Sockeye 2000!

by Mike Carey, July 12, 2000

Lake Washington Sockeye Season For 2000

WDFW announced we will have a year 2000 sockeye fishery on Lake Washington. There will be a two fish, minimum size 15" daily limit. There are also certain closed closed days.

Reader's Sockeye-related fishing comments and advice:

July 25th: Sockeye 2001? Click Here to read the latest WDFW press release for next year's prospects.

July 17th: With the season over, it's time to enjoy the memories! I've posted my fishing pictures to They can be accessed via the Reader's Pictures section of this web page. Hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed making them! Cross your fingers for a rebound on the fish counts and maybe we can get another couple days fishing later in the month. Mike

July 10th: Ballard Locks sockeye count at 322,277. Netting starts July 10-11 and 12-13 from noon to noon. No sport fishing during that time.

July 6th:

First, in today's Seattle Times is a front page photo and caption that says the new sockeye run estimate is 700,000 fish. I checked the WDFW to confirm this and didn't find anything, so I don't know what the Time's source is. I did check the run totals and as of July 5th it was 280,668 fish through the locks. So we are going to have a killer season. A word of warning, better get those punch cards filled out when you catch the fish. Click Here for a WDFW article on tickets being issued. It doesn't mention what to code the area or sockeye as, but I think if you write "Lake Washington" and code "sockeye" you will be OK. Mike

July 5th:

First reports coming in. Check Lake Washington reports page for the latest reports.

July 4th:

Early TV reports had anglers returning with easy limits. I drove on the I-90 bridge and the lake is jammed with boats as expected. It didn't seem like quite as many as four years ago. Mike, Editor

From Jeff Whitehead:

I just read your article on your web site, the only thing that I would add is to keep the downrigger balls and gear about 5 - 10 feet above the school that you are marking on the finder, I have heard that you will scatter the school if you run the ball right through them and will not get as many biters. I used this tactic last time also. We caught them from 45' to 90' ft last time.
Tight lines and good luck

We last had a sockeye season in 1996, the first year I began doing this web page. Click Here for the reports from that special season. You'll be able to read just how hot this fishery was, and why you need to get your gear ready NOW, as well as what worked for me that year.

Here are the techniques we used to catch these fish in 1996. I have no qualms about posting them because I truly believe that this site is for the benefit of sport fishers and that if we are not afraid to share our secrets we will all be better off for it. #1 Fish deep. Every fish I saw caught has been off of boats with downriggers. If you don't have a downrigger, don't be afraid to let out a lot of line. By 7am I think you should be at least 65ft deep. Other anglers I've talked to have also hit the fish deep, some down to 90 ft.
#2 Troll slow, but not too slow! I've seen some people going so slow they are almost drifting. We were trolling about 1 1/2 mph. You've got to go fast enough that you cover some water to find the schools.
#3 Our rig was a dodger, 0 and 00 size, and about 18" of line to a black 3/0 gamakatsu hook.
#4 When you get a fish, go back and cover the area again, these fish seem to be in schools and are not loners. Don't just keep trolling, circle back. These tips should work to help you get into some fish. Above all, be ready for the 8am bite which seemed to be very dependable four years ago.

A few last words... according to my fishing reports from 1996, the fishing got better as the season stretched into August. If the estimates of this season's run are correct, we should be able to fish into August again. What that means is that you don't have to rush out on July 4th with the other thousands of anglers (unless you just can't wait!). If it happens the same as last time, after a couple weeks most of the newbies will have gone back to other summer activities, leaving the lake to us die hard fisherpersons. July 4th will be a total zoo, as will the first weekend. Expect long lines and no place to park your rig. Expect a lot of boaters who have no idea how to troll in a crowded fishery. Expect boats with hundreds of feet of line dragging behind their boat. Expect to be cut off and have every form of rudeness and ignorance displayed. Also expect some of the greatest Lake Washington fishing you will ever experience. These fish are hotrods and will run your line out and jump for the heavens. Let the Sockeye Season begin!


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