Sockeye Success Story

Working together, biologists, native tribes and electric-power brokers brought Idaho’s sockeye salmon back from the brink of extinction.

In 1992 a single sockeye managed to complete the migration from the Pacific Ocean up the Snake River to Idaho, and was dubbed “Lonesome Larry” by observers and fish counters. This year scientists counted more than 2,000 of the fish at the last dam they move through in Washington State.

The program, funded by the Bonneville Power Administration, has released more than 3.8 million sockeye eggs and fish into lakes and streams in the Sawtooth Valley, and tracks the fish that return from the ocean. Hatchery fish returning as adults have also begun spawning again in Redfish Lake, increasingly producing naturally spawned offspring that are now also returning.

Restoration efforts began in the 1990s with 16 captive fish and the recent success indicates that Snake River sockeyes are on a solid path to becoming a self-sustaining, naturally-reproducing species once again.

North American Fisherman Top Stories