Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
COLEMAN NFH: Over Half-a-Million Steelhead Smolts Released Into the Sacramento River
California-Nevada Offices , January 16, 2009
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Coleman National Fish Hatchery employee John Silva releases steelhead into the Sacramento River. (photo courtesy Jeff Freund)
Coleman National Fish Hatchery employee John Silva releases steelhead into the Sacramento River. (photo courtesy Jeff Freund) - Photo Credit: n/a

by Brett Galyean, Coleman NFH

The Coleman National Fish Hatchery located near Anderson, Calif., released 666,758 steelhead trout into the Sacramento River January 16, 2009.  The hatchery is located on Battle Creek, five miles upstream from the confluence of Battle Creek and the Sacramento River.


Steelhead is a rainbow trout that spends the first part of its life in freshwater before migrating to the ocean where they can live up to several years before returning to freshwater for spawning. However, unlike Pacific salmon, steelhead do not die after spawning and can spawn more than once. The steelhead released in January averaged about eight inches in length and had been raised at the hatchery for 11 months, starting in February 2008. Additionally, all of the steelhead had their adipose fin removed, which provides anglers an easy way to identify hatchery reared fish from naturally produced (wild) steelhead.  The operation of transporting over a half million steelhead from the hatchery to the main stem Sacramento River began January 7, and took eight days to complete.  Hatchery employees used two distribution trucks to transport the steelhead from the hatchery to the release point near Bend Bridge, averaging about eight trips each day.  


From Bend Bridge, the steelhead will continue to migrate down the Sacramento River through San Francisco Bay out into the Pacific Ocean. After spending 1 to 3 years in the ocean the Steelhead will return as adults to the hatchery where they will be spawned and the life cycle will continue.  Releasing the steelhead into the main stem of the Sacramento River allows for a shorter migration time in the Sacramento River system, minimizing the potential predation and/or competition on natural origin salmonids by the steelhead.  


The steelhead raised at Coleman National Fish Hatchery contributes to the sport fishery on the Sacramento River and also provides adequate adult fish to support future broodstock programs. The Service’s Coleman NFH remains committed to fulfilling the station’s responsibility by meeting fish production goals which help offset impacts of Shasta and Keswick dams in northern California.

Naturally occurring steelhead trout are listed as threatened species along the northern and central coast of California, and listed as endangered in southern California.  Special fishing regulations apply to steelhead fishing in California and can be found online at: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations/index.html


Contact Info: Brett Galyean, 530-365-8622, brett_galyean@fws.gov
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