Idaho steelhead enthusiasts tend to be a hardy bunch who can tolerate a little adversity, but this fall-with a large run coming into the rivers early-they have a rare opportunity to go after the big ocean-run fish in shirtsleeve weather.
The largest number of steelhead to cross Lower Granite Dam since the 1985 run is on its way up Idaho rivers. Through October 1, almost 67,000 steelhead had crossed the dam. Like last year and the 1985 steelhead run, this year's run appears to be early. On average, about 41 percent of the total steelhead run has crossed Lower Granite Dam by October 1, according to Sharon Kiefer, the anadromous fish program coordinator. However, the run timing this year is probably more like last year's run and the 1985 run, when 60 percent of the run had crossed by the beginning of October.
The current forecast for the total runsize still stands at 90,000 to 120,000 steelhead passing Lower Granite Dam this fall and coming spring.
As in previous years, hatchery A-run steelhead make up most of this year's run. Almost 67,000 of these fish are expected to cross Lower Granite Dam. However, biologists have been tracking increasing numbers of hatchery B-run steelhead crossing Bonneville Dam where about 28,000 of these big fish have already headed up the Columbia River on their journey back to Idaho and up to 6,000 more are expected.
Typically, about 50 percent of the hatchery B-run steelhead that cross Bonneville Dam will also cross Lower Granite Dam, so there should be plenty of opportunity to catch the big B's.
Naturally produced steelhead numbers are also expected to be up slightly at close to 19,000 fish, but they are still expected to comprise less than 20 percent of the total steelhead run at Lower Granite Dam. Last year, about 17 percent of the steelhead run at Lower Granite Dam was naturally produced, which was about 11,0000 fish.