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Record Numbers of Wild Sockeye Salmon Return to the Pacific Northwest

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June 28, 2012

Record Numbers of Wild Sockeye Salmon Return to the Pacific Northwest

By Chad Love

2012 is shaping up to be a record year for sockeye salmon in the Pacific northwest as hundreds of thousands of fish are being counted. In fact, some daily salmon counts are higher than counts in past years for the entire season.

From this story on msnbc.com:
Record numbers of a once-waning population of sockeye salmon have been returning to the Northwest's Columbia Basin this summer, with thousands more crossing the river's dams in a single day than the total numbers seen in some previous years.

 

Since Bonneville Dam outside Portland was built in 1938, there have been plenty of times there weren't 38,000 sockeye salmon swimming over the fish ladders in a whole year. But on Monday that many passed the Columbia River dam, and another 41,000 swam over the dam on Wednesday — a rate of nearly 30 a minute. That bought the total so far to 290,000.

According to the story, more than 400,000 salmon are expected to return this year, and what's more, almost all of them are wild salmon, born in the region's rivers instead of a hatchery. Biologists credit favorable ocean conditions and improved habitat in the area's rivers as the reason for the upswing in numbers. Any northwest anglers taking advantage of this banner year?

Comments (8)

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from elkslayer wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

I hope to be able to fish for them at some point in my life but I doubt that Idaho will open a season this year.

In my opinion, if columbia basin salmon are going to recover then they need to close fishing on the main columbia river. Keep all the tributary rivers open, but we need to allow the salmon (chinook, silvers and sockeye) to make it to their home rivers. Controversial for a number of reasons both economical and recreational, and I don't believe that it will ever happen.

I don't know of any studies that give reliable numbers but I suspect that a large number of salmon headed to fisheries and spawning grounds in Idaho are caught and killed in Washington and Oregon before they ever reach Idaho.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

elkslayer "fishing" sport fishing?..How about tribal netting? I caught a lot of them in Lake WA. until they quickly close the season because of the huge amounts that are netted by the tribe. No dug out canoes used.. a big commercial trawler.

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from elkslayer wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

I hear you Sayfu
Tribal "fishing' is something I didn't think of in my first post.
I believe that if the Tribes want to use their "right" to catch salmon for sustenance "just like" their ancestors, then they should do it "just like" their ancestors.

They should only be able to use nets, hooks, spears and boats that they make from natural materials. Just like their ancestors really did, without modern-day technology.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

I don't agree with that. You're out there fishing with a graphite rod not a piece of willow. Why shouldn't they be able to upgrade like all the other white commercial fishermen? Some tribes are better than others at cooperating with management authorities. Management of andronomous fishes like salmon is a nightmare: they hatch in streams governed by separate states or even municipalities who all have their own idea about how to manage, or rather not manage, land use. Then the eventually migrate to the open ocean behond the 200 mile limit where they're open game for anybody, anytime, using just about any means (including the infamous miles long driftnets of the Japanese and other Asian fishing boats). Then they come back within US federal waters but only briefly before entering the rivers which virtually all have a Indian reservation perched at the confluence. If they can get past that then they're travelling through various states and subjected to their various harvesting regulations. With all the cooks in the kitchen (and dams on the rivers) I guess it's a miracle we have any salmon runs left at all!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from markmarko50 wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Sayfu, if I remember right the runs of sockeye in lake washington that went up the Cedar river and were all hatchery fish as there never was a run before the dept of fisheries started them back in the 60's or 70's, so why are tribes allowed to net?...just curious.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

mark...Hope you don't agree with Ontario. A graphite rod upgrade vs. a high cost sonar system, on a big net trawler, and the cost supplied by the taxpayer? Get real! Why should they? Because they said they were going to..hatchery makes no difference. And you are right, it was a hatchery run. The Bureau of Indian Affairs is a mulit billion dollar funded agency, and they are happy to sue in court being provided high price lawyers at tax payer expense as well. What the govt agency does is put a quota on the harvestable amount so there will be enough escapement. The notion is a 50-50 % distribution between the tribe, or tribes, and the sportsman, but it generally ends up 80%-20% and over rather quickly. And who monitors the Indians?..generally the Indians. Too many bleeding heart liberals in our govt agencies. Fun fishery though, and I sure enjoyed participating in the hayday of Sockeye fishing on Lake WA. I lived right in the middle of it on Mercer Island.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from baconboy206 wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

amen sayfu, i live about an hour north of seattle and the trible netting here is ridiculous. They break the laws about netting like you wouldnt beleive and enforcement is almost non existant. All this stuff about preserving their way of life is complete bs.Its purely about the money at this point, The stretch nets across the river from bank to bank, killing anything that wanders by including endangered steelhead and bulltrout. Any non target species are just chucked on the bank.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from badsmerf wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

