About 1.8 million young steelhead are on their way to the Pacific Ocean or will be soon as Idaho Power completes its annual fish-hauling operation from the Niagara Springs hatchery near Wendell.
Some of these fish will return in 1 to 3 years to become prized targets for Snake River anglers.
Eggs arrive at the hatchery each May from adult steelhead spawned at Idaho Power hatcheries in the Snake and Salmon river basins. Idaho Department of Fish and Game personnel raise the eggs to juvenile steelhead, called smolts. In March of the following year, crews begin hauling the year-old fish back to the Snake, Little Salmon, and Pahsimeroi rivers, where they begin a journey of more than 500 miles to the Pacific Ocean. The spring fish haul takes about six weeks.
Niagara Springs is one of America’s largest privately-owned steelhead rearing facilities. The spring water provides an ideal environment that allows the fish to achieve the equivalent of two years growth in just one year’s time.
Idaho Power’s hatchery program is part of the company’s commitment to stewardship of the Snake River and fulfilling requirements of its federal license to operate its three hydroelectric power projects in Hells Canyon.
More information about Idaho Power’s fish conservation programs can be found at idahopower.com/fish.