Steelhead Begins Spring
The river flows five or six miles per hour. That current just carried them into the ocean.
Now with all the dams in the way, it slowed that current down to less than half a mile an hour.
WENDELL -- Tucked in the Snake River Canyon sits the Niagara Springs Fish Hatchery.
Since the beginning of spring, Idaho Fish and Game began hauling about 1.8 million juvenile steelhead into Idaho Power's fish tanks.
The fish were then transported to the Snake River in three separate locations: Hells Canyon Dam, Pahsimeroi River and Little Salmon River. This marked the beginning of their 500-plus-mile journey to the Pacific Ocean.
"Once these fish are planted in these locations, they will start their migration to the ocean, and they'll spend two to three years in the ocean before returning as adults," said Todd Garlie, the fishery manager.
Garlie told KMVT they raise the fish to about nine inches long before releasing them into bigger bodies of water.
"In the wild it takes two years for a steelhead to reach smolt size," he explained. "Here at Niagara Springs with the warm water temperature we can produce steelhead smolt in a year."
Once the fish return to Idaho waters the cycle continues.
"They trap and spawn the adult steelhead returning from the ocean, and they provide eggs which we rear here for one year and then release to the ocean," he added.
But the fish must get past eight dams to get to the ocean, which poses as a problem in terms of how many of the creatures return.
"I think the river flows five or six miles per hour. That current just carried them into the ocean. Now with all the dams in the way, it slowed that current down to less than half a mile," Garlie continued.
Of the fish released, officials told me less than one percent of the 1.8 million fish returns to Idaho waters.
"This is why we have hatcheries, to increase survival rate," said Garlie..
learn more on topics covered in the film
see the video
read the script
learn the songs