The first week of November has traditionally been when Idaho Fish and Game trucks steelhead from Hells Canyon to the Boise River, but it won’t happen this week, and may not happen at all this year because of low steelhead returns to the Snake River, Fish and Game officials said.
The planting is popular with Treasure Valley steelhead anglers, who line the banks near stocking areas for the chance to land a big, sea-run fish. The department typically stocks between 500 and 1,000 fish in the river during November.
Steelhead trapping has just started at Hells Canyon, but based on tagged fish counted at Lower Granite Dam downstream, the Snake River portion of the run is down. Fish that return to Hells Canyon are primarily used to replenish hatcheries, and any steelhead beyond what’s need for egg production are split equally between Idaho, Oregon and the Nez Perce Tribe.
If enough fish return, F&G could still bring some to the river. Stocking didn’t start until mid November last year, and the department ended up bringing about 500 fish to the Boise River. This year’s run total Snake River steelhead run is slightly larger than last year’s but that includes fish heading for the Clearwater, Salmon and other rivers.
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.