Sockeye Returns Reach New High
by Jason Kauffman
Idaho Mountain Express, August 15, 2008
263 sockeye have reached Sawtooth Valley this summer
A total of 263 sockeye salmon have arrived so far at the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery along the upper Salmon River north of Ketchum, fisheries officials reported today. The total sockeye numbers have now officially surpassed the next highest return in recent decades, when 257 of the famous red fish made their way back to the Sawtooth Valley in 2000. This summer's run is the now the highest run of sockeye since biologists started tracking those arriving in the Sawtooth Valley in 1985.
In recent years, returns of sockeye have varied wildly in the upper Salmon River. Anadromous fish must cross eight major dams on the Columbia River and lower Snake River before they reach Idaho.
Hundreds of miles downriver from the Sawtooth Valley on Thursday, a total of 871 adult sockeye salmon had passed by the Lower Granite Dam, the last barrier on the lower Snake River in southeast Washington that anadromous fish must pass before entering Idaho. Depending on how many of these fish return to the Sawtooth Valley, the destination for all Snake River sockeye, fisheries biologists with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game believe the Sawtooth hatchery could see up to 400 to 700 fish when the run is complete.
Such a run this summer would be a remarkable improvement above mostly dismal single-digit or nonexistent sockeye returns to Redfish Lake during the past several decades. In all, just 352 wild and hatchery-origin sockeye have migrated back to the Redfish Lake area since 1985, Fish and Game information indicates.
Fisheries biologists say this year's surprisingly good numbers of returning sockeye is likely due to good smolt production four years ago, good out-migration conditions in the rivers and excellent ocean conditions. The run coming up the Snake River into Idaho is just a fraction of a much larger run that's headed up the Columbia River system that in recent counts have numbered just under 214,000 fish.
F&G Management Plans Helping in the Sockeye Recovery by Cal Groen, Idaho Statesman, 8/12/8
Don't Equate Strong Sockeye Return with Recovery by Rocky Barker, Idaho Statesman, 8/10/8
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