Where are all the unaccounted for Salmon?


I have taken the posted numbers off the Idaho Fish and Game website for the 2014 salmon fishing season and would like to know where the unaccounted 65,633 fish are, can you please let the salmon anglers know.

I do not know where to find the Tribal fish take so that number has not been included. There are still a lot of missing salmon that came over the Lower Granite Dam that are not showing up in the hatcheries or in sport fishermen harvested numbers, can you please explain?

Hatchery Counts
Rapid River 2519
Hells Canyon 1261
Nez Perce Tribal Hatchery 225
Kooskia Hatchery 685
Pahsimeroi River 698
Sawtooth 1071
Crooked River 108
Red River 910
South Fork Salmon River 1015
Powell 343

Sport Fishing Take
Salmon River Drainage 7,660
Snake River Drainage 455
Clearwater River Drainage 3806
South Fork Salmon River 486

Unclipped Adult Salmon Released
Salmon River Drainage 3499
Snake River Drainage 36
Clearwater River Drainage 1423
South Fork Salmon Rive 658

Hatchery/Sport Harvest/Unclipped Released Total 26858

Lower Granite Spring/Summer Total (7/24/2014) 92491

Unaccounted For Fish 65633


You've done a great job of tracking the hatchery return component of the Chinook run.  Here are other items that need to be considered in doing a run reconstruction:

Mortality between Lower Granite Dam and the hatcheries - there is mortality due to environmental reasons, predators, diseases, injuries, hard angler releases, etc.  We don't know what percentage are actually lost once fish pass Lower Granite but some biologists speculate it could be ~10%.

Straying of returning adults.  There is not 100% fidelity in returning adult fish.  Straying rates vary for the different stocks of fish.  Studies show it could be from 5 - 15%.  Hence, these fish are unaccounted for at the hatchery trapping sites.

Fish returning to Oregon tributaries above Lower Granite Dam - there are a couple of significant streams in Oregon that contribute to Chinook returns passing Lower Granite Dam.

Wild Chinook - your accounting doesn't show a total for wild or natural production that occurs in the Clearwater or Salmon basins.

Tribal harvest of the sport fishery - we don't currently have harvest information for the Nez Perce or Shoshone Bannock tribes.  They are not required to provide us their harvest information, so it's not posted on our managed data sites.

Late arriving hatchery fish - Chinook, although the numbers are lower, will continue returning to our traps up until they spawn.  There will still be late arriving fish.  There are also Chinook at several of our facilities that never actually enter our traps and will spawn just downstream.

As you can probably see, accounting for fish in the wild - and when you have no control over the different variables affecting survival, is extremely difficult.  There is an element of making educated "guesses" when it comes to accounting for all the fish.  We often error on the side of being conservative in our harvest estimates so we can assure enough brood stock to provide fishing in future years.