The Fraser is missing about 80,000 salmon. The Columbia has about 76,000 extra. But it’s not a matter of migratory wrong turns.

This season’s Fraser River sockeye runs look like a colossal bust. The Vancouver Sun reports

"One count on the Early Stuart run on the Fraser River—one of the first runs to finish—found fewer than 10,000 of the expected 90,000 sockeye reached spawning grounds, said Don Radford, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ regional director of fisheries management."

"He said it’s likely that low water levels and higher-than-normal temperatures in the Fraser River killed fish or made them lethargic and easy to catch by hand from boats."

This season’s Columbia River Chinook salmon runs, in stark constrast, are boat swampers. The Seattle Times reports:

"Biologists expect the fall Chinook run to exceed 700,000 fish, far surpassing the preseason estimate of 634,000."

"Scientists say the strong showing is part of a cyclical shift in the ocean climate, which has made food more available, boosting salmon survival."

The natural variability of salmon runs is so great that short-term trends are lousy indicators of overall conditions in watersheds. That’s why salmon numbers are not part of the Cascadia Scorecard.