Bull Trout Swim Past Glines Canyon; Migratory Fish Return to Upper Elwha River for the First Time in Over a Century

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Date: September 5, 2014
Contact: Barb Maynes, 360-565-3005
Contact: Rainey McKenna, 360-565-2985

Thanks to a radiotracking program begun this spring, fisheries biologists confirmed yesterday that two radio tagged bull trout have migrated through Glines Canyon and are now upstream of the former Lake Mills in Rica Canyon.

Two other bull trout have also been detected above Glines Canyon, but were not located during the ground survey yesterday.Biologists will use fixed-wing aircraft to conduct watershed-wide surveys this fall.

"To witness these first fish to migrate above Glines Canyon is both amazing and inspiring," said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum.

Both of the fish currently in Rica Canyon were tagged earlier this summer at locations below the former Elwha dam site.

The radiotracking program is possible through partnerships with the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Washington's National Park Fund, allowing biologists to monitor the movements of radio-tagged salmonids in the Elwha River.

Each fish is equipped with a a uniquely coded radio transmitter that differentiates it from all other tagged fish. Radio signals from the tags are then detected by radio receivers and antennas.Six telemetry stations were installed between the mouth of the river and just above the Glines Canyon dam site. These stations continually scan for and record data, documenting when individual fish pass by each station.Biologists also manually track fish between Rica Canyon and the river mouth using handheld radio receivers and antennas.

Eighty-seven anadromous fish have been radio-tagged so far.Of that total, 13 bull trout, 2 winter steelhead, 5 Chinook and one sockeye salmon have been located above the old Elwha dam site.

More details on the migratory bull trout located above Glines Canyon yesterday.

  • Fish #167 was captured and radiotagged on May 7 approximately 3.5 miles above the river's mouth.Before releasing the fish, biologists recorded its length as 19 inches.This fish swam through the old Elwha dam site in late July and was detected above Glines Canyon in early August, before the last chunk of the dam was demolished on August 26.
  • Fish #200, measuring 20.5 inches, was radio-tagged on June 25 about a mile and a half upstream of the river's mouth.This fish swam past the Elwha dam site on July 20 and swam through Glines Canyon on August 24, just before the final blast.
  • Bull trout are among the smallest of Pacific salmonids, and are federally listed as a threatened species.
  • Rica Canyon is upstream of the former Lake Mills and begins about 2.5 miles above Glines Canyon.

Background and more information about the salmonid radiotracking program and Elwha River Restoration can be found at the Olympic National Park website: https://www.nps.gov/olym/naturescience/damremovalblog.htm

Last updated: February 28, 2015

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