Visiting the Hatchery
and Where to Visit...
Fish hatcheries are generally located in beautiful locations; the Spring Creek
National Fish Hatchery is no exception. Visitors can enjoy a picnic at a peaceful
spot along the river; watch birds that include ducks, geese, osprey, and eagles;
and see salmon returning to the place of their birth--in this case, to the hatcheries
where they began their life two to five years earlier.
For more details about activities at the hatcheries or to schedule a group tour,
please call the hatchery at 509-493-1730 or the Columbia Gorge Information and
Education Office at 509-493-2934.
As the weather warms up and wildflowers brighten the Gorge, spring Chinook salmon
return up the Columbia River, entering the Wind River on their journey
back to Carson National Fish Hatchery. Others swim up the Little White
Salmon River through Drano Lake to the Little White Salmon National Fish
Hatchery. Anglers flock to the mouth of the Wind River and to Drano Lake
to try their luck at catching the 15 to 20 pound fish. All state fishing
regulations apply; check with the Washington State Department of Fish and
Wildlife for latest season information (360-902-2500 for latest updates
or 306-902-2200 for general information).
During the summer, the hatcheries are good places to enjoy the park-like settings
and see wildlife along the nearby rivers. Picnic facilities are available, and
there are public restrooms and parking for cars and recreational vehicles. Spring
Creek Hatchery releases the last of two groups of fall Chinook salmon smolts
each May, but they have an excellent information center in the administrative
office with brochures and video programs available. Views from Spring Creek include
a panoramic view of Mt. Hood, the city of Hood River, and the Columbia River
Gorge. From the hatchery, visitors can also watch large numbers of windsurfers
enjoying the brisk winds at this world-class windsurfing site. The other hatcheries
have young fish in raceways year-round.
As the summer ends in late August and early September, tule fall Chinook salmon
begin returning to Spring Creek Hatchery. Visitors can pick up a brochure at
the parking area and take a self-guided tour through the hatchery or arrange
group tours in advance. Each September Spring
Creek holds an Open House during which visitors can take hatchery tours, watch
adult salmon being spawned in the state-of-the-art spawning facility, enjoy refreshments,
and have fun with special activities for children. Call the hatchery at 509-493-1730
for exact date and details.
The strong Gorge winds and sometimes-harsh weather provide a dramatic
setting for a visit to the hatcheries. January through early
April, millions of fall Chinook salmon are marked with an adipose
fin clip and coded wire tags before being released into the rivers
leading to the Pacific Ocean. Visitors are welcome to watch the
tagging inside the comfort of the trailers that are moved to
each hatchery during tagging season. Winters are also the best
time to watch the eagles soaring in the wind and at river's edge,
feeding on salmon carcasses returned to the river after the spawning