It didn’t generate many headlines, but on Thursday of last week 30,262 sockeye salmon climbed the ladder at Bonneville Dam. It was a busier-than-average day in a season of busy days. By the middle of this week, a cumulative 363,853 sockeye had passed Bonneville. That is already double last year’s total run of 186,000. The fisheries experts updated their forecast this week and now expect 425,000 sockeye at Bonneville this year, second only to the stupendous record of 515,673 set in 2012. Our river has not seen such plentiful sockeye returns since the halcyon, free-flowing, nearly damless days of legend.
It’s all good news. Chinook returns are good and on target, and record breaking returns are predicted for fall. For me, the sockeye are particularly interesting, because most of them are headed to our neighborhood. Predictions are something more than 1,200 of those sockeye are headed for the Snake River and fabled Redfish Lake. More than 63,000 are predicted to pass Rock Island Dam and make a hard left to Lake Wenatchee, to be one of the largest returns to that lake in memory.