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Northwest Sportsman Magazine

Where To Find Northwest Fish Count Data

Well … thank goodness for all these dams and whatnot around the Northwest — they sure do provide an easy way to track salmon, steelhead and other fish runs!

Ahem.

Anyway, as those sockeyed salmon are the returns lighting up the dam counts at the time of this writing, June 28, 2012, that is where this roundup of where you can find fresh fish count data will begin.

To wit:

Lake Washington Sockeye

Between mid-June and the end of July, the Muckleshoot Tribe and WDFW count sockeye at the Hiram M. Chittenden (or Ballard) Locks (they also count Chinook and coho into early October). WDFW posts the sockeye count here in daily and cumulative form.

You can then compare those figures to past years on this page of archived daily and cumulative data and decide whether you could use a few more red hooks in your stash, just to be on the safe side.

Baker Lake Sockeye

WDFW posts the cumulative number of sockeye captured at the Baker River trap and transferred up into Baker Lake here. There’s also a graph there with final counts for past years.

Wenatchee Lake Sockeye

Though not updated as often as one would like in season, you can get counts for sockeye heading up the Wenatchee River to this big, cold lake here, courtesy of WDFW and Chelan PUD’s Tumwater Dam fishway.

And now to the big guns of Northwest fish-counting …

Columbia, Snake Rivers salmon, steelhead, shad

Three sites, all based on Army Corps of Engineers dam data, provide good info for passage through these two systems, but one site loads the previous day’s data earlier than others.

They are:

The Corps’ Portland District Fish Data page: Provides the data in several different ways: daily (for the past two weeks), by ladder (see below), running sum, monthly and year to date for adult salmon and steelhead at Bonneville, The Dalles, John Day and McNary Dams on the Columbia and Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose and Lower Granite Dams on the Snake.

Fish Passage Center: In addition to a lot of other useful features like annual tallies by dam and species, and passage graphs, FPC provides seven days worth of daily data for the above eight facilities plus those on the Columbia up to Wells Dam and Oregon’s Willamette Falls.

“The Fish Passage Center usually — not always — has data available by, what, 8 in the morning? The Corps of Engineers’ site has the same counts … available at 9:30 p.m. the night before, so the day of counting. This is a tremendous bonus for anglers wanting to track the movements of large plugs of fish,” notes our contributor Jeff Holmes who set us off on this damn roundup.

(FPC data is also reposted here on the Columbia River Inter-tribal Fish Commission’s Web site.)

Columbia River Data Access in Real Time, or DART: This University of Washington site gives the data to you two good ways — graphs and numbers. I prefer the latter which gives me each days’ count for the whole year. It includes all the mainstem Columbia and Snake Dams plus Willamette Falls and five other stations on basin tribs.

The DART site also lets you track the run by PIT, or passive integrated transponder, tag returns past sonar arrays at each dam, important, say, for timing a spring Chinook expedition to the Wind River or Drano Lake where a percentage of the run is implanted with the devices and the fisheries themselves are pretty clean, meaning not many kings from other stocks are caught here.

While DART posts this info, upper Columbia River salmon and steelhead counts are also available through the Chelan County PUD for Rocky Reach and Rock Island Dams, from Douglas County PUD for Wells Dam and Grant County PUD for Wanapum and Priest Rapids Dams (though in Excel spreadsheets).

DART’s biggest drawback? No pink salmon counts. What the humpie?!?!

They’re available on the FPC and Corps pages.

Other Northwest Rivers

Willamette Falls counts are posted daily as PDFs on ODFW’s Web site.

The agency also lists a host of sites fish are counted at, including Foster Dam on the South Santiam, Sherars Falls fishway on the Deschutes (operated mid-June to November) and Three Mile Falls Dam on the Umatilla (springers in, err, spring, steelhead in winter and early spring).

However, counts have been suspended at several stations such as Powerdale Dam on the Hood because, well, there ain’t no more Powerdale Dam.

In the Yakima River Basin, the Yakima Klickitat Fisheries Project posts PDFs with data for steelhead and Chinook counts at Prosser and Roza Dams here.

To the south in the Klickitat drainage, you can get count info for Chinook, coho and steelhead at Lyle Falls 2.2 miles above the mouth here.

Ladder Counts

If you’re really a fish-count geek, like me, you are in luck. Many lower and mid-Columbia and one Snake River dam have two fish ladders — and the Corps of Engineers posts tallies for both.

For example, at Bonneville Dam you can get separate counts for the Bradford Island ladder on the Oregon side and the Washington shore ladder.

Same deal at The Dalles (north and east ladders), John Day (south and north), McNary (Washington and Oregon shore) and another dam or two.

To mojo up the numbers, go to the Corps’ Fish counts and reports page, and then at upper left, pick out a date range, and hit either the “salmon” or “shad lamprey” button.

Other Ways To Measure Fish Numbers

Another way to count fish is through returns to hatcheries. WDFW posts weekly escapement reports for salmon and steelhead to its facilities as well as to fishways like Sunset Falls on the Skykomish River.

The agency also posts:

Weekly trout stocking reports;

Sport catch reports for Puget Sound salmon, ocean salmon, coastal bays and rivers salmon/steelhead, Yakima River and Hanford Reach salmon/steelhead;

Coastal, Straits and Puget Sound halibut;

Southwest Washington salmon, steelhead, trout;

And Columbia River/Buoy 10 salmon.

You can get some of that info sooner through fisheries biologist Joe Hymer in Vancouver, who, if you ask, will probably add you to his already voluminous emailing list. He rounds up and sends out sport fishery updates/catch stats for the Columbia and many Southwest and South-central Washington tribs as well as Washington coast salmon fishing tallies on a weekly and sometimes daily basis.

ODFW also posts trout stocking plans for its various watersheds here.

And the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Carson National Fish Hatchery on the Wind River which produces spring Chinook posts near-daily returns on its Facebook page here.

Bonneville Dam fish cams

And finally, if all this talk of fish counting has you ready to do some fish countin’ of your own, you can try your hand at it by dialing up the Bonneville Dam ladder cams and adding up all the springers, shad, sockeye, steelhead, fall brights, etc., etc., etc. squiggling through.

Better be good and fast, though.

My link to the cams on both sides of the dam went bust sometime in spring 2012, but I eventually found another way to them.

Here’s a link to the high-speed camera on the Washington side.

And here’s a link to the one on the Oregon side.

Have I Missed Anything?

I’m sure I have — hit me at awalgamott@media-inc.com and I’ll fold it into this blog.

And I’d point out that sometimes Web addresses change, so while all these links work this week, some may be switched by the Corps or WDFW or Any Other Powers That Be next month or next year. We’ll try to keep them live.

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