Baker Lake Sockeye derby

A Skagit River sockeye salmon is weighed in July 2019 at the Sockeye Salmon Derby at Baker Lake.

SEDRO-WOOLLEY — There will be no fishing for sockeye salmon this season on the Skagit River.

Fishery managers for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife made the decision to close sockeye fishing on the Skagit beginning Tuesday, June 16, and continuing until July 15 due to low projected returns.

The closure begins at the West Mount Vernon Bridge on West Division Street in Mount Vernon to Gilligan Creek.

With an expected return of as many as 13,242 or as few as 8,056, forecasted returns of wild Skagit sockeye are the lowest encountered in the last five years, potentially falling below even fishery manager's broodstock goals.

"Given this forecast, largely as a result of poor ocean conditions, we're taking these steps to ensure we're meeting our commitments to conservation," said Brett Barkdull, a Fish and Widlife biologist.

The river remains open for gamefish fisheries and fishery managers will continue to monitor other area rivers and streams.

What this means for the popular sockeye fishery in Baker Lake is unclear. Runs in the Baker River have been in decline since 2015.

"Assuming this closure helps us to meet our sockeye Skagit River management goals, we'll be prioritizing providing a future harvest opportunity at Baker Lake, something we heard was important to anglers as part of this year's salmon season-setting process," Barkdull said.

Last year, a preseason forecast return of 33,700 sockeye ended up being a run size of 22,400.

Sockeye salmon runs have also declined in both the Columbia and Frazier rivers.

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