Trapped trout relocated to Big Wood River

Local volunteers help move fish stuck in irrigation ditches

Volunteers from the local chapter in Hailey, Idaho helped relocate fish trapped in irrigation ditches to the Big Wood River.

As irrigation season comes to an end, headgates are closed so that water no longer flows into ditches. Those irrigation ditches become disconnected puddles and trout that have strayed into the ditches become trapped and eventually die.

Trout Unlimited’s local Hemingway chapter coordinated the collection of fish trapped in the District 45 diversion irrigation ditch in the Howard Preserve, adjacent to Bellevue, following the closure of the headgate.

“Installing fish screens on Big Wood diversions is quite costly and may be an option in the future. In the meantime, efforts of the local Hemingway chapter, in conjunction with Idaho Department of Fish and Game and local irrigation districts and canal operators is helping to save our fish populations,” said Keri York, Trout Unlimited Big Wood Project Manager.

Volunteers used nets that were weighted on the bottom and stretched from one side of the ditch to the other. These were moved slowly up a 60 foot stretch of the disconnected waterway. At the end, the net was circled around the fish which were netted, then carried by bucket to an aerated water tank on a trailer. About 525 trout were transported and released to the Big Wood River. The largest fish was 18 inches long.

By Shauna Stephenson. Shauna Stephenson has been a writer, photographer, communicator and conservationist for nearly two decades, the past decade being spent at Trout Unlimited, working on projects…