Sky-high Sockeye Run: New All-time High Mark At Bonneville

Fish counters have finally posted Monday’s Bonneville sockeye tally and it shows a new record of 56,333, destroying the old high mark from 2012 by nearly 15,000 of the salmon.

Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s sockeye stats also topped out over 50,000, meaning the three all-time biggest days at the dam for the species since 1938 have occurred during this year’s run. And six of the 10 highest counts in those 84 years of record have been this year.


While sockeye counts have since tailed off at the most downstream dam on the Columbia, 2022’s initial return forecast of 198,700 was met and then some in just the space of four days there – 201,295 for June 26-29.

Early last week, the U.S. v. Oregon Technical Advisory Committee more than doubled the forecast to 426,000 and are set to meet again this week after the Fourth of July holiday.

The improved forecast allowed state managers to open sockeye retention in the Lower Columbia and boost the limit from Tri-Cities up to Bridgeport. Most of this year’s return is headed for the Okanogan/Okanagan and Lake Wenatchee, but a few will peel off into the Deschutes, Yakima and Snake.

While TAC’s inseason update wasn’t broken out by stock, Idaho managers believe they’ll see more than the 200 initially forecast to the Gem State.

“I can tell you that similar to the rest of the sockeye populations in the Columbia River basin, the Snake River component of the run is coming in higher than the preseason forecast,” said IDFG’s Chris Sullivan.

As it stands, through July 3 490,781 sockeye have been counted at Bonneville; the annual record there is 2014’s 614,179; the 10-year average tally through yesterday is 230,416.

Posting of last Monday’s figures was delayed as crews reviewed video from the fish ladder. There were questions around the initial anomalously steelhead tally from the previous day, which at this writing appears to have stood. The Corps of Engineers also reported a staffer went home sick on Monday, leading to delays in passing along the info to Fish Passage Center.

Also coming in surprisingly strong is the summer Chinook run, mostly headed for the Upper Columbia. June 27 saw 5,319 fish, the next day 5,246.

Ocean conditions have turned favorable in recent years after a poor stretch.

And the shad count of 5,741,481 is fourth highest at the moment but within a day of moving into the third spot and about a week of number two billing, though it might not reach the mark.

Here are the new top 10 sockeye days at Bonneville Dam in order:

  1. 56,333, June 27, 2022
  2. 53,738, June 28, 2022
  3. 50,640, June 29, 2022
  4. 41,573, June 26, 2012
  5. 40,584, June 26, 2022
  6. 38,756, June 25, 2012
  7. 34,549, July 5, 2014
  8. 34,253, July 4, 2014
  9. 33,730, June 30, 2022
  10. 32,047, June 25, 2022

Last Monday’s 56,333 sockeye also appears to be among the all-time highest daily counts for all species of salmon, led by 67,521 and 67,024 fall Chinook on September 8 and 7, 2014, and 63,870 fall Chinook on September 9, 2013, though that is far from an exhaustive search.