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2017 Snake River Sockeye Return To Lower Snake Dams Nearly Complete, Passage Numbers Low
Posted on Friday, July 28, 2017 (PST)

Based on historical passage timing, the run of endangered Snake River sockeye salmon through the lower Snake River dams is nearly complete, according to Russ Kiefer of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.


However, just a few of the fish have been seen in the lower Salmon River and none have reached as far as the Sawtooth Basin, their final stop and spawning grounds.


As of this week, passage at Ice Harbor Dam, the lowest of the four dams, is generally 97 to 98 percent complete, while passage at the upper dam, Lower Granite, is typically 80 to 90 percent complete, Kiefer said at the July 26 interagency Technical Management Team meeting.


With a total fish run estimate this year of just 401 fish, by July 25 some 225 fish had passed Lower Granite Dam. The Ice Harbor Dam count of 382 likely included some mid-Columbia fish that will eventually turn around and leave the Snake River, Kiefer said.


“We’re on track and toward the end of the (Snake River) sockeye run,” Kiefer said. He called the management of the river for sockeye, particularly with the large turbine out at Dworshak Dam, a success. Snake River sockeye are listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act.


(See CBB, July 21, 2017, “Dworshak’s Largest Turbine Out Another Year; Poses Challenges For Salmon Management,”


Last year on the same date, some 877 sockeye had passed Ice Harbor and the 10-year average is 890. For Lower Granite Dam, the count last year was 767 and the 10-year average is 957.


The run of sockeye was downgraded last week by the US v Oregon Technical Advisory Committee to 88,200 fish as measured at the Columbia River mouth. The preseason forecast was 198,500 sockeye, with 1,400 of those fish thought to be Snake River sockeye listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act. TAC had previously downgraded the run to 90,400 fish. The latest run size estimate of 401 Snake River sockeye is based on TAC’s final run size of 88,200 fish.


Some 87,069 sockeye had crossed Bonneville Dam as of July 25, but the daily passage is falling quickly, with 173 fish passing the dam on July 20, but just 85 on July 25. Last year on the same date, 339,935 sockeye had passed and the 10-year average is 314,167.


“The only concerning issue is the conversion rate between Bonneville and The Dalles dams,” Kiefer said, adding that just 76 percent of the fish that passed Bonneville Dam also made it past The Dalles Dam. The average is an 84 percent conversion rate, he said.


Some 63,494 sockeye had passed The Dalles Dam as of July 25. The count last year was 286,307 and the 10-year average is 267,502.


Some 57,602 sockeye had passed McNary Dam, a conversion rate from The Dalles of about 91 percent. Last some 287,368 fish had passed and the 10-year average is 258,170.


Also see:


-- CBB, July 21, 2017, “Summer Chinook, Sockeye Runs Downgraded; Treaty Commercial Fishery Extended,”


--CBB, July 14, 2017, “Harvest Managers Approve More Tribal Fishing, Concerns Expressed Over Low Sockeye, Summer Steelhead,”



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