Field reports: Sockeye tally grows on Columbia, Snake

FISHING – Sockeye continue to set records for their total run this year up the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

The record of 521,000 counted into the Columbia over Bonneville Dam in 2012 has been smashed, with 613,900 counted to date at the first dam they encounter in their migration from the sea.

Sockeye passage over Bonneville has subsided to a few dozen a day, but the salmon are providing good fishing hundreds of miles upstream to Brewster.

The post-dams record of sockeye up the Snake River was set in late July. The record over Lower Granite, completed in 1975, has continued to slowly increase to 2,680 this weekend. The fish are headed to the upper Salmon River in Idaho’s Sawtooth Valley, where they once spawned by the thousands in Redfish Lake.

The low point in the Snake River sockeye run was 1990, when no sockeyes were observed passing Lower Granite Dam.

In 1991, the run was federally listed as endangered. From 1988 to 1999 the number of sockeye returning to the Sawtooth Valley was in the single digits.

A captive brood stock program begun in 1991 has helped boost the run.

Next record: A predicted record run of 1.6 million fall chinook salmon has begun entering the Columbia.

Tribe puts trout into Rufus Woods

FISHING – About 5,700 triploid (sterile) rainbow trout ranging from 2 to 3 pounds were released into Lake Rufus Woods on July 31 by the Colville Tribe.

The fish, marked by a clipped adipose fin, are purchased from commercial net pens in the pool behind Chief Joseph Dam.

Since 2011, the tribe says it’s released 118,100 of the trout to provide recreational fishing.

A total of 48,000 will be released this year, they say.

Tourist crashes drone in Yellowstone hot spring

PARKS – A tourist flew a drone into a Yellowstone National Park hot spring last week despite a park ban on drones.

The aircraft crashed into 160-degree waters of the picturesque Grand Prismatic Spring. Officials hope to remove it, but are working on a plan to avoid impacts to the spring, which is known for its vivid colors and measures 300 feet across.

Park officials say the number of complaints from park visitors about people illegally flying these devices is increasing.

Nutria targeted at Capitol Lake

INVASIVES – Washington wildlife officials say they’re hiring federal Department of Agriculture hunters to work at night to kill the 40 or so nutria populating Capitol Lake near Olympia.

The muskrat-like rodents are considered an invasive species, can carry disease and can displace native animal and plant species, officials said. Their burrowing can also damage roads and bridges around the lake.

Fish and Wildlife Department officials say they are native to southern parts of South America. They were sold in the 1930s throughout North America to fur farmers and as a means of controlling unwanted aquatic vegetation.

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Rich Landers

Rich Landers

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