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Steelhead are headed to the Boise River on Nov. 18

Anglers in Boise – we have a date: On Friday, Nov. 18, Fish and Game will be stocking 125 steelhead between five locations on the Boise River:

  • Glenwood Bridge
  • Americana Bridge
  • Below the Broadway Avenue Bridge behind Boise State University
  • West Parkcenter Bridge
  • Barber Park

In addition to a valid fishing license, anglers looking to hook one of the hatchery steelhead need a steelhead permit. Permits can be purchased at any Fish and Game office or numerous vendors across the state.

Boise River steelhead limits are two fish per day, six in possession, and 20 for the fall season. Though required in other steelhead waters, barbless hooks are not required for Boise River steelhead angling.

All steelhead stocked in the Boise River will lack an adipose fin (the small fin normally found immediately behind the dorsal fin). Boise River anglers catching a rainbow trout longer than 20 inches that lacks an adipose fin should consider the fish a steelhead. Any steelhead caught by an angler not holding a steelhead permit must immediately be returned to the water, and it is illegal to target steelhead without a steelhead permit.

For more information regarding the Boise River steelhead release, contact the Fish and Game Southwest Regional Office in Nampa or call (208) 465-8465. Check this video from the 2020 Boise River steelhead release or visit the department’s website to learn more.

Every year since 1997 — with the exception of 2019 —  Idaho Fish and Game has stocked steelhead in the Boise River, and fishing for them has become a popular November tradition for anglers.

The steelhead stocked in the Boise River are among the A-run hatchery steelhead that return to the Idaho Power Company-owned and funded Oxbow Hatchery fish trap, which is located below Hells Canyon Dam on the Snake River.

About 600 of the returning steelhead will become part of the ongoing steelhead hatchery program at Oxbow Hatchery as part of Idaho Power Company’s mitigation for the effects on salmon and steelhead of the Brownlee, Oxbow and Hells Canyon dams.

Eggs are incubated at the hatchery until early May and then transferred to Niagara Springs Fish Hatchery, which is also owned and financed by Idaho Power Company, and staffed by Fish and Game. In March, young steelhead have reached smolt size and are hauled in tankers to the Snake River  and released below Hells Canyon Dam to begin their 570-mile migration to the Pacific Ocean.

Steelhead that are trapped but not needed as broodstock, are released into sport fisheries — such as the Boise River — or distributed to Native American tribes for ceremonial and subsistence purposes.