The Silver Blade newspaper in Rathdrum ran a report on fisheries on the Columbia August 19, 1899, that said, “The records for catching sockeye salmon were broken one day last week. At the Pacific-American Fisheries company’s cannery 136,000 were received. Of these 80,000 were sockeyes.”
That same year, the Cottonwood Report noted an estimated sockeye salmon pack of Puget Sound to 510,000 cases for the year.
The installation of dams on the Columbia and other manmade issues caused a dramatic drop in wild sockeye making their way back to Idaho. Fewer than 50 returned to Redfish Lake in 1958.
In 1991 the species was declared endangered. In 1992 a single fish, nicknamed Lonesome Larry, made it back to Redfish Lake.
The most recent ten-year average has been 690 returning to the Sawtooth Basin. In 2017 157 fish returned. This year only 53 had made it past the Lower Granite Dam at the time this post was scheduled.
Today, the Eagle Island Fish Hatchery raises sockeye salmon near Boise in an attempt to keep the fish from going extinct.