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Will 2010 Steelhead Run Keep Pace?

by Eric Barker
Lewiston Tribune, August 10, 2010

Exactly a year ago tomorrow (Aug. 11 2009) the steelhead run started to make its historic mark at Bonneville Dam. On that day, 18,671 steelhead were counted crossing Bonneville Dam. That was 10,000 more fish than the day before.

And Aug. 11 was followed by daily fish counts of 28,314, 34,053, 25,059, 22,135, 17,553, 16,626, 12,624, 9,134, 15,540, 19,067,16,876, 13,242 and 10,333 before dropping back to four digit daily counts. That is a total of 259,227 steelhead in the span of 14 days. By the end of the year the steelhead count at Bonneville topped 600,000.

This year's steelhead count is ahead of the pace set in 2009. From Jan. 1 to Aug. 9, 169,141 steelhead were counted at Bonneville last year. This year there have been 251,794 steelhead counted at Bonneville.

But without big push in the next few weeks, the 2010 run might not be able to keep pace with last year's fish. Joe Hymer of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said the peak of daily counts generally happens about this time of year. And he said steelhead anglers are having high success in the lower Columbia River indicating there are still a lot of fish to come. That could mean bigger counts in the days ahead. But the daily count of steelhead at Bonneville has yet to hit 10,000 fish.

Hymer said last year's massive counts might be explained, in part, by the peak of the strong run hitting Bonneville just about the time river temperatures were climbing into the low 70s.

"Water temperatures increased fairly quickly and they may have made a charge," he said. "We are tracking above average (this year) whether or not we get into those mega counts we will have to wait and see."

The water at Bonneville is 71 degrees today, compared to 72 degrees on Aug. 11, 2009.

Eric Barker
Will 2010 Steelhead Run Keep Pace?
Lewiston Tribune, August 10, 2010

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