The annual Steelhead Rescue Program on the Carmel River started several months early and rescued 35,000 endangered trout by July 1, the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District said Friday.

The program will continue as the river has already dried back almost six miles from the ocean to the Schulte River Bridge, the district said.

The number of relocated fish that have been rescued this year is the fifth-highest number in the past 25 years, the district said.

Teams members often have worked seven days a week. The majority of the captured fish are very small, and they are transported to the district's Sleepy Hollow rearing facility.

District manager Dave Stoldt said the annual steelhead program is one of many activities required under a state order to offset negative impacts of overpumping the river for the Peninsula's water supply.