Despite a year dominated by Covid-19, hatchery staff and fish marking crews worked fairly undisrupted in 2020. Hatchery staff stayed busy releasing Chinook salmon and steelhead smolts at locations along the Clearwater river and tributaries. Chinook salmon smolts released spring 2020 were spawned out at Clearwater hatchery as eggs in 2018. Steelhead smolts released this past spring were spawned out as eggs in 2019. Hatchery staff also kept up with daily feeding, cleaning raceways and stocking fish into 22 waterbodies across the Clearwater region throughout the spring, summer and into October.
Fish marking trailer crew members traveled to hatcheries across the state to mark millions of fish with a coded wire tag and/or an adipose fin clip. Crews marked hundreds of thousand fish with a PIT tag in 2020.
Chinook salmon and Steelhead smolt releases
In March and April of 2020, Clearwater hatchery staff hauled over 3.5 million Chinook smolts to Red River, Powell, Selway, North Fork Clearwater and Clear Creek release sites. Nearly 650,000 steelhead smolts were released at Meadow Creek, Red House & Newsome Creek along the South Fork Clearwater river. Smolts were released to be sent on their way to the ocean. Chinook and steelhead were fed a total of over 300,000 lbs of food during their time at the hatchery....that's nearly 150 ton of fish food!
Smolt hauling trucks loaded up and ready to go!
Smolt release along Clearwater River
Hatchery staff stocked 119,019 rainbow trout across 22 different locations. Over 2,505 Tiger Trout were stocked into Deer Creek Reservoir, as well as 2,500 Brook Trout fingerlings. A total of 2,679 Channel Catfish were stocked between Mann Lake, Tolo Lake, and Winchester Lake.
Fish stocking at Dworshak Reservoir
Fish marking staff traveled to nine hatcheries across Idaho including; Clearwater, Hagerman, Magic Valley, McCall, Niagrara Springs, Pahsimeroi, Rapid River, Sawtooth and Springfield hatcheries. Over 17 million fish were tagged with a coded wire tags and/or were adipose fin clipped. Nearly 390,000 fish received a PIT tag at these nine hatchery locations throughout the state.
Inside of fish marking trailer
Coded wire tag in snout
PIT (Passive Integrated Transponder) tag
If you haven't had the opportunity to see how a fish marking trailer works, it is quite impressive. Click on the 5-minute video below to learn more about fish marking trailer operations.