It is common to hear hatchery folk saying things like, “it’s time to split the steelhead again” or “the fish are getting crowded, let’s split ‘em”. But what on earth does that mean? Rest assured we aren’t cutting the fish in half; rather we are moving fish from one pond into several.
There are a few reason we split our fish here at Dworshak. The main reason is that at some point the fish get too large for their current pond, or there are too many fish in the pond, and become crowded. If fish are crowded they become stressed and are more likely to get sick. Steelhead are more likely to become aggressive and nip at fins when they are crowded so this is another reason to split the fish. Fin loss and fin erosion can also lead to disease. Since our goal is to raise healthy, high quality fish we defiantly don’t want to keep the fish stressed or over crowded.
|Crowding fish, the pipe on the left is the inlet to the fish pump.|
|This marking trailer will clip fins and tag our Chinook salmon.|
It will take about two weeks for the tagging team to split, mark, and tag our 1.8 million Chinook. But once those fish are moved they will remain in their new pond until March, at which point they will be released into the North Fork Clearwater River. If any of these fish end up on your fishing line when they return as adults, you may split them however you like!