According to WDFW, since 2014, only 20 to 33 percent of sockeye that went through the locks turned up in the river.
Earlier this year an agency research scientist said that too few young sockeye are surviving as they rear in Lake Washington before going out to sea, and the runs — not to mention the famed salmon fisheries — could peter out in 20 years or so if nothing’s done.
In June 2017, sportangling advocate Frank Urabeck called for a “token, for old times’ sake” fishery if that year’s run were to reach 100,000 at the locks. It did, but nothing was opened.
The highest counts are 2006’s 418,015, a return helped by ridiculously high at-sea survival of smolts, 50 percent.
That was also the last year we fished the lake for sockeye, an 18-day season that provided an $8.6 million boost for the local economy.
To turn the situation around and hold another fishery would start with increased predator control in the lake for rearing smolts, good ocean conditions, a far stronger return than this year’s and a way to get them around the too-warm ship canal.