The first sockeye of 2018 returned to the Redfish Lake Creek trap near Stanley on July 26. The first sockeye arrived on July 27 last year.
The fish is among the 233 sockeye that have so far crossed Lower Granite Dam near Lewiston (through July 26), which is the last dam the fish cross before reaching Idaho.
The 2018 sockeye run through Lower Granite has already topped last year’s total of 228 fish, which was the lowest return in a decade. Since 2008, sockeye returns over Lower Granite have averaged 1,115 fish with an annual range of 228 to a high of 2,786 in 2014.
Idaho sockeye must complete a 900-mile migration from the Pacific Ocean that includes crossing eight dams and climbing 6,500-feet elevation to reach the Sawtooth Basin.
While recent sockeye runs are small compared with other salmon runs, they’re a vast improvement over previous decades. Between 1996 and 2007, annual sockeye returns over Lower Granite averaged 52 fish.
When Idaho sockeye were listed in 1991 under the federal Endangered Species Act, only four adult sockeye returned to the Stanley Basin. The combined annual returns from 1991-99 was 23 fish, including two years when no sockeye returned to Idaho.