sunday, then the “regular” humpy season will open Aug. 16. The opening will run from Gilligan Creek to the Skagit mouth, for two salmon, only one of which can be a chinook.

WDFW creel checks Saturday at the Port of Everett ramp showed a crowd of 612 anglers with 15 chinook, 7 coho and 44 pinks. At Olson’s Resort Sunday, in Sekiu, some 305 fishermen had 51 chinook, 139 coho and 122 pinks.


The Ray Reep Memorial Salmon Derby, sponsored by the Mount Vernon Parks Department, is scheduled for Saturday, with the largest chinook taking a top prize of $2,000. Second place is worth $500, and third, $250, and there will be a hidden weight winner in the pink salmon category of $500. Entry fee is $10; call Holiday Sports at 360-757-4361 for information.

Strait chinook closed

A very successful hatchery chinook season on the Strait of Juan de Fuca this year has resulted in more wild fish being caught and released, with more incidental mortality, than anticipated. As a result, according to WDFW salmon policy coordinator Pat Patillo in Olympia, the chinook season in marine areas 5 and 6 will close today, nine days earlier than scheduled. The season will remain open for pinks and hatchery coho, Patillo said, seven days a week for two salmon plus two additional pinks.

Skagit chinook

This is the last weekend for the lower Skagit chinook season, and it could well be the best producer of the year. Biologist Brett Barkdull said “there are actually quite a few chinook in the river, if fishermen can locate the biters. The tribes did pretty well last week, when the water was up and murky with snow melt, and now that it’s back in good shape, the catch should improve.”

Barkdull said a 42-pounder is still the largest Skagit king he’s seen caught.

Marine area 7

Salmon fishing in the San Juan Islands remains fairly consistent, but not particularly hot. Some nice fish to 30 pounds or so have hit the boards recently, and the more productive areas include Tide Point, Eagle Bluff, Secret Harbor, the Indian Village, and the west side of San Juan Island.

Buoy 10

The Aug. 1 opener on the lower end of the Columbia, arguably the most popular single salmon fishery in the state, proved less than a blue ribbon experience. Some 45 fishermen on Saturday caught 1 chinook; 2 fishermen on Sunday caught 4 coho; and 26 fishermen on Monday caught 8 coho. With the lower Columbia running very low and very warm (74 degrees and 137,000 cfs at Bonneville on Sunday, compared to the long-term average of 70 degrees and 159,000 cfs), both chinook and coho may be hanging off the river.

Nice mac

Anton Jones of Darrell &Dad’s Family Guide Service reported that 14-year old Randy Clark of Marysville caught a hefty 11-pound Mackinaw on Lake Chelan July 30, fishing with brother John (12), friend Roma Chernych (13) of Ukraine, and father, Dale Clark.


Bob Heirman of Snohomish was honored by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife recently, along with four other state residents, as a “Volunteer of the Year” for 2009.

“Our department, perhaps more than any other in state government, relies heavily on volunteers for help inmeeting our objectives,” said Phil Anderson, WDFW interim director. “Fortunately, we have a strong network of support, as evidenced by the people we are honoring this year.”

Heirman is well known in Snohomish County for volunteering his time, money and expertise on projects benefitting fish and wildlife recreation, for more than 50 years. His contributions range from planting fish in lakes and streams, through building fishing docks and conducting salmon derbies, to working to preserve fish and wildlife habitat and public access to outdoor recreation.

Also honored as a “Landowner of the Year” were Karen and Tony Spane, who own a 300-acre dairy farm in the Marshland Diking District near Everett. The Spanes were early supporters of a proposal by the City of Everett to restore a portion of the diking district as chinook salmon habitat, helping others to see the benefits of the project for both salmon and outdoor recreation.

Talk to us

More in Sports

Who’s that frog? A local high school tennis player, that’s who

Arlington tennis player Robbie Balderas worked as AquaSox mascot Webbly this season, and the busy junior also runs a landscaping business.

Mountlake Terrace’s Zaveon Jones is pulled to the ground by a diving Nicholas Mouser of Monroe on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023, at Monroe High School in Monroe, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Swarming Monroe defense keys win over Terrace in Wesco 3A South showdown

The Bearcats slow down the Hawks’ potent ground game, and quarterback Blake Springer tosses three TDs in a 35-10 victory.

Arlington players lift the Stilly Cup in the air after beating Stanwood on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023 in Stanwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Arlington re-claims Stilly Cup after short hiatus, routs Stanwood 42-7

Leyton Martin registers 277 yards, 4 TDs as Eagles notch fifth straight game with at least six TDs.

Marysville Pilchuck’s Christian Van Natta lifts the ball in the air to celebrate a turnover during the game against Marysville Getchell on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Prep football roundup for Friday, Sept. 29

Prep football roundup for Friday, Sept. 29: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report… Continue reading

Marysville Pilchuck’s Dominik Kendrick (9) runs with the ball during a football game between Marysville Pilchuck and Stanwood at Marysville Pilchuck High School in Marysville, Washington on Friday, Sept. 8, 2023. Marysville Pilchuck takes the win, 36-7. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Marysville Pilchuck proud of 4-0 start, but has loftier goals

The Tomahawks aren’t listening to the outside noise, including a No. 1 WIAA RPI ranking, as a tough stretch lies ahead.

Stanwood players react to their coach bringing them the Stilly Cup on Sept. 30, 2022 in Arlington. The Spartans snapped a 12-game losing streak in the rivalry matchup last year. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
4 games to watch in Week 5 of the prep football season

An in-depth look at the best games the area has to offer, plus a full schedule of the local action in Week 5.

Prep roundup for Friday, Sept. 29

Prep roundup for Friday, Sept. 29: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Houston Astros relief pitcher Hector Neris (50) gestures to Seattle Mariners' Julio Rodríguez (44) after striking Rodríguez out to end the sixth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)
MLB investigating Astros pitcher’s alleged use of homophobic slur

The incident occurred during a heated exchange between Houston’s Hector Neris and M’s star Julio Rodriguez on Wednesday night.

Prep roundup for Thursday, Sept. 28

Prep roundup for Thursday, Sept. 28: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Most Read