Spring for the Nampa Fish hatchery is like November and December for the Post Office, and that’s a good thing for anglers.
“This is our big push in May and June,” Hatchery Manager Bob Becker said. “We will all but empty the hatchery between now and the Fourth of July.”
About 680,000 trout, mostly rainbows in the 10 to 12-inch range, will soon be swimming in a lake, reservoir, pond or river near you. Of those, 357,000 were raised at the Nampa hatchery. They’re timed to coincide with prime fishing periods, such as Memorial Day weekend, and Fish and Game wants to ensure anglers have something to catch on their next outing.
If anglers want to see where the trout have been stocked, they can go to Fish and Game’s fish stocking page.
Stocking will be a little different than in recent years. Because of the large snowpack and high river conditions, most rivers won’t be stocked until they recede enough for anglers to have a realistic chance at catching those fish, which is the purpose of the hatchery trout. Trout scheduled to be stocked in rivers will be transferred to other waters, but when the flows come down, crews will resume stocking rivers and streams.
The Nampa Fish Hatchery’s crews and tanker trucks will deliver fish to nearly all the waters in southwest Idaho, and also truck fish to other hatcheries to be held and released later into nearby waters. Becker said the trout produced at the Nampa hatchery are stocked from the Nevada border north to the Canadian border and even a handful of mountain lakes in the Stanley Basin.
The hatchery is a tucked away on 7 acres in south Nampa, but its size is deceptive for the number of fish it produces. Becker credits the hatchery’s eight artesian wells that pump clean, 59-degree water year round.
“It’s the ideal temperature for growing trout,” he said.
The hatchery’s trout grow on average about an inch a month, so in as little as a few months, it can produce fingerlings ready to stock and grow naturally. But the majority of the fish raised are 10-inchers, which are the standard size trout for ponds and small lakes and reservoirs. Becker said the hatchery can grow a 10-inch trout for about $.27 cents of trout food.
“Were able to turn out a quality product at a reduced cost,” Becker said.
The hatchery also grows 12-inch “magnums” for stocking in larger lakes and reservoirs. The larger fish survive better and are caught at a higher rate than their smaller cousins, but also must be fed about 75 percent more food to reach that size.
Nampa produces a lot of rainbow trout, but it’s only fraction of the overall fish that Fish and Game hatcheries produce, and with the recent hunting and fishing license fee increase, the department plans to increase its fish production for anglers.
Department crews currently stock more than 22 million fish annually from its hatcheries, including fry, fingerlings and catchable fish from 18 species.
Here's more about Idaho's hatcheries and fish stocking.