DATE: September 4, 2019
SNIP: Redfish Lake in the Sawtooth Mountains has some of the clearest cleanest water in the United States. It was named for the fish that make a nine hundred mile journey to the Pacific Ocean and back.
“Redfish was named after the fish that turn red when they’re spawning,” said Andy Munter of Idaho Rivers United. “The old settlers talk about not being able to cross the creeks because there are so many fish it would spook the horses.”
But this year sockeye salmon are not returning to Redfish Lake Creek by the tens of thousands, the thousands or even the hundreds.
This year Fish and Game has only captured seventeen sockeye in their trap near Stanley. Only eighty one sockeye have made it past Lower Granite, the last dam on their migration to Idaho. Every day Fish and Game technicians check a trap on Redfish Lake Creek, hoping to find sockeye, but this year they have mostly found resident pike minnows.
Idaho’s most critically endangered salmon face many challenges, including recent warming of the ocean. But this year’s return of sockeye was also hit hard two years ago when hundreds of thousands died within minutes of being released.
[Note: Because of the Snake River dams, the salmon have to be manually carried past the dams. This is obviously very difficult on the salmon, and expensive. The challenges the fish face include continued abusive sheep grazing in the very headwaters of the Salmon River watershed streams in the Stanley Basin. And of course the dams where the Army Corps of Engineers and politicians are pursuing a policy of Salmon Extinction by abjectly ignoring science and stonewalling on removal of the Lower Snake dams.]