He didn’t have the absolute latest creel counts right in front of him, but a fisheries manager for the Upper Columbia River says that since July 1 anglers have caught 26,000 sockeye between Priest Rapids Dam and the Okanogan River — a new record.
“Over 20,000 of those have been caught in the Wells Pool,” adds Jeff Korth at the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife’s Ephrata office.
The Wells Pool is also known as the Brewster Pool; the folks who slung the dam across the Columbia call it Lake Pateros.
The driver as ever up here has been Okanogan River water temperatures which rise and form a thermal block in summer, keeping the fish in the cooler Columbia. With early July’s high runoff Korth worried that the block wouldn’t occur, but now with 70-degree water day and night, as many as 70,000 to 90,000 of the salmon are still waiting in the Columbia to make the run up its trib into Canada, he says.
Best fishing has been up until 9 a.m. with some action late in the day, he reports, and that corresponds with the report from reader Tom Maks of Tacoma.
“I fished there all last week with my two girls in the afternoon/evening and it was slow but steady with guaranteed good action from about 7 to 8 p.m. Hooking up doubles with a 3-year-old and a 6-year-old as your entire crew makes even slower days pretty sweet. I went back over for the weekend with my cousin and another guy and we were off the water with our limits both days by 8 a.m.,” Maks says.
Anton Jones of Darrell & Dad’s Guide Service (866-360-1523), filed this report earlier today:
The salmon season in the Brewster Pool is in full swing. For us, it has been good one day and not so good on another. A suggested formula for sockeye would be a big Mack’s Lures Double D Dodger. Then add a 12-inch leader of 30- or 40-pound test mono back to a Mack’s Mini Cha Cha Squidder in pink-and-white. Space the hooks about 2 inches apart. Then bait the hooks with 1-inch chunks of shrimp cured in Pautzke’s Fire Cure. Fish this ensemble about 15 down to start.
“Your fishing tip of the week is to remember to keep those setbacks short in the Brewster Pool. That’s the best way to keep you from tangling with others in that dense fishery. I would recommend no more than 20’ back off the downrigger ball. Strap on a big load of patience and enjoy this delightful if somewhat crowded fishery.”
Jones is a pro-staffer for Mack’s and Pautzke.
As it stands, Korth says the fishery has “exceeded expectations.”
“We’ve already harvested twice as many as ever before. In 2010, we caught 10,000 to 12,000. We’ve doubled that by far,” he says.
He adds that it’s drawn many anglers from the Westside.
The sport allocation for the Upper Columbia is 40,000 sockeye.
“We’ve still got 14,000 we’ll be able to catch. I think we’ve got plenty of fish,” Korth says.
Daily limit is six sockeye. Season remains open from Wells Dam to the Highway 173 bridge at Brewster through Aug. 31, and from the 173 bridge up to Chief Joe Dam through Oct. 15.
This weekend is the big Brewster salmon derby. Last year it took a 33-pound, 8.4-ounce Chinook to win first place. For more details on the 7th Annual Budweiser Lowrance King Salmon Derby, go here.
Elsewhere in North-central Washington, we should know more about a possible Lake Wenatchee sockeye fishery soon.
Korth says that 10,000 have been counted so far at Tumwater Dam, above Leavenworth, and that’s without three or four days of videotaped counts that need to be analyzed.
As ever, managers need 23,000 fish to meet escapement goals and another 2,000 to 3,000 to provide a fishery.
“Probably by the end of the week we’ll know,” says Korth, who adds, “If the counts drop precipitously, we won’t make it.”