As of 7/13/09 914 sockeye salmon have crossed Lower Granite Dam.
Sockeye Salmon in Sawtooth Hatchery Trap 2008 © Ken Cole
Last year was a record for modern times when 909 Sockeye Salmon passed over Lower Granite Dam and 450 plus 650 returned to the Sawtooth Valley. This year there have been 914 so far and the run is not over. There was a year when only one male made the 900-mile journey. He was dubbed Lonesome Larry. In 1990 there were none.
To put this year’s and last year’s returns into perspective I grabbed this from the IDFG Fact Sheet on Sockeye:
“Between 1991 and 1998, only 16 wild sockeye salmon returned to Idaho. All of these adults were incorporated into the captive breeding program and spawned at the Eagle Fish Hatchery.
The program releases eggs and fish back to the habitat in a variety of ways. Eyed-eggs are planted in egg boxes and placed in lakes in the fall, presmolts are released directly to lakes in the fall, smolts are released to outlet streams in the spring, and prespawn adults are released to lakes in the fall. A monitoring and evaluation effort is in place to document the success of the different reintroduction strategies.
Over the eight years between 1999 and 2007, 355 hatchery-produced adult, sockeye salmon returned to the Sawtooth Valley. For comparison, in the 14 years from 1985 through 1998, 77 natural-origin sockeye salmon returned to Idaho.”
Idaho Sockeye Numbers Beating Last Year’s Record