Understanding Columbia River Dam Counts - Fly Fishing Forum
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Old 07-06-2003, 09:01 PM
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Understanding Columbia River Dam Counts

I've got a question for 'ya all that maybe atleast one of 'ya can answer...

I have never really bothered paying attention to the dam counts and thus have never really identified a pattern that can be followed to understand if the steelies have made their way into a favorite trib. or two.

But, begining last year and hopefully continuing this year, I am spending more time on Columbia River tribs...

So, say, hypothetically, I want to get an estimate of the number of fish in the trib.s between Bonnneville and John Day...so I look at the counts at both Bonneville and John Day and do notice a differance but what is the delay (time taken for fish to travel from dam to another)I should be looking for, if in fact I should even bother with that?...or do most of you just look at a general differance over say a week's time and figure those fish headed for tributaries between say Bonneville and John Day.

And what are the threshhold(s) you look for as in is there a certain number you look for over a certain dam(s) to figure that there will be enough fish in the trib.s above that dam?

Thanks in advance!!
Ryan S. Petzold
aka Sparkey and/or Special
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Old 07-06-2003, 10:57 PM
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It all depends on water temps! And there is no reliable way to tell by sitting at the computer!

Make sure that you are counting this years run- based on the '04 counts you can safely go by 5/1 for Bonn and 5/28 for John Day. Normal passage, with water temps under 72F, between the two dams runs in the 2 to 4 week range. If the river boils they will all but stop moving. If this year is like the past several, expect that there will be at least 200K steelhead holed up in the Bonn pool and almost half of those will 'disappear'.

For what it is worth, the JD counts are whacky- I don't even bother to look at the dam anymore. Over the past several years it seems that there are nearly the same number of fish counted over it and the Dalles. Maybe the Dalles is undercounting???

The conversion rate between Bonn and the Dalles is running as high as I can recall (or research) for this early in the season. It also looks like most of the fish are scooting towards Idaho.

Anytime you are getting over a 1000 fish/day over the dams you are bound to find a couple in the tribs!


Last edited by inland; 07-06-2003 at 11:07 PM.
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