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Sockeyes Return

First sockeye salmon of the season return to Stanley Basin


It looks like at least a few sockeye salmon have managed to make it 900 miles upstream from the Pacific Ocean to make the return trip to Redfish Lake Creek.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game announced on Friday, July 24 that the first two adult salmon of the season had managed to make the trek. The adult females were captured and taken to the Eagle Fish Hatchery, where their fates will be decided; either being released back into the wild to spawn, or added to the captive broodstock program.

Redfish Lake sockeye are considered an endangered species, and their declining numbers have long been of concern for wildlife managers. Captive breeding programs and other recovery efforts have been in place since the fish were listed in 1991.

Last year, roughly 550 adult sockeyes made it back to the Stanley Basin, which was the highest number recorded since the 1990s. In 2007, only four sockeyes managed to make the trip.

The population is considered so special partially because their migration is not only the longest of all sockeye, but they gain the most elevation from the sea (7,000 feet) and it is the most southern spawning population in North America.

This is just the beginning of the migration season, and Fish and Game officials said most of the fish will return through early September before spawning in October.

Further downriver, 1,157 sockeye have been counted passing Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River, which is the final dam along the migration route. Now, just 450 miles to go.