Valley City National Fish Hatchery
Mountain-Prairie Region




Image of Fishery Biologists Inventorying Fish PopulationsThe cycle of stocking begins as fishery biologists monitor lake water quality and inventory fish populations.  Information on species, size, and numbers of fish required is collected by electrofishing and gill netting.  Production of species at the hatchery is based on this information.


Removing Eggs from Female FishEach spring, just after the ice breaks up, species such as northern pike and walleye are trapped in nets set in Lake Ashtabula.  The trapping coincides with spawning periods when the females are ripe with eggs.  The eggs are stripped from the females and then fertilized with milt from males of the same species.  Fertilized eggs are transported to the hatchery and placed in hatching jars at the rate of 2 quarts of eggs per jar.  A quart of northern pike eggs contains approximately 60,000 eggs; walleye eggs are only one-half as large and average about 120,000 per quart.  Under favorable water temperatures, 15 to 25 days are required for hatching.  The newly hatched "fry" are then stocked into outdoor ponds.  These ponds are fertilized with alfalfa pellets to stimulate invertebrate production, which is used as a food source for the fish.  They reach fingerling size (about 2 inches) in 4 to 6 weeks in these ponds.

Image of Fertilized Egges in Hatching Jar




Image of Fingerlings being released into a lakeFingerlings are transported to lakes that are in need of stocking and released.  Primarily, Valley City releases fish into North Dakota waters, however, some fish are also shipped to other states.  Priority in fish stocking is given to waters on National Wildlife Refuges, Indian Reservations, National Parks and Forests, and to other Federal and State-managed waters.  The fight of a big fish, the victorious smile of a 12-year old, and a delicious fish dinner are the direct results of the Valley City stocking program.

Last updated: March 15, 2011
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