BOISE -- Around 1.8 million juvenile rainbow trout -- known as steelhead when they migrate to the sea -- will begin their journey to the Pacific Ocean this week. That's because Idaho Power crews will be trucking them to various rivers in Idaho.
The fish, known as smolt, are 8 to 9-inches long, and have been raised in the Niagara Springs Hatchery south of Wendell.
These ocean travelers need human help to navigate at least four dams on the Snake River, four dams on the Columbia River, natural predators, and 570-miles of traveling before they reach their destination.
That's why Idaho Power's fish management program was created.
Under a government agreement, the company is required to help the creatures as part of its federal license to operate hydroelectric projects.
Crews plan to release the fish from now through mid April. They'll be hauling the steelhead to the Snake River below the Hells Canyon Dam, along with the Pahsimeroi and Little Salmon Rivers.
Once in the Pacific Ocean, the steelhead will grow and live for approximately two years before they return to the Columbia and Snake rivers to spawn. Some of those fish will be captured by the Idaho Power fish trap in the Hells Canyon Dam. Those fish are artificially spawned, and the cycle continues.
For more information, check out the Idaho Power fish management program online.