Friday, March 8, 2013

Returning to the Clearwater

One of the most common questions we get at the Hatchery is, “What happens to the Steelhead after they are spawned?”
Rob Bohn puts a female steelhead onto the transfer truck

There are several ways we distribute steelhead after spawning. If the fish were killed for spawning and are in good shape we donate them to our local food bank (see Maximizing Use of the Resource) or use the fish for anatomy lessons at our Hatchery in the Classroom schools (see Something Fishy). But if the fish is live spawned- like we have been doing the past few weeks for the kelt project- we out-plant them back into the Clearwater River. 
A few anglers taking advantage of a beautiful day on the Clearwater River

Out-planting is just a fancy way of saying we put the fish back into the river. There the steelhead can complete its life cycle and also be available for Tribal or sport harvest. 

Today we returned 437 adult steelhead back to the Clearwater River. Some of these fish had been held at the hatchery for a few weeks but never ripened. Others were unclipped “wild” steelhead that came up the fish ladder. These fish are now free to spawn in the River and contribute to the natural steelhead population. Perhaps they will spawn and return to the ocean as kelts. All the fish that were spawned at the Hatchery and returned to the Clearwater today were PIT tagged so their journey either up river to the South Fork, or down river through Lower Granite Dam, can be tracked. 

Whatever their fate, the fish are back in nature. 

by Angela Feldmann

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