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Magic Valley steelhead hatcheries help provide fishing opportunities on returning adult steelhead

Steelhead are an anadromous, or ocean-going trout that are native to Idaho. Over the last 60 plus years the migration-corridor of rivers has changed due to the construction of dams along the Snake and Columbia rivers. These changes in river dynamics have led agencies like Idaho Fish and Game, and corporate partners like Lower Snake River Compensation Plan (LSRCP) and Idaho Power Company to look to hatcheries to mitigate for reduced numbers of returning adults to Idaho.

Today, no anadromous steelhead or salmon naturally return to the Magic Valley Region. However, the Snake River aquifer does provide cold water that is critical for rearing steelhead.  Within the Magic Valley Region there are three steelhead hatcheries. Two hatcheries, the Hagerman National Hatchery and the Magic Valley Hatchery are owned and funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Lower Snake River Compensation Plan, and the Niagara Springs Steelhead Hatchery is owned and funded by Idaho Power Company. Idaho Fish and Game personnel operate all the steelhead hatcheries.

Mitigation goals for Magic Valley Hatcheries are 4.91 million steelhead smolts. By rearing millions of steelhead in hatcheries, hatchery operators can stock nearly five million steelhead smolt into Snake River drainages that will provide anglers an opportunity to pursue these fish when they return in one to two years.

After rearing millions of eggs taken from adult hatchery steelhead in Stanley, Riggins, Pahsimeroi, and Oxbow, Oregon, each hatchery must transport the young smolt to their respective release sites across central Idaho.

In April 2022, 210 truckloads of steelhead smolt consisting of 5,055,433 smolts were transported from the three Magic Valley hatcheries. Each truckload held close to 25,000 steelhead smolts.

Learn more about steelhead smolt here.

For more information about fish hatcheries in the Magic Valley Region contact the Regional Office at (208) 324-4359.