Steelhead Arriving at Dworshak Ladder
by Eric Barker
Steelhead are piling into the fish ladder at Dworshak National Fish Hatchery. Through Tuesday, 376 had been counted there, which is far ahead of schedule, according to Ralph Roseberg, fisheries biologist.
"It's really really unusually early for me to have this many steelhead in the hatchery," he said.
Roseberg expects to close the ladder as early as next week. The ladder is closed as soon as 500 early returning steelhead are trapped. The rest of the fish needed for hatchery spawning -- about 2,500 -- will be trapped in the spring.
As of Tuesday more than 100,000 steelhead had been counted as they climbed the ladder over Lower Granite Dam.
Roseberg said anglers should not be shy about keeping hatchery-raised steelhead. He expects to easily trap the number of fish needed for spawning. Roseberg said some anglers release female steelhead because they believe that will help the hatchery meet its goals. Not so, he said. The hatchery tries to spawn one male with one female and often has more females than it needs.
Roseberg retrieved two radio transmitters from steelhead while sorting fish Tuesday. The transmitters are implanted in the mouths of adult steelhead by researchers from the University of Idaho. The university offers rewards to anglers who catch fish with the devices.
For the simple type that simply sends a radio signal that the researchers can track, the school pays $25. There is a $100 reward for a more sophisticated but less common transmitter that also records the depth and temperature of water the fish travels in.
Fish implanted with the radio transmitters will have a black thin wire sticking out of their mouths. Roseberg says the transmitters are prone to break and should be removed with care. The transmitters have addresses on them where they may be returned and the reward collected.
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