The Lahontan National Fish Hatchery Complex
Pacific Southwest Region

Lahontan National Fish Hatchery

The mission of the Lahontan National Fish Hatchery is to produce Lahontan cutthroat trout (LCT) for recreational fishing, and for restoration of native stains in waters where the fish historically resided.

Background

The Lahontan National Fish Hatchery (NFH) was authorized as part of the Washoe Project in 1956 to re-establish the fisheries in Pyramid Lake.Click to enlarge It began raising Lahontan cutthroat trout (LCT) in 1967 and currently distributes LCT throughout its Western native range that includes the Tahoe, Walker, and Truckee Basins. The hatchery houses a unique lacustrine strain of LCT that originated from the Truckee Basin. About 300,000 - 400,000 LCT are raised and released each year. The hatchery provides fish of all age classes in support of fishery management and recovery activities. Currently the hatchery produces fish for Pyramid Lake, Walker Lake, the Truckee River, Fallen Leaf Lake, June Lake, Marlette Lake, and Gull Lake.

History of the Lahontan cutthroat trout

LCT is the only trout native to the Great Basin. The fish originated from ancient Lake Lahontan, a lake that once covered most of northern Nevada, and parts of Utah, Idaho and southern Oregon. Pyramid Lake is the last remnant of Lake Lahontan.

The lake form of LCT was known for its large size reaching 50 pounds. Due to overfishing, destruction of spawning grounds, degraded habitat along the Truckee River, and the introduction of nonnative fish, LCT disappeared by the 1940s.

In the 1970's, LCT was discovered in a small stream in Pilot Peak, Utah, outside of their native range. It is not known who transferred these fish to the stream or when. Genetic comparisons have since revealed the Pilot Peak strain of LCT are descendants of the original population of LCT from the Truckee Basin, and thus are descendants of the original Pyramid Lake strain.

Over a fifteen year period the Hatchery has developed a stock of LCT from the wild fish collected from Pilot Peak. Throughout this process genetic diversity was carefully preserved and continues to be tracked during annual spawning activities. The resulting Pilot Peak strain, which grows 0.6 inches per month at the hatchery, is now in full production. This fish is also performing well in Pyramid Lake, growing at a monthly rate of about one half inch a month.

How fish are spawned at the Lahontan National Fish Hatchery

Click here (16.3 MB PPT) to download a powerpoint slide show describing the hatchery's LCT spawning process. You can download a powerpoint viewer here.

Visit the hatchery

The hatchery is open to visitation every day of the year between 8 AM and 3 PM. We are located at 710 Highway 395 in Gardnerville , Nevada. We ask those wanting full tours to schedule a couple of weeks in advance. To schedule a tour, please call (775) 265-2425.

Last updated: January 14, 2013