STANLEY, Idaho (KLIX) – The first of this season’s sockeye salmon have returned to Stanley.
The fish returned July 26 to the Redfish lake Creek trap, a day earlier than fish returned last year, according to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

The fish, which complete a 900-mile migration from the Pacific Ocean, is among the 233 sockeye that have crossed the Lower Granite Dam near Lewiston, the last of eight dams the fish cross before reaching Idaho. In all, the fish must swim an elevation of 6,500 feet to reach the Sawtooth Basin.

Fish and Game says that sockeye runs are not as big as they used to be, but the numbers are improving, noting that between 1996 and 2007 annual sockeye returns over Lower Granite averaged just 52 fish.

The 2018 sockeye run through Lower Granite has already topped last year’s total of 228 fish, which was the lowest return in a decade. Since 2008, sockeye returns over Lower Granite have averaged 1,115 fish with an annual range of 228 to a high of 2,786 in 2014.