The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) released 900,000 steelhead smolts from its Central Valley hatcheries in February.
The year-old, 6- to 8-inch steelhead will flow down the Sacramento River into San Francisco Bay, then to the Pacific Ocean to feed and grow. In one to three years, the adults will return to the river waters in which they were raised.
The steelhead came from three hatcheries:
-The Feather River Hatchery released more than 400,000 steelhead smolts into the Feather River near Marysville;
-The Nimbus Hatchery released more than 315,500 steelhead smolts into the American River near the Howe Avenue Bridge in Sacramento;
-The Mokelumne River Hatchery released 185,000 steelhead smolts into the Mokelume River at New Hope Landing.
Dams on the Feather, American and Mokelumne Rivers prevent steelhead and salmon from reaching most of their historic spawning areas. CDFW operates hatcheries on each of these rivers to mitigate for the loss of spawning habitat and maintain salmon and steelhead populations.
Image courtesy California Department of Fish and Wildlife