Smolt-To-Adult returns. SARs. The BENCHMARK of Columbia/Snake River basin salmon and steelhead recovery. And in recent years the SARs benchmark – tagged, tracked fish-- is screaming bad news for Snake River salmon and steelhead. Bringing these fish back from the brink as the regional climate warms requires urgency.
Since at least 2011, biologists have trapped chinook and sockeye salmon and summer steelhead at Pelton Dam on the Deschutes River and transported the fish upstream to Lake Billy Chinook for spawning in an effort to reintroduce the fish upstream of the dam.
Spring chinook salmon fishing is nearly over and summer chinook fishing begins next week. Although it may be difficult to see much of a difference between a spring and a summer chinook at Bonneville Dam, June 16 is the transition date on which all chinook that pass the dam become summer chinook.
Chum salmon, now listed as threatened, once returned to the Columbia River in huge numbers, with half a million to a million fish every year spawning in tributaries from near the river’s mouth and as far up the river as Celilo Falls, which was inundated when The Dalles Dam was built just downstream.
Tule and bright fall chinook salmon in 2020 spawned in large numbers downstream of the site where PacifiCorp’s Condit Dam stood on the White Salmon River. But after nearly 10 years since the dam was breached, none spawned upstream of the old dam site, according to the preliminary findings in a recent report by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Oregon and Washington fisheries managers are adding one more day of hatchery spring chinook angling downstream of Bonneville Dam and two days upstream of the dam to the states’ border, all over the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
Even with a Skamania hatchery steelhead return at its lowest since Bonneville Dam was built and Cowlitz River hatchery spring chinook salmon unlikely to meet broodstock needs, the two state Columbia River Compact this week extended retention of hatchery spring chinook from Tongue Point in Astoria to the Oregon and Washington border.
With declining returns of Pacific lamprey to the Columbia River basin, tribes are turning to artificial propagation, supplementation and translocation to boost lamprey numbers and move the fish back into historic spawning grounds.
Spring Chinook season will open in the Snake River’s Hells Canyon on Saturday, April 24 from the Dug Bar boat ramp to the boundary below Hells Canyon Dam.