We just returned yesterday from a 3-day Hells Canyon trip. We had a great time, great weather and great guests- you could say we are pretty grateful for our work and our public lands in which we get to recreate. Spring time in Hells Canyon means many things: wildflowers, cool mornings, hot afternoons, blossoms, high water, snake river fishing, solitude, serenity and the list goes on. Spring is one of our favorite seasons for boating- and the weather in Hells Canyon is surprisingly great! And with all that combined, there is something very interesting that happens at the take-out: Pittsburgh Landing, each year. A very elaborate scheme with a dozen or so holding tanks, generators, pumps and even a full time employee moves in starting in February and stays until about April. The fall Chinook Salmon are being acclimated to the river’s water in order to be released. The pumps bring river water up and into the tanks where 500,000+ salmon are swimming, waiting for the big realease in order to improve the Snake River fishing population.
Because of the dams, the fish have a very hard time making it back up the Snake River. At one time in history, the Snake River housed the world’s second largest Salmon Run (second of course to Alaska). Since the dams were put in, the Salmon run is highly regulated and very costly. CLICK HERE for a well done report from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. If you don’t want to read the whole report, here are some of the highlights specifically referring to the Pittsburgh Landing site. If you’re lucky enough to see the Snake River fishing acclimation site in Spring, knowing why it’s there is really quite helpful, so read on for more information.
1996 Operation of the Pittsburg Landing Acclimation Facility (Project 199801005) began with a total of 114,000 fall chinook yearling acclimated and released. Adult fall chinook salmon passage over Lower Granite Dam: 1308 adults – 424 jacks 1997 Pittsburg Landing and Big Canyon (Project 199801008) acclimation facilities were operated with 345,000 yearlings and 253,000 sub-yearlings acclimated and released. Pittsburg Landing released 147,000 yearlings and Big Canyon 198,000 yearlings and 253,000 sub-yearlings. Funding for operations and maintenance provided directly from BPA starting in 1997. Adult fall chinook salmon passage over Lower Granite Dam: 1451 adults – 504 jacks
1998 Pittsburg Landing, Big Canyon and Capt. John Rapids acclimation facilities operated with 336,000 yearlings acclimated and released. Pittsburg Landing released 142,000, Big Canyon 61,000 and Capt. John Rapids 133,000. Adult fall chinook salmon passage over Lower Granite Dam: 1909 adults – 2002 jacks 1999 All three acclimation facilities operated with 530,000 yearling and 670,000 sub-yearling fish acclimated and released. Pittsburg Landing released 143,000 yearlings, Big Canyon 230,000 yearlings and 347,000 sub-yearlings and Capt. John Rapids 157,000 yearlings and 323,000 sub-yearling fish. Adult fall chinook salmon passage over Lower Granite Dam: 3384 adults – 1863 jacks
2000 All three acclimation facilities operated with 397,000 yearlings and 2,182,000 subyearlings acclimated and released. Pittsburg Landing released 135,000 yearlings and 399,000 sub-yearlings; Big Canyon 131,000 yearlings and 890,000 sub-yearlings; Capt. John Rapids 131,000 yearlings and 893,000 sub-yearlings. Adult fall chinook salmon passage over Lower Granite Dam: 3602 adults – 7112 jacks
2001 All three acclimation facilities operated with 327,000 yearlings and 1,732,000 subyearlings acclimated and released. Pittsburg Landing released 104,000 yearlings and 374,000 sub-yearlings; Big Canyon 113,000 yearling and 856,000 sub-yearlings; Capt. John Rapids 102,000 yearlings and 501,000 sub-yearlings.