the film

First Redfish Lake Sockeye Salmon
Return to Sawtooth Valley

by Staff
Idaho Statesman, July 24, 2009

Idaho's Governor Cecil Andrus releases adult Sockeye into Redfish Lake, Idaho in 1994.  This was the first such adult release and which was forced upon the federal government by the Shoshone-Bannock Idaho Fish and Game officials reported the first Redfish Lake sockeye salmon of 2009 returned to the Sawtooth Valley on Thursday.

Two female sockeye salmon were captured in the trapping facility located on Redfish Lake Creek. The two fish are the first to return from the largest run in decades across Lower Granite Dam downstream from Lewiston.

The total sockeye run over Lower Granite through Thursday was 1,157. It's the largest run of sockeye since dam counting began there in 1975. All those fish are headed toward Idaho, but all are not likely complete the journey.

The fish were about 22.5 inches in length and weighed 3.85 pounds each. Fin clips on the adults indicate that these two are likely 4-year-old adults from a release group that migrated from the Sawtooth Valley in the spring of 2007.

Juvenile sockeye salmon that leave Idaho swim about 900 miles to the Pacific Ocean and usually spend two to three years in the ocean. Adult sockeye begin their upstream migration to Idaho in the spring, typically arriving in the Sawtooth Valley in late July through early September.

The Redfish Lake sockeye stock is unique to the Pacific Northwest. They are the farthest-migrating sockeye salmon at more than 900 river miles, traveling to an area that is the highest in elevation (6,500 feet above sea-level), as well as being the southern-most spawning population of sockeye salmon in North America.

First Redfish Lake Sockeye Salmon Return to Sawtooth Valley
Idaho Statesman, July 24, 2009

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