Wenatchee Sockeye Manager Not In Gambling Mood

Sure, the numbers look outlandishly good at downstream dams and the preseason forecast has been doubled — just don’t expect that to translate into an automatic Lake Wenatchee sockeye fishery this summer.

“I’d say at this point it’s unlikely,” says Jeff Korth, WDFW’s regional fishery manager in Ephrata, this afternoon. “I gambled last year and I lost, and I’m not likely to do that again.”

Mathematical formulas based on downstream dam counts pointed to a run of 30,000 and led him to sign off on a fishery at the Chelan County lake last summer. However, only 15,000 actually came back, he says.

The run was also hit with substantial and unexpected” mortality due to very warm river conditions below the lake, forcing managers to close the season after only seven days of fishing.

Korth says that when he and other biologists talked about opening other waters in his region to sockeye fishing late last week, they went “around and around” about Lake Wenatchee, but couldn’t come up with a “for sure” way to predict that system’s run.

He claims there’s a strange inverse relationship with the size of the Okanogan River’s run.

“It’s likely we’ll see over 300,000, but like I say, the larger the run, the smaller the run” back to Lake Wenatchee, Korth says.

He anticipates only 7 or 8 percent of those fish to turn left at the Wenatchee and make for the faux-Bavarian town of Leavenworth, upstream of which is the lake.

“I need 25,000 to open it up any reasonable amount of time,” says Korth.

That number of fish would provide a surplus of 2,000 catchable salmon — a season for which might last a week, he says — and still leave enough in the lake to meet the escapement goal of 23,000.

About the only thing from a management perspective that makes sense any sense to Korth is that the lake opens every four years. Besides last year, it did so in 2008, 2004, 2001 and 1993.

Still, he will be monitoring the count at Tumwater Dam, 24 miles below the lake, and the last gatepost the salmon cross on their journey home.

“If we reach escapement, we’ll still have time to fish on them,” Korth says.

Stay tuned, and in the meantime, hit the upper Columbia’s pools if you want sox, man. Korth reminds us that the daily limit is a whopping six adult salmon.

Only three of those may be Chinook, and only one of those wild.

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2 Responses to “Wenatchee Sockeye Manager Not In Gambling Mood”

  1. Record Sockeye Run Now Forecasted « Northwest Sportsman Says:

    […] As for a Lake Wenatchee fishery, earlier this week, a WDFW manager said he was not in a gambling mood. […]

  2. travis Says:

    NOT IN A GAMBLING Mood, Cant argue with the numbers maybe they should spend a little more time counting and making sure they are getting accurate numbers at Tumwater! The last counter I met looked up about every ten minutes from his book while several fish swam by uncounted last season.

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