Enough endangered sockeye salmon are returning to central Idaho this year that some will be allowed to swim the final few hundred yards into Redfish Lake under their own power, something that hasn’t happened in two decades because of dismal spawning runs.
State biologists expect 1,400 to 1,500 sockeye will return to the Stanley region, up from last year’s 833.
With room for 1,000 fish at the state hatchery in Eagle, however, 400 to 500 will be counted, sampled for genetics – and then allowed to swim past the trap in Redfish Lake Creek and into the lake.
Biologists attribute this year’s spike to good ocean and river conditions, actions by dam operators to help young fish survive and the success of a sockeye hatchery program that was targeted for abandonment just four years ago.
Only three of the fish from Redfish Lake made their way back into Idaho in 2006. (AP)