That is an outrageous spike! How is that possible? Can favorable conditions really impact a population that quickly? Hopefully the other populations of salmon can be brought back too. It will be interesting to see how next year's fish counts look.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from elkslayer wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

I hope to be able to fish for them at some point in my life but I doubt that Idaho will open a season this year.

In my opinion, if columbia basin salmon are going to recover then they need to close fishing on the main columbia river. Keep all the tributary rivers open, but we need to allow the salmon (chinook, silvers and sockeye) to make it to their home rivers. Controversial for a number of reasons both economical and recreational, and I don't believe that it will ever happen.

I don't know of any studies that give reliable numbers but I suspect that a large number of salmon headed to fisheries and spawning grounds in Idaho are caught and killed in Washington and Oregon before they ever reach Idaho.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

elkslayer "fishing" sport fishing?..How about tribal netting? I caught a lot of them in Lake WA. until they quickly close the season because of the huge amounts that are netted by the tribe. No dug out canoes used.. a big commercial trawler.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from elkslayer wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

I hear you Sayfu
Tribal "fishing' is something I didn't think of in my first post.
I believe that if the Tribes want to use their "right" to catch salmon for sustenance "just like" their ancestors, then they should do it "just like" their ancestors.

They should only be able to use nets, hooks, spears and boats that they make from natural materials. Just like their ancestors really did, without modern-day technology.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

I don't agree with that. You're out there fishing with a graphite rod not a piece of willow. Why shouldn't they be able to upgrade like all the other white commercial fishermen? Some tribes are better than others at cooperating with management authorities. Management of andronomous fishes like salmon is a nightmare: they hatch in streams governed by separate states or even municipalities who all have their own idea about how to manage, or rather not manage, land use. Then the eventually migrate to the open ocean behond the 200 mile limit where they're open game for anybody, anytime, using just about any means (including the infamous miles long driftnets of the Japanese and other Asian fishing boats). Then they come back within US federal waters but only briefly before entering the rivers which virtually all have a Indian reservation perched at the confluence. If they can get past that then they're travelling through various states and subjected to their various harvesting regulations. With all the cooks in the kitchen (and dams on the rivers) I guess it's a miracle we have any salmon runs left at all!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from markmarko50 wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Sayfu, if I remember right the runs of sockeye in lake washington that went up the Cedar river and were all hatchery fish as there never was a run before the dept of fisheries started them back in the 60's or 70's, so why are tribes allowed to net?...just curious.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

mark...Hope you don't agree with Ontario. A graphite rod upgrade vs. a high cost sonar system, on a big net trawler, and the cost supplied by the taxpayer? Get real! Why should they? Because they said they were going to..hatchery makes no difference. And you are right, it was a hatchery run. The Bureau of Indian Affairs is a mulit billion dollar funded agency, and they are happy to sue in court being provided high price lawyers at tax payer expense as well. What the govt agency does is put a quota on the harvestable amount so there will be enough escapement. The notion is a 50-50 % distribution between the tribe, or tribes, and the sportsman, but it generally ends up 80%-20% and over rather quickly. And who monitors the Indians?..generally the Indians. Too many bleeding heart liberals in our govt agencies. Fun fishery though, and I sure enjoyed participating in the hayday of Sockeye fishing on Lake WA. I lived right in the middle of it on Mercer Island.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from baconboy206 wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

amen sayfu, i live about an hour north of seattle and the trible netting here is ridiculous. They break the laws about netting like you wouldnt beleive and enforcement is almost non existant. All this stuff about preserving their way of life is complete bs.Its purely about the money at this point, The stretch nets across the river from bank to bank, killing anything that wanders by including endangered steelhead and bulltrout. Any non target species are just chucked on the bank.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from badsmerf wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

That is an outrageous spike! How is that possible? Can favorable conditions really impact a population that quickly? Hopefully the other populations of salmon can be brought back too. It will be interesting to see how next year's fish counts look.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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