Sockeye salmon return to Redfish Lake, but numbers are still low

Idaho Press

As of Monday, 16 sockeye salmon had made it back to Redfish Lake in central Idaho.

The iconic Pacific salmon species has started its return to Redfish Lake this season after a record-low 17 sockeye salmon — which give the lake its name — made their way back to Idaho in 2019.

The returning salmon are part of an ancient cycle that has been disrupted by hydroelectric dams, climate change and other human infringements on waterways across the Northwest. This year should see better return rates than last year, and Idaho Department of Fish and Game fishery experts Dan Baker and John Powell said the sockeye’s survival is not totally in jeopardy yet.

So far in 2020, 412 sockeye have passed the Lower Granite Lake Dam on the Snake River in southeastern Washington. Those fish are working their way up the river into Idaho, where they will eventually be trapped by IDFG and transported to the Eagle Hatchery, where genetic testing will determine if they will be incorporated into the captive broodstock that has kept sockeye salmon populations alive in Idaho.

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