Salmon numbers down but still too early to say it's significant

Salmon runs are down but officials say it is too earlier to say why.

“We do the best we can to predict abundance,” said Peter Dygert, branch chief of salmon management for the National Marine Fisheries Service. “The shortfalls are unfortunate but I don’t think they are beyond the range of expectations given populations rise and fall naturally.”

This year 79,500 spring-summer chinook returned to Idaho, 71 percent fewer than forecast earlier this year and less than the 90,844 that returned in 2011.

But in the last decade the returns have ranged from as low as 29,892 in 2006 to the 123,000 that returned in 2010.

Sockeye numbers are down but the red fish are still coming back to the Sawtooth Valley and Redfish Lake. By the end of last week 218 sockeye had returned. Since 2008, more than 650 sockeye have returned annually to the Sawtooth Valley, peaking in 2010 with 1,355

Steelhead and fall chinook are in the middle of their runs and Fish and Game is predicting fewer will return than they anticipated, based on downriver dams counts. They are especially concerned about the larger, so-called B-run steelhead that mostly return to the Clearwater.

bye bye

Catch and release- 100%.


That's not exactly what I've heard. I'll still be on the Clearwater looking for a huge B run or 2.

The jack counts are most worrisome

If you look at counts of spring and summer chinook jacks that passed Bonneville or Lower Granite on the site you will see that it was about a third of the ten-year average. Those counts are partially used to predict the runs for the following year. That's not a good sign.

Also, ocean conditions have been above average for years

By definition, you can't always be above average for long. The ocean conditions have helped salmon returns for several years but it can't last. There will be declines and the good fortune that Idaho fish have seen may all be lost very quickly if something drastic is not done soon. The dams need to be removed while there are still good numbers of fish to replenish runs when things inevitably start getting lean.

Expanding on your info a bit...

and thanks for the spring chinook numbers, Rocky. To review other Idaho salmon returns this year, summer chinook returns are only about 30% - a 70% drop from last year. Sockeye counts dropped about 70% from 2011 to 2012 (1150 returned to the Stanley Basin last year, this year IDFG is hoping for 300).

Steelhead numbers don't look good - about half as many at this point, compared to last year - although the final count isn't yet complete.

Those who might claim that Idaho salmon populations are "recovered" will be disappointed in this trend; and if this year's jack count means anything, next year could be worse. The federal gov't will have to do more to comply with law and treaty.

it's the subsidized dams.

The only thing that has worked to bring numbers up is to attempt to turn the lower Snake and Columbia back into a river again with large flushes of water. Everything else is just smoke and mirrors. We need to get rid of a few dams. Lewiston will lose the twenty jobs they've gained from the port. But more fish and more transportation by rail and truck will create other jobs elsewhere. BPA is facing a 2 BILLION dollar repair on the John Day dam alone. That's two billion not two million. It's time to throw the towel in and bring the fish back to Idaho.

Before dams

They use to have tug & barge traffic on the Columbia river before the dams were in place. There was a show on PBS once called "Sagebrush Sailors"

They got online and booked a cheaper spawning ground.


You fry wants with that?

Remove the upper dams

Plenty of evidence to remove the dams