Millions of steelhead smolt released into state waters in 2013

Millions of steelhead smolts released across the region in 2013 should grow up and return as adults during this winter and next summer.

Last week, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife released preliminary counts of the smolts released into waters such as the Green, Skokomish, Elwha, Quinault and Cowlitz rivers.

The smolts are small steelhead, with a minimum size of 10 fish per pound. They were released by state, tribal, federal and regional enhancement groups between April 15 and May 31, 2013.

Releases in the Green River included 97,355 winter-run fish and 30,482 summer-run fish. While some of those fish were placed into the river’s main stem, the majority were placed in Icy and Big Soos creeks.

There were 22,717 winter-run steelhead released into the South Fork Skokomish River.

The count for the Puyallup River system was not included in the preliminary figures.

For some Puget Sound waters, this was perhaps the final release of hatchery fish. Earlier this year, the department agreed to stop stocking some rivers to ward off legal action by the Wild Fish Conservancy.