Hatchery releases of fish are necessary to rebuild fish populations and maintain sport fishing.
The steelhead are ready for release in the spring following their start in the Hatchery. The 8-inch long fish are called smolts and are ready to migrate to the ocean where thy will grow to a large size before returning to spawn and completing their life cycle.
The steelhead smolts are loaded onto fish tanker trucks with specialized fish pumps that suck the fish out of the rearing raceways. Each compartment on the tanker trucks is loaded with a specific weight of steelhead depending on the size of the smolts, the temperature of the water, and the distance of transport. The tanker trucks are fitted with liquid oxygen and aerators to maintain a constant supply of fresh oxygen to the smolts during the trip.
The tanker truck drivers check the smolts every hour during the journey to ensure that all life-support systems are operating properly. Once the smolts reach the release site, the driver checks the water temperature of the tanker with the water temperature at the site before releasing the smolts to their new home. The smolts will imprint on their release site and return to spawn as adults after their 900 mile journey to the ocean.
Last updated: April 14, 2009