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Get eye to eye with thousands of salmon a day at Rocky Reach

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Get eye to eye with thousands of salmon a day at Rocky Reach

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July 16, 2012

(Wenatchee, WA) Right now is a great time to look a salmon in the eye at Rocky Reach Dam.

Each day in July, more than 20,000 adult sockeye and 2,000 adult Chinook salmon will make their way past the dam on the way upstream to spawn, offering a non-stop look at the large Pacific salmon through the fish viewing windows at Rocky Reach Visitor Center.

“This year, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife forecasts that more than 400,000 adult sockeye salmon will pass by the viewing windows at Rocky Reach Dam,” said Thad Mosey, Chelan County PUD fisheries biologist. “The fish runs in 2012 will provide a tremendous fish viewing opportunity for visitors at the dam.”

The Visitor Center is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day through Oct. 31, which is prime fish-viewing time, Mosey said. The big fish are most active during daytime hours.

The salmon are making their way up the Columbia River to spawning grounds in tributaries. Chelan PUD provides passage upstream for adult salmon and steelhead through its fish ladders at Rock Island and Rocky Reach dams. In the spring, young salmon and steelhead pass the dams on their migration to the ocean with help from a combination of spill and the one-of-a-kind fish bypass at Rocky Reach Dam.

Fish viewing should be excellent at Rocky Reach through Oct. 31, when the Visitor Center closes for the winter, Mosey said. Sockeye and summer Chinook salmon will be the primary travelers for the next month, and summer steelhead numbers will begin to increase in late July, reaching 200 to 300 steelhead daily in August and September. Summer/fall Chinook and steelhead will be the predominant species from August through November, with coho salmon arriving from mid-September into November.

Visit www.chelanpud.org/fish-counts.cfm for daily fish counts.

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