Winthrop National Fish Hatchery
Pacific Region

What's New?

Winthrop Hatchery Tours

Scheduling a tour of Winthrop Hatchery is easy to do. Tours are available Monday – Friday between 10 am and 2 pm each day. Schedule for larger groups by calling ahead to provide hatchery staff time to plan and customize a special tour just for your school, organization, business, or community group.

Tours include a walk in the visitor center and hatchery nursery providing several opportunities to view salmon. Also included, is a beautiful stroll through the grounds. Picnic tables are available in various locations to picnic on the hatchery property where you can observe wildlife and enjoy the smell and sounds of  nature at its best. Call 509-996-2424 for more information.

Current Projects

New Adult Holding Pond

Building a new spawning shed Contruction photograph taken January 2012

Our new Spawning Facility at Winthrop NFH was completed in 2012. Visitors are able to observe salmon through a viewing window below the water line as well as watch spawning operations from a designated visitors room.

Kids Fishing Pond

Our new Kids Fishing Pond was completed in 2012. We host an annual fishing day event the second Saturday in June. Methow Valley Fly Fishers (MVFF) donated many hours of time, labor, and a contractor to complete the work.

Increased PIT tagging

PIT tagging helps biologists evaluate and study current fish programs. Winthrop increased PIT tagging to evaluate differences between 1-year steelhead and 2-year steelhead smolt programs. The two groups now receive 15,000 PIT tags each prior to release.

The increased number of PIT tags will improve the accuracy of survival and out migration time estimates and help to determine any significant differences or benefits in rearing steelhead smolts for an additional year at the hatchery. The natural steelhead in the Methow River are primarily 2-year old smolts when they migrate to the ocean, so the hatchery is trying to determine the best rearing strategy in the hatchery environment in order to maximize out migration rates and adult return rates.

Winthrop National Fish Hatchery Review

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) proactively initiated a series of hatchery reviews in May 2005 to assure that its 21 hatchery programs are part of a holistic and integrated strategy—consistent with State, Tribal, and Federal strategies—for conserving wild stocks and managing fisheries in watersheds within the Columbia River Basin. These reviews were tailored after a successful process recently implemented in Puget Sound and Coastal Washington watersheds.

The team completed their review of the Winthrop National Fish Hatchery (NFH) program in April 2007. The Hatchery Review Team, comprised of Service and other federal scientists (NOAA & USGS) conducted field tours with hatchery managers and their staffs, reviewed hatchery operations, and met the co-managing agencies and tribes to get a clear understanding of the goals for and status of each wild and hatchery population and their associated habitat and management strategies. Following these field visits, the team put together recommendations for each hatchery which were then documented in the Pacific Region Hatchery Review Team Report.  See the Winthrop National Fish Hatchery section in the Leavenworth Complex Review Final Report.

Winthrop NFH Beaver Relocation Project

Beavers at the Winthrop National Fish Hatchery - Photo: USFWS
Beavers living in cement ponds at the Winthrop National Fish Hatchery.

Visitors stopping by the Winthrop National Fish Hatchery have an opportunity to see more than fish. Cement ponds on the hatchery grounds have become temporary residences for beaver families awaiting relocation to new homes. This relocation effort is designed with the aim of resolving nuisance beaver problems, as well as enhancing water quantity and quality at the same time.

A coalition of partners, including the Methow Conservancy, Pacific Biodiversity Institute, US Forest Service, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Ecotrust, Washington Audubon, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service Winthrop National Fish Hatchery, have come together in the Methow River watershed to begin addressing water issues using a natural tool. A plan to remove beavers from places where they conflict with landowners and release them in unoccupied habitat higher in the watershed has been implemented.

Biologists began trapping beavers in spots where their presence is deemed undesirable. The animals that have been trapped and living at the Winthrop NFH are enjoying shade, branches to chew on, fresh fruit and vegetables, and special beaver food. Once an entire family is brought into the hatchery, they are introduced to a new home area where their gnawing, chewing, and damming activities will prove beneficial. These beavers will provide great benefits, as they are sometimes referred to as “water specialists”.

In this project, beavers are relocated to places in the National Forest where they will not cause future problems and where they can increase stream complexity, riparian vegