Boneville Steelhead Counts

Boneville Steelhead Counts

The Pacific Northwest has long been synonymous with pristine landscapes, rugged coastlines, and, of course, its remarkable salmon and steelhead runs. Among these natural wonders, the Boneville Dam's annual steelhead counts stand out as a testament to the resilience and determination of these incredible fish. In this blog post, we will dive deep into the Boneville Steelhead Counts, exploring the significance of these numbers and what they reveal about the state of our environment and the future of these magnificent creatures.

Understanding the Boneville Dam:

The Boneville Dam, located on the Columbia River, serves as a critical point for monitoring the migration of steelhead, a species of anadromous trout. These fish hatch in freshwater streams, migrate to the ocean to grow, and then return to their natal streams to spawn. The Boneville Dam is one of many such barriers that these fish encounter during their journey, and it provides a unique opportunity for researchers and conservationists to assess the health of steelhead populations.

The Importance of Steelhead:

Steelhead, often referred to as the "fish of a thousand casts," are renowned for their remarkable strength, acrobatics, and challenging pursuit by anglers. However, their significance extends far beyond the thrill of catching one on a fly rod. Steelhead play a crucial role in the ecosystem as a keystone species. They bring essential nutrients from the ocean to freshwater ecosystems, benefiting both terrestrial and aquatic life.

Steelhead populations also serve as an indicator of the overall health of our rivers and streams. Changes in water temperature, pollution levels, habitat degradation, and dam construction can all impact steelhead numbers. Monitoring these populations through counts at dams like Boneville is a vital step in assessing the health of the entire ecosystem.

The Boneville Steelhead Counts:

The Boneville Dam utilizes fish ladders and counting facilities to track the number of steelhead passing through during their annual migrations. These counts provide essential data for researchers and fisheries managers, allowing them to make informed decisions about conservation efforts and sustainable fishing practices.

Typically, steelhead counts at Boneville Dam are recorded from early spring through late summer. The numbers can fluctuate significantly from year to year, depending on a range of factors, including ocean conditions, water temperature, and the availability of suitable spawning habitat. A lower count does not necessarily indicate a declining population; it may reflect natural variation within the species.



1994 161,978 29,451
1995 202,448 28,036
1996 205,216 30,338
1997 258,385 33,580
1998 185,094 35,701
1999 206,488 55,064
2000 275,178 76,192
2001 633,073 149,317
2002 483,956 143,196
2003 365,821 112,823
2004 313,377 97,875
2005 315,650 88,999
2006 339,301 85,082
2007 325,275 82,197
2008 357,845 105,670
2009 604,970 172,383
2010 416,603 156,139
2011 369,365 129,166
2012 235,303 85,472
2013 234,047 99,148
2014 325,965 130,571
2015 268,730 97,782
2016 188,146 52,260
2017 117,878 34,405
2018 102,920 33,321
2019 77,319 37,233
2020 114,433 45,775
2021 71,980 25,595
2022 126,367 39'167
2023 74,432 30,998
Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.