The Hatchery Process
The steelhead trout, the sea run form of the rainbow trout, is one of the most popular game fish in the northwest. Because the construction and operation of the dams seriously harm migrating salmon and steelhead, the Lower Snake River Compensation Plan was authorized by Congress to mitigate for these losses. Hatchery production is part of that effort.
Approximately 1.4 million steelhead are produced here at the Hagerman National Fish hatchery and are transported to the Salmon River drainage for release each year.
At special facilities in the Salmon river drainage, some two hundred miles away, fish are collected and inspected by hatchery workers. Eggs are taken from females and fertilized with sperm from males, they are then brought to Hagerman National Fish Hatchery for incubation.
Young fry are cared for in rearing troughs located in the hatchery buildings.
When fry reach two inches in length, the fish are moved to outside raceways and will reside there for about nine months.
Fish are released in to the wild habitat when they reach smolt age and are seven to nine inches long.