• Amazing 2014 Fall Chinook run bound for Hanford Reach and the Snake River

    Nov. 2014: The fall chinook return to Bonneville Dam this year was almost one million strong. On two successive days in September, the daily record was set and then set again, at more than 67,000 fish.


    The return includes wild fish from the Snake River and the Hanford Reach.


    The Hanford Reach: A combination of managed flows and improved dam passage for juvenile fish has led to a big comeback for the upriver bright chinook in the Hanford Reach, a 50-mile stretch of the mid-Columbia River. Vernita Bar in the Hanford Reach, about 35 miles east of Yakima, Wash., is home to one of the region's healthiest wild salmon populations. 


    There, and in several other places in Hanford Reach, fall chinook salmon dig redds in the gravel to lay their eggs. Beginning around Thanksgiving each year, federal dam operators and Grant County PUD manage flows at Vernita Bar to protect the redds until the chinook fry emerge from the gravel in late May.


    Maintaining adequate water levels requires extraordinary coordination among Grand Coulee, Chief Joseph and the mid-Columbia dam operators.  




    The Snake River:  Hatchery releases from the Nez Perce Tribal Hatchery on the Clearwater River have dramatically increased the number of natural and hatchery origin Snake River fall chinook returning above Lower Granite Dam. Many of them spawn naturally, their offspring helping to increase the natural origin fish returns. Read more at the CRITFC website.


    In 2010, the natural origin fall chinook adult return to Lower Granite Dam was just under 10,000 fish, which was a record since the construction of Lower Granite Dam in 1975. The 2011 return was the second highest at just under 8,000 natural origin adults.




  • Redds signal increase in wild Snake River fish

    For 25 years, tribal, state and federal fisheries managers have conducted aerial and ground surveys to count the redds – or nests – of fall chinook salmon in rivers and tributaries of the Snake River Basin.


    In 2013, they estimated the third highest number of redds – 6,391 – in the 25 years of surveys.


    See 2013 report.






    See how hatcheries are building wild fish populations