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NW Fishletter #342 February 5, 2015

[3] Record Redd Count For Fall Chinook In The Snake

In a January memo, regional biologists reported a record number of fall Chinook redds were counted in the Snake River Basin in 2014, 324 redds more than the previous record count in 2013, which was about 15 percent higher than the previous high in 2010. The team effort was made up of biologists from the Nez Perce Tribe, Idaho Power, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The count added up to 6,715 redds, with more than 2,800 counted in the Snake River, another 3,118 counted in the Clearwater Basin, 432 in the Grande Ronde Basin, and 302 redds estimated in the Tucannon River. Another 103 redds were counted in the Imnaha River, and 42 more in the Salmon River.

About 500 fall Chinook redds along a 200-yard stretch of the
Clearwater River in 2013 (click for full image).
Courtesy Idaho Power.

Nearly 61,000 adult fall Chinook (hatchery and wild) were counted at Lower Granite Dam in 2014, beating the 2013 record of 56,565 fish.

An Alaska-based fishermen's group has petitioned NOAA Fisheries to delist the Snake fall Chinook (see story 2), but the feds are still developing delisting goals, and may want 20 years of overall productivity of the wild run--the ratio of returning spawners from one generation to the next--to be at least 1.3, which means 30 percent higher. If ocean conditions tank, that might not be doable.

However, next year's return may be nearly as high as this year's run, if returning jacks are an accurate signal. The 2013 jack count was more than 22,000, within a few hundred fish of the 2012 count; this year's jack count almost made it to 20,000. -B. R.

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