Since PacifiCorp’s crusty Condit Dam fell in 2011, Washington State’s White Salmon River has seen small but escalating returns of steelhead and chinook to spawning areas upstream of the deconstruction zone.
According to WDFW fishery biologists a total of 88 spring chinook spawners were estimated to have entered the river in 2013, and another 216 last year. Most of the new recruits are said to be strays from nearby rivers and hatcheries, including the Hood River across the Columbia in Oregon and Washington’s Klickitat. Steelhead are also funneling into tributaries such as Rattlesnake and Buck creeks.
Biologists have located about a dozen redds per year in those two streams, said Yakama Nation fisheries biologist Joe Zendt. “And there is likely to be more than that,” he added, since egg nests are hard to spot during spring runoff, when most of the steelhead spawn.
“Their source is also still a mystery. A few carcasses of spawned out fish have been retrieved, but all were too decomposed to allow genetic analysis. The fish could potentially be from resident rainbow trout that chose to adopt the steelhead life history, or from fish strayed from other locations.”
Tom Bie is the founder, editor, and publisher of The Drake. He started the magazine in 1998 as an annual newsprint publication based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He then moved it to Steamboat, Colorado (1999), Boulder, Colorado (2001), and San Clemente, California (2004), as he took jobs as managing editor at Paddler, Senior Editor at Skiing, and Editor-in-Chief at Powder, respectively. Tom and The Drake are now both based in Denver, Colorado, where The Drake is finally all grows up(Swingers, 1996) to a quarterly magazine.