WENDELL, Idaho – Just as they do every year, steelhead are making the long journey from Wendell to the Pacific Ocean.

The annual steelhead migration is underway, according to Idaho Power Co., which manages the Niagara Springs Fish Hatchery near Wendell. The first part of their journey to the ocean is the easiest, thanks to the utility company.

Photo courtesy of Idaho Power

The company hauled about 1.8 million steelhead to the Snake River below Hells Canyon Dam and to the Pahsimeroi and Little Salmon rivers last week, the company said, where the 6- to 8-inch fish begin their 500-mile journey to the Pacific.

Those that survive the journey will spend a year or two in the ocean, growing into the prized game fish that draw hundreds of anglers to Idaho rivers in the fall and winter.

Some adult steelhead that return upstream will be captured in Idaho Power traps below Hells Canyon Dam, where they will be spawned. After that the fertilized eggs will be taken to Niagara Springs to begin the cycle again.