Photo by Roger Phillips
Don’t give up hope, but don’t get too excited, either. Idaho Fish and Game’s southwest region fish manager Joe Kozfkay said the number of steelhead returning to Hells Canyon Dam isn’t looking favorable for stocking the Boise River, but F&G might be able to stock about 100 fish right before Thanksgiving if enough fish return.
The planting is popular with Treasure Valley steelhead anglers, who line the banks near stocking areas for a chance to land a sea-run fish that typically weigh between 4 and 10 pounds. Last year, F&G stocked about 500 steelhead in the Boise River, and in past years, it has stocked between 500 and 1,000 steelhead, usually on several consecutive weeks in November.
Steelhead that return to Hells Canyon are primarily used to replenish hatcheries, and surplus fish beyond what’s need for egg production are split equally between Idaho, Oregon and the Nez Perce Tribe.
The steelhead planting has become a November tradition in the Treasure Valley. According the Idaho Statesman archives, 2002 was the last year F&G did not plant steelhead in the Boise River.