Spring-loaded: Steelhead Start their Long Trip from Wendell to the Pacific Ocean

The beginning of spring marks the start of steelhead migration from Idaho Power’s Niagara Springs fish hatchery near Wendell.

About 1.8 million juvenile steelhead were hauled in one of Idaho Power’s three fish tankers to the Snake River below Hells Canyon Dam and to the Pahsimeroi and Little Salmon rivers last week.

After being released into the river, these 6- to 8-inch-long fish begin a journey of 500-plus miles to the Pacific Ocean. Those that survive the journey will spend a year or two in the ocean, growing into the prized game fish that draw hundreds of anglers to Idaho rivers in the fall and winter.

Some of the adult steelhead that make the return journey upstream will be captured in Idaho Power traps below Hells Canyon Dam and near our Pahsimeroi hatchery. Those adults will be spawned and the fertilized eggs taken to Niagara Springs to begin the cycle again.

Niagara Springs provides an ideal environment for raising steelhead because of the clean water flowing from the canyon wall at a constant year-round temperature of 58 degrees. The hatchery itself was rebuilt in 2013 and is one of the largest steelhead rearing facilities in Idaho.

For more information, visit idahopower.com/fish.

Media note: Video and additional photos of the hauling operation are available upon request.

Brad Bowlin
Communications Specialist