Steelhead Return Numbers

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Deschutes River Steelhead Return Numbers 1977-2017

The Deschutes River is a tributary of the Columbia River in the Mid-Columbia District. As such the fish runs are influenced by fish management (including Harvest) that happens in the Columbia River. For that reason we have included some steelhead passage numbers from Bonneville, the most downstream dam on the Columbia River. Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River has two modern fish ladders, and records have been kept there since 1938. Believe it or not, the records disclose that steelhead runs overall are not declining. Steelhead run numbers are highly fluctual from year to year, and from decade to decade. Fluctuations in the Deschutes River steelhead runs pretty much mirror the fluctuations in the Columbia River dam counts.
1975 was the lowest steelhead return over Bonneville Dam at: 85,540.

Next lowest was 1943: 92,151
2001 was highest with: 633,073.
2009 was next highest: 604,970
2017: 117,878.
2018: 102,891.
The last two years are very low in comparison to annual counts for the two past decades, but would be fairly average for counts prior to 1970.
Do 40-years of record keeping on the Deschutes teach us anything? What about the 80-years of records keeping at Bonneville Dam? The first thing that might be discerned is that keeping records of fish runs for the next thousand years will probably teach us a lot more. It is hard to make conclusions without long term numbers. It might also be considered that the purveyors of fishery doom and gloom might not have read all the available numbers.
January 14, 2019 Insider Newsletter will have more numbers for you contemplation.

Table 10. Estimated number of steelhead that migrated upstream of Sherars Falls on the Deschutes River, by run year.

Run Year

Wild

Round Butte Hatchery

Stray Hatchery

Total Hatchery

1977-78

6,600

6,100

900

7,000

1978-79

2,800

3,200

300

3,500

1979-80

4,200

5,400

600

6,000

1980-81

4,100

5,500

500 a/

6,000

1981-82

6,900

3,800

1,200 a/

5,000

1982-83

6,567

3,524

1,249 a/

4,773

1983-84

8,228 b/

7,250

7,684 a/

15,443

1984-85

7,721 b/

7,563

3,824 a/

11,770

1985-86

9,624 b/

7,382

5,056 c/

12,106

1986-87

6,207 b/

9,064

9,803 c/

18,358

1987-88

5,367 b/

9,209

8,367

17,623

1988-89

3,546

3,849

2,909

6,336

1989-90

4,278

2,758

3,659

6,504

1990-91

3,653

1,990

2,852

4,786

1991-92

4,826

3,778

8,409

11,859

1992-93

904

2,539

4,261

6,008

1993-94

1,487

1,159

4,293

5,476

1994-95

482

1,781

4,391

6,126

1995-96

1,662

2,708

11,855

12,828

1996-97

3,458

5,932

23,618

28,416

1997-98

1,820

5,042

17,703

22,511

1998-99

3,800

3,527

11,110

15,120

1999-00

4,790

2,628

13,785

15,219

2000-01

8,985

4,380

15,072

19,310

2001-02

8,749

9,373

25,263

31,784

2002-03

9,363

8,880

15,203

23,004

2003-04

5,524

5,265

6,543

11,551

2004-05

3,161

4,354

4,972

9,356

2005-06

3,432

5,868

4,838

10,497

2006-07

3,986

6,589

19,189

25,945

2007-08

3,482

6,120

7,929

15,641

2008-09

4,048

5,497

9,498

16,038

2009-10

4,236

9,557

15,768

25,587

2010-11

7,257

4,799

5,101

9,900

2011-12

5,450

4,063

5,363

10,324

2012-13

3,749

4,903

4,336

10,496

2013-14

3,677

2,523

2,884

5,469

2014-15

5,358

3,154

2,002

5,046

2015-16

2,457

4,293

1,926

5,954

2016-17

1,196

3,224

553

3,980

a/ May include some AD CWT marked steelhead that originated from Warm Springs NFH although few of these ever returned to that facility.

b/ May include some unmarked hatchery steelhead out planted as fry into the Warm spring River from Warm Springs NFH.

c/ May include adults from a release of 13,000 smolts from Round Butte Hatchery that were accidentally marked with the same fin clip as steelhead released from other Columbia basin hatcheries.


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