It's amazing to see such a huge return of chinook, the largest of all the Pacific salmon, in a river that used to produce millions (that's plural) of salmon. But lamenting the past can be wasted effort, and I am just happy to see such a big return this year and look forward to more in the future.
Eventually, I would love to see big, self-sustaining runs of all our salmon species with a big enough surplus for sport, commercial and tribal fisheries. I think it's possible in most cases to get one or all the above.
It's also interesting to watch steelhead just plugging along. I catch myself feeling a little bummed that there isn't a corresponding increase in steelhead, but I also can't forget that steelhead have been more consistent through the years and good runs returned even when salmon runs were down.
We're seeing good numbers of those fish reaching Idaho. Many are continuing up the Columbia to Hanford Reach, but the counts at Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River were 37,048 on Tuesday, which is more than double the 10-year average of 15,595 fish.
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The run at Lower Granite is already the second-largest since counting started in 1975, and only trails last year's record run of 56,565 fall chinook.