Select Page

Upstream Migration Timing of Columbia Basin Chinook Salmon, Sockeye Salmon, and Steelhead in 2011

Mar 31, 2013


In 2011 we sampled sockeye and Chinook salmon as well as steelhead at the Bonneville Dam Adult Fish Facility. Fish were measured for length and scales collected for later analysis for age and the fish were tagged with Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tags. These fish were tracked upstream as they passed through sites with PIT tag antennas, including fish ladders at dams, juvenile bypasses, hatcheries, weirs, as well as in-stream antennas. Total numbers of fish tracked upstream were 1045 spring Chinook, 814 summer Chinook, 1309 fall Chinook, 1377 steelhead, and 747 sockeye salmon.

Chinook travel rates between mainstem dams ranged between 20.6 and 37.5 km/day. Most spring Chinook salmon that traveled upstream of McNary Dam were last detected in the Snake River, most summer Chinook were last detected in the Columbia River upstream of Priest Rapids Dam, and the majority of fall Chinook passed upstream of McNary Dam. Escapement estimates for the entire Chinook run derived from PIT tag detections result in estimates differing from those estimated by visual counts by -6.1% to +17.6% at mainstem dams.

Steelhead median rates between mainstem dams ranged from 15.8 km to 28.2 km/day. Steelhead classified as B-run (greater or equal to 78 cm fork length) were overwhelmingly last detected in the Snake River. Based on the data reported, the percentage of steelhead classified as B-run at Bonneville Dam peaked in late September and early October at over 40% of the total steelhead run, while the estimated weekly number of B-run steelhead passing Bonneville Dam peaked in mid-September at nearly 7,000 fish. A total of 49 PIT tagged steelhead tracked in 2011 were detected moving downstream (mostly in juvenile bypasses) after February, 12 presumably in an attempt to return to the ocean after spawning.
The estimated stock composition of sockeye salmon passing Bonneville Dam was 76.8% Okanagan, 21.9% Wenatchee, and 1.3% Snake. Upstream survival of sockeye salmon was highest early and late in the run.
The mean travel rate between Bonneville and Rock Island Dam was 34.4 km per day. Sockeye passing Bonneville Dam later in the migration traveled upstream faster than those earlier in the migration.



Fryer, J.K., J. Whiteaker, and D. Kelsey. 2013. Upstream Migration Timing of Columbia Basin Chinook and Sockeye Salmon and Steelhead in 2011. Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission Technical Report 13-04 for U.S. Dept. of Energy Bonneville Power Administration Project 2008-518-00. 98p.



Report No.


Media Type

CRITFC Technical Report