Hatcheries

Washoe Park Trout Hatchery

An integral component of the state's fish management plan, Montana fish hatcheries make a unique and interesting destination for visitors. Their goal is to protect, enhance, and restore populations of native and sports species. 

Ennis National Fish Hatchery: The Ennis National Fish Hatchery (NFH) was authorized by Congress in May 1930, and started fish culture operations in July 1933. Ennis National Fish Hatchery is different from other hatcheries. Most hatcheries produce fish of various sizes and then stock these fish in public lakes and streams, providing anglers with hours of fishing fun. Ennis NFH, however, operates as a broodstock hatchery and is the largest facility in the Service’s National Broodstock Program. It is one of only two rainbow trout broodstock hatcheries in the nationwide federal hatchery system. Visit fws.gov/ennis for more information.

Yellowstone River Trout Hatchery: In February of 1919, the President and Secretary of the Big Timber Rod and Gun Club met in Billings with members of the State Fish and Game Commission to bid for a rearing pond in Big Timber. The meeting aroused the interest of the commission members to such a degree that they offered to initiate a small hatchery if clear title could be acquired to the land. The Big Timber Rod and Gun Club raised the money for purchase, acquired the clear title and donated the land to the State of Montana to be used for the Big Timber Fish Hatchery. The name of the hatchery (just outside Big Timber) has been changed to the Yellowstone River Trout Hatchery and is now the home of the Yellowstone cutthroat broodstock. Visit fwp.mt.gov for more information. 

Bluewater Springs Trout Hatchery: Located just east of Bridger, this hatchery is named after its water supply, a spring with a distinctive blue color, and 58°F water. Fish from this station are generally stocked in the south, central, and eastern sections of the state. Arlee, Eagle Lake, and Erwin strains of rainbow trout, Yellowstone cutthroat, and grayling are reared annually. Visit fwp.mt.gov for more information. 

Washoe Park Trout Hatchery: The Washoe Park Trout Hatchery in Anaconda was the first state-run hatchery built in Montana. The hatchery is located at the east end of the historic Washoe Park. The hatchery was built in 1907 with the help of local industries. The manager of the Washoe Smelter at the time was a Fish and Game Commissioner. He obtained support from the legislature for funding the construction of the facility. The Butte, Anaconda and Pacific Railroad granted the four acres for the hatchery site and water rights were donated by the Anaconda Copper Mining Company. Over the years, the hatchery has raised many species of salmonids including Arctic grayling, westslope cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, brook trout, golden trout, lake trout and brown trout. Currently, the hatchery manages the state's only westslope cutthroat broodstock. The founding population of today's broodstock was taken from tributaries of Hungry Horse Reservoir and the lower Clark Fork drainage in 1984 and 1985. The hatchery produces over one million eggs per year. About 200,000 of these eggs are kept at the facility for future brood and production fish that will be planted in lakes across Montana to support recreational sport fishing. Eggs and fish from Washoe Park Trout Hatchery are also used for restoration stocking as part of Montana's westslope cutthroat trout conservation program. Visit fwp.mt.gov for more information. 

Giant Springs Trout Hatchery: This hatchery near Great Falls is a production facility constructed in 1928. Reconstruction took place in 1984 when all the old round ponds were replaced by 24 outside raceways, except for one, which is now the show pond. The hatchery building was replaced and houses the egg incubators and 40 interior raceways, which can be seen from the visitor center. Giant Springs, the hatchery's water supply, is one of the largest springs in the country, and is the headwaters of one of the world's shortest rivers, the Roe River. The springs put forth over 150 million gallons of water each day, flowing into the Roe River which is only 201' in length. Water to the hatchery building is 650-700 gallons per minute. The outside 24 raceways receive 15,000 gallons of water per minute. The water is high in nitrogen and low in oxygen because it is from a very deep aquifer. As a result, the water from the spring is pumped through packed columns to reverse this condition and provide better quality water for fish rearing. Visit fwp.mt.gov for more information.

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