Steelhead to be Stocked in the Boise River


Boise, ID

Date: November 3, 2003
Contact: Ed Mitchell
(208) 334-3700

Steelhead to be Stocked in the Boise River

If you're planning the traditional turkey dinner for Thanksgiving this year, you might want to rethink your plans. Fresh, smoked steelhead might be on the menu following the release of the big fish next week in the Boise River.

Approximately 350 hatchery steelhead will be stocked in the Boise River, from Glenwood Bridge to Barber Park, on Thursday, November 6. Fish and Game anticipates stocking the same number of fish on the two successive Thursdays, for a total of about 1,000 fish.

Besides a fishing license, anglers hoping to tangle with one of the four- to ten-pound hatchery steelhead need a $11.50 steelhead permit, good for 20 fish. Barbless hooks are not required for Boise River steelhead angling.

All steelhead stocked in the Boise River will lack an adipose fin (the small fin normally found immediately behind the dorsal fin). Boise River anglers catching a rainbow trout longer than 20 inches that lacks an adipose fin should consider the fish a steelhead. Any steelhead caught by an angler not holding a steelhead permit must immediately be returned to the water. Statewide steelhead limits are three fish per day, nine in possession, and 20 for the fall season.

The fish are A-run hatchery steelhead, returning to the Oxbow Hatchery fish trap below Hells Canyon Dam on the Snake River. The hatchery and the Hells Canyon complex of dams are owned by Idaho Power Company, who funds the operation of Oxbow Fish Hatchery. Many of the returning steelhead will become part of the ongoing steelhead hatchery program at Oxbow Hatchery. "Because of the size of this year's hatchery steelhead run, Oxbow Hatchery personnel are confident that their fish quota will easily be met," Fish and Game anadromous fish coordinator Bill Horton said. "Additional hatchery fish returning to the fish trap-- and there should be plenty of them--will be divided equally between Idaho Fish and Game, the Nez Perce Indian Tribe and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW)." The Nez Perce Tribe plans to release a portion of their fish in the Little Salmon River at Riggins with the balance to be used to feed tribal members, while the ODFW is stocking their fish in Hells Canyon Reservoir.

This year's strong hatchery steelhead run is made up primarily of fish spending only one year in the ocean (hence the smaller four- to six-pound size of most of the fish). The high number of returning fish is attributed to good water runoff which pushed the fish to the ocean in 2002 as smolts, and improved ocean conditions that led to increased food availability and greater survival of these ocean-going (anadromous) rainbow trout. "We will see some larger steelhead --in the seven- to ten-pound class-- returning this year, fish that went to the ocean in 2001," Horton said. "But because 2001 was a poor runoff year, these larger steelhead will likely make up only a small portion of this year's steelhead run." A few three-ocean fish --15 to 20 pound monsters--will also be part of this year's hatchery steelhead run.

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