Releasing Your Salmon, Your Stocking Permit, The Fish Loss Report (Pre-approved Stocking Locations)

smolt in cups on release dayReleasing smolts into a stream that is 45-60 degrees Fahrenheit is the most important factor of your release--and acclimating the fish to within 5 degrees of that stream's temperature before releasing. Mid-April is usually an appropriate estimate--check the stream's temperature first.

It is important to understand the goal of the program is to provide students with an educational opportunity to learn about the salmon life cycle and natural resource conservation. It is not intended to be part of a fish stocking or fish recovery program. Because of the small number of fish you will be releasing, survival may be low. However, taking proper care of your fish and releasing them into favorable habitat will increase their chance of survival.

Releasing the salmon that you and your students have cared for over the course of an entire school year is one of the most exciting aspects of the program. It is important that you release your salmon into suitable habitat to provide them with the best possible opportunity of surviving. It also is essential that you adhere to the regulations that have been put in place by the DNR as outlined below. Please read the information carefully.

Fish Loss Report

Salmon are a natural living resource, and therefore are susceptible to disease and temperature shifts. If none of your fish survive until the May release date, please fill out this Fish Loss Report, and if the tank maintenance and care was well done, you may be granted replacement fish.

Stocking Permit and Report

Even if every fish died, you'll still need to fill this out to be enrolled in the program next year. A stocking permit and report reminder will be attached to your April Salmon Sense newsletter, that will lead you to this Stocking Permit and Report. You must mail/fax/email the completed permit, within 14 days AFTER your release in the spring. The address is DNR, P.O Box 30028, Lansing, MI 48909, fax # is 517-373-1547, and the email is This is important because without this information, you will not be allowed to receive your Scientific Collectors Permit next year and continue in the program.

Share your classroom's story!

Communities and sponsors that have schools with a Salmon in the Classroom program often love to feel involved. Why not use this press release template to announce to your local media the details of your salmon release! Just change the parts that are highlighted in yellow to reflect your own school, and then fax or email it to your weekly or daily papers.

Where you can Stock Your Fish

Step 1: Determine which Fisheries Management Unit (FMU) your school is located in.

kids releasing fish in a streamStep 2: Choose a stocking location in your FMU by going to the list of approved stocking locations. Pre-approved release locations.

You may stock your salmon in any of the rivers, lakes or streams on the approved list. If you are still unsure of your stocking location, Contact your Salmon in the Classroom coordinator.

How to Transport the Fish to Your Stocking Location

  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Use water from your tank
  • Do not overcrowd the fish; use more than one 5-gallon bucket if necessary
  • If the fish will be transported for more than an hour, aerate the water in the bucket with a battery-operated bubbler or "ice the bucket"
  • Upon arrival at the river, take the temperature of the river water and the temperature of the water in your bucket
  • If there is a difference of five degrees or more between the two you will need to acclimate the fish before releasing them into the water
  • To acclimate the fish, gradually replace the water in the bucket with river water. You should replace only one-quarter of the bucket water volume every 15 minutes with river water to avoid temperature shock

Plan stations for the kids to attend after they release their fish-suggestions include an Activity with an Expert, macroinertabrate collection, pollution tolerance index determination (google MiCorps for stream monitoring sheets), water quality measurements and sketching/reporting in a science notebook and datasheet (weather, temperature, conditions, site description, date).