The ODFW Visitors' Guide
The Vital Role of Fish Hatcheries
Department of Fish and Wildlife operates more than 30 Hatcheries and several rearing ponds statewide. These facilities raise salmon, steelhead and several species of trout. Salmon make up more than half the number of fish raised. Almost one-third of the department's employees are involved in some phase of hatchery operations.
Hatcheries play a vital role in ODFW's overall efforts to maintain healthy fish populations in waters throughout the state. Hatchery Fish help repopulate endangered species, supplement natural stocks and provide angling opportunities in areas that would not support natural production.
Each year ODFW hatcheries raise and release more than 50 million fish. These facilities usually release salmon and steelhead as smolts - measuring about six inches long - when they are ready to begin seaward migration. Trout are stocked in rivers, lakes and reservoirs as two-inch fingerings, as catchable-sized fish measuring about eight inches, and as trophy-sized trout up to several pounds each.
Fall and early winter are busy times at salmon and steelhead facilities. This is when adult salmon and steelhead return after spending one to five years in the ocean. Hatchery workers remove eggs from the adult fish to begin the production cycle once again. Trout hatcheries operate on varying schedules, taking eggs from adult fish held on site year-round, or from fish collected at remote trapping locations. Visitors are welcome to watch these activities.
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