Columbia River Sockeye Returning in Record Numbers

The Seattle Times reported this week on word from the Washington State Fish and Wildlife office in Vancouver about some huge sockeye numbers being seen in the Lower Columbia River.

The 25,011 sockeye counted at Bonneville Dam on Sunday, June 20 was the second highest single-day count since at least 1938. The record is 27,112 fish on July 7, 1955.

The total number of sockeye that have passed up Bonneville Dam so far this summer is 82,055. The count at The Dalles Dam is 38,830; at the John Day Dam it is 21,354; at McNary Dam it is 9,199.

This summer the preseason forecast calls for 125,200 sockeye back to the Columbia River. Of that the majority of are destined for the Okanogan River with a smolt-based forecast of 110,300.

The rest of that 14,300 will be heading back to the Wenatchee River and the spawning escapement is close to twice that figure.

Another 600 sockeye are headed back to the Snake River.

Non-Indian and treaty Indian commercial fisheries for sockeye occur when the escapement goal of 75,000 at Bonneville Dam has been achieved and sufficient surplus is available for fisheries. Commercial harvest of sockeye had not occurred since 1988, except for small fisheries in 2000 and 2004. In 2008, a season total of 213,607 sockeye were counted at Bonneville Dam, and a commercial harvest did occur.