Explain The Dalles vs. JohnDay Fish Counts??? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Explain The Dalles vs. JohnDay Fish Counts???

10-07-2005, 11:01 AM
I can not make sense of the fish counts on the Columbia. I occasionally fish the Deschutes and the Clearwater. But I can not understand the fish counts at the Dalles Ladder vs. the John Day. It seems to me that the Dalles count, minus the John Day count, would give an indication as to how many fish went up the Deschutes. But looking at the past years counts the numbers jumps all over, some years 5000 to 20000 plus OR minus!!!! steelhead go through these two dams. Example 11000 less went through JDay, but in 2003, 13000 MORE fish went throught JDAY than THE DALLES. As I see it, the only river between The Dalles damn and John Day is the Deschutes. Any good reading on the counts?

10-09-2005, 07:21 PM
Sometimes the fish go up through the locks at The Dalles, or so I've been told. Some fish have been known to go back down the ladders and thus be counted twice or more. I assume you're talking about end of season counts, as the daily numbers from some sites are occasionally missing.

The Deschutes also acts are a holding area for Idaho bound fish; fish go up as far as Pelton Dam and then turn around to continue on to Dworshak or wherever. But, as you point out, there should be attrition at every dam, as fish as siphoned off into the tributaries or are killed by nets, anglers, other predators, or disease. The season totals for fish passage should be greater at The Dalles than at John Day.

Someone else will probably provide the real explanation for this, but the locks may be a factor.

-- Eric

10-09-2005, 10:03 PM
Yearly totals actualy give a better understanding of fish distribution as a species moves up the system, as an example:
Daily total
Oct 05
Dalles - Chinook / 12000 - W Steelhead / 6000 - Total Steelhead / 25000
John Day - Chin / 12000 - W Steelhead / 9000 - Total Steelhead / 33000
Mc Nary - Chin / 14000 - W Steelhead / 9000 - Total Steelhead / 36000

The amounts daily seem to be growing the further upriver you go!

Yearly Totals
Jan 8 - Oct 8 '05
Dalles - Chinook / 355000 - W Steelhead / 68000 - Total Steelhead / 224500
John Day - " 292000 " 66400 " 209000
Mc Nary - " 240600 " 50300 " 188500

This I believe to be a truer representation of distribution
These counts and other info at dfw.state.or.us

10-10-2005, 07:09 PM
I realize the daily counts are not a good indicator. I was actually referring to the total annual counts. I went back and took the final annual count at the Dalles and John Day. There should be atrition at each upstream dam, but looking at the last 10 years, the numbers are back and forth. Subtracting JohnDay from Dalles gives the following........+11K (2004) -13k(2003) -2k(2002) +20k(2001) -15k( 2000) -8k( 1999) -42k(1998) 8k(1997) 6k( 1996) 23k(1995) 19k(1994) and 29k(1993). The negative numbers indicate more fish went through the upstream John Day fish ladder, than through the Dalles ladder!!!! Weird.

To add to these strange stats during the last few blistering drought stricken summers, many believe that many of the steelhead get "stuck" BELOW the Dalles, not wishing to move upstream when the water is too warm. Then in September they rush up the Deschutes en mass, and the fishermen do not get a very good shot at them in the lower part of the river near the Columbia.

10-10-2005, 08:54 PM

The Dalles dam traditionally sees its first 'fresh' steelhead start to show up May 1st. Take the steelhead count on The Dalles from 5/1 and John Day from 5/15. Many steelhead overwinter in The Dalles pool and finish the migration the next year. Those show up in counts from 1/1 to about 5/15. Remember they shut down counting from approx. Dec 1 to March 31 in all projects except Bonn anf LWG.

If you are already pulling annual counts for this time frame it comes down to the entirely unreliable count numbers at John Day. For several years they are way off to what seem realistic from using The Dalles compared to McNary. As you have found out more often than not more fish are counted at John Day than what is reported going over The Dalles. Those fish never seem to make it over McNary.