A steelhead smolt sensation

Idaho Press –

Magic Valley steelhead hatcheries rear over 5 million steelhead smolts each year to provide fishing opportunity to anglers.

Each year, steelhead anglers throughout the state reap the benefits of fish reared in Magic Valley steelhead hatcheries. Because of the area’s cold clean water, three local Idaho Fish and Game hatcheries in the Snake River canyon raise steelhead that will ultimately be released as smolts to begin their migration to the Pacific Ocean. Depending on the strain of either an A-Run or B-run, Idaho steelhead will spend the next 1-2 years maturing in the saltwater before returning to Idaho. Steelhead have an anadromous life history that begins in freshwater. As smolts, they migrate to the ocean to mature, and return to freshwater as adults to spawn.

Beginning in late spring, regional staff from the Magic Valley, Niagara Springs, and Hagerman National fish hatcheries rear approximately 5 million steelhead from eggs taken from adults at various hatcheries around the state. Over the next eleven months, the young steelhead grow, reaching approximately 8.5 inches in length and weighing nearly four ounces, the perfect size for smolt to begin their migration to the Pacific Ocean.

After hatching and growing for three months in raceways inside hatchery buildings, local hatchery crews move the small fry to outside raceways in August.

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