Time to break out the red hooks as the highly popular late-summer Lake Wenatchee sockeye fishery opens this Wednesday Leave a reply

Aug 02, 2021 by Mark Yuasa
Lake Wenatchee may look quiet in this picture courtesy of Dave Graybill, but don’t expect that when it opens for sockeye fishing on Wednesday (Aug. 4).

By Mark Yuasa

Start getting the sockeye rigs in order and be ready for long lines at the Wenatchee State Park boat launch!

The sockeye run into Lake Wenatchee has waxed expectations, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will open a conservative fishing season beginning this Wednesday (Aug. 4) with a lower catch limit of two sockeye per angler daily (down from four sockeye in 2020).

The spawning escapement goal is 23,000 sockeye although there’s a buffer of extra fish above that goal needed in order to open a fishing season.

As of July 26, the fish count at Tumwater Dam was 26,943, but more sockeye arrived since then allowing WDFW to give it the “green light.”

The Wenatchee River sockeye forecast is 27,300 in 2021 with an in-season projection of 29,000, compared to 39,400 in 2020. This provides an estimated 6,000 sockeye available to catch above the natural spawning escapement goal. 

Sockeye returns had been poor in 2019 and 2018, and last year was the first time the lake had been open since 2017.

The sockeye single-day counts at Tumwater Dam just below Lake Wenatchee were 852 on July 26; 841 on July 25; 1,018 on July 24; 893 on July 23; 552 on July 22; and 5,499 on July 19.

Anglers can hit the lake located in Chelan County beginning one hour before official sunrise on Wednesday (Aug. 4) and fishing is open until further notice. It will be monitored closely and may close on short notice depending on angler participation and harvest rates.  

The lake itself is fine and has a good water temperature despite the extended heatwave, and the sockeye are in good condition, and should be on the “bite” when fishing opens.

The daily limit is two sockeye per angler with a minimum size of 12 inches. Selective gear rules (up to three single-point barbless hooks per line, no bait or scent allowed, and knotless nets required) are in effect.

Anglers may fish with two poles if they possess a valid two-pole endorsement.  A night closure will be in effect. Legal angling hours are one hour before official sunrise to one hour after official sunset.

Bull trout, steelhead, and chinook salmon must be released unharmed without removing the fish from the water.

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