A 30K Day At The Dam

After a slight dip in the dam count on Tuesday, sockeye poured over Bonneville in record numbers yesterday — 30,374.

That tops the previous high mark by 3,262 fish, a record that’s stood since July of 1955.

Not surprising, though, that it was topped. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday’s counts were the fourth, second and third highest, respectively, on record since dam counts began in 1938.

“Lots more fish yet to come based upon reports in the estuary,” says Joe Hymer, the oft-quoted fisheries biologist in Vancouver.


Yesterday’s tally also brings the total for the year to 164,432, nearly 3.5 times the 10-year average through June 23. The run typically is half over by June 25, according to a fact sheet from WDFW and ODFW out early this afternoon.

The surprising run spike may be due to high water conditions. It’s certainly led to salmon managers to spike the preseason forecast of 125,000; yesterday, Northwest Sportsman learned it had been doubled to 250,000.

“We’re recommending that we open on Saturday” for retention, says Cindy Le Fleur, a Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife Columbia River salmon manger in Vancouver, “but we’ve got to get the results of the meeting first.”

The meeting will be a teleconference with Oregon managers. If they buy into a fishery, the Columbia would open from the Astoria-Megler Bridge up to Priest Rapids Dam. Washington managers in Region 2’s Ephrata office would make the call on opening the river and reservoirs above PRD, she says.

“Sockeye catch is expected to remain well within ESA limits,” the fact sheet says. “The majority of the catch occurs below Bonneville Dam. Bonneville Dam passage will be 50% complete by the proposed retention start date. Staff estimates a total catch of less than 1,200 fish for the proposed season.”

The doubling of the forecast “should also allow the Wenatchee escapement goal of 23,000 to be met,” the sheet says.

The July issue of Northwest Sportsman covers how to catch sox in the Brewster Pool, as well as what’s driving big returns the past few seasons.


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