Fish populations

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What we know about fish populations in lower Columbia River

Salmon Numbers Still Depressed

Our region supports tremendous fish diversity with 74 populations of salmon, steelhead, and bull trout. However, only eight are at or above abundance recovery goals.

  • Most fall Chinook populations remain at a high or very high risk due to low numbers of natural-spawning fish and competition with hatchery fish on spawning grounds. Work is underway to reduce these impacts, but improvements in habitat also are needed.
  • Spring Chinook require successful reintroduction efforts upstream of dams.
  • Chum populations are also at high to very high risk due to very low abundance, with the exception of Grays River and Columbia main stem spawners.
  • Coho abundance levels are below recovery goals. Long-term trends are difficult to assess because of limited data and recent low ocean survival rates.
  • Steelhead abundance is low, but we’re seeing moderate improvements in several winter- and summer-run populations.

Indicator data

Adult Abundance Summary Table

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s estimates for the Washougal population of chum salmon reflect primarily Columbia River mainstem spawners. Monitoring of chum is limited to presence/absence surveys in most watersheds because of extremely low chum abundance levels. Monitoring will increase with abundance improvements.
Comprehensive coho monitoring started in 2010, which limits the amount of long-term data.
Mass marking of Chinook salmon started in 2005 and was fully realized in returning adults in 2010 and 2011. This limits long-term data availability.
Adult Fish Abundance

What does this indicator mean?

Endangered Species Act (ESA) – listed adult abundance

Juvenile Fish Abundance

What does this indicator mean?

More data needed

More data is needed to determine region-wide trends for young fish. The limited data available shows 14 populations increasing in numbers and 7 declining.

Visit How we measure for background about this data, and our Salmon Data Portal for original source data behind the indicator charts and graphs used throughout this site.