The 2017 spring adult migration to the Columbia River basin has begun. Bonneville dam is the first dam encountered by salmon and steelhead adults as they return to their natal waters to spawn. Fish destined for the middle and upper Columbia and Snake Rivers will encounter 3 more dams (The Dalles, John Day, and McNary). Fish entering the Snake will encounter another 4 dams (Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose, and Lower Granite). Fish destined for the upper Columbia could encounter an additional 5 dams. No fish passage is available at Chief Joseph dam, so that is as high in the Columbia that they can reach. Prior to dam construction on the Columbia, salmon migrated all the way into Canada.
As of 4/17/17, the current and recent past counts of Spring Chinook Salmon that have passed Bonneville dam and entered the Columbia River system are:
10-yr avg: 7634
It is still not known if runs are actually down this year or if the run just started later than normal.
The current and recent past counts of Steelhead are:
10-yr avg: 3153
The current and recent past counts of Wild Steelhead are:
10-yr avg: 1146
While what seem to be impressive numbers of fish return to the Columbia River basin today, be aware that historically 17 MILLION salmon returned to the Columbia River each year.