Federal fisheries officials expect just a few thousand salmon to spawn in the world famous Adams River sockeye run this fall.
This year is considered an "off-cycle" year for late Shuswap stocks, which are expected to number about 8,000 in total based on early estimates.
"That's not unusual," said Les Jantz, Department of Fisheries and Oceans acting area director. "Off-cycle years are really off cycle."
This year's estimate compares to 10 million sockeye that returned to the river in 2010, a dominant year in the cycle that produced a historical record.
Last year was a sub-dominant year that also surprised experts when 400,000 to 500,000 sockeye return to the Adams River, a 10-fold increase on early predictions.
This year's off-cycle coincides with poor early returns of sockeye in other Fraser River system runs. Total returns are estimated at 2.1-million fish, making it unlikely there will be any commercial or sport fishery for sockeye this year, according to DFO.
The native food and ceremonial fishery will continue.
Shuswap conservationist Jim Cooperman said any viewing activity this year on the Adams River will likely be scaled down to the Thanksgiving long weekend.
But he said news of poor returns of sockeye in other parts of the Fraser River is distressing and could be a warning that strong runs in the past two years were a fluke.
He blames fish farming and warming oceans for the decline.
The next significant year for returns is 2014. Cooperman said all eyes will be on the run because a record return in 2010 should provide bountiful stocks and huge numbers four years later.