Monday, May 21, 2012

How's the Salmon Run developing?

This will be the first of many reports on the 2012 Salmon Run.  There are so many great and wonderful things to watch on the Salmon River.  The annual chinook salmon run is easily one of Nature's most glorious phenomena.

We are going to be watching the salmon numbers at both Bonneville and Lower Granite Dams.  The real key to a successful salmon season on The Salmon River are the numbers of salmon successfully getting up past Lower Granite Dam.  Bonneville is an early indicator but Lower Granite is the proof of the pudding.

Things have been off to a very slow start this year at Lower Granite.  In fact, the very first chinook didn't even show up until April 23rd.  The 10-year-average normal appearance is April 3rd do the first fish was nearly three weeks late.  Meanwhile, run numbers at Lower Granite have been far, far below normal until the past four days.  In the last four days of record (May 17-20) things changed dramatically and run numbers are 278% above the 10-year average.  In fact, during the May 17-20 period, 14,768 of the year's total of 18,344 fish were counted.  To put it another way, 80% of the fish counted crossing Lower Granite this year have been counted within the past four days.

Even with this recent surge in the run numbers, this year's total of 18,344 fish is still far below the 10-year average of 30,802 at this time.

Below are some graphics and comments to help better understand how this year's Salmon run is beginning to evolve.
 The graphic above shows the chinook run through Bonneville.  Obviously, it's looking great.
 Meanwhile, here's a graphic way of showing how paltry the chinook run has been at Lower Granite.
 Luckily, the Lower Granite numbers have really picked up in the past few days.  The Saturday run of 8425 is very encouraging.  That's more than four times the 10-year-average for that day.
The graphic above shows the statistics for the timing of the chinook run as it evolves.  Generally, only about 10% of the fish have made their appearance by this time of year.  Things should begin to pick up from here on out into the summer-fall calendar.  Click here to go to the website that explains this data.
Here's a screen shot from the IDFG's webpage that tracks the salmon run.  You can click here to go to that page.

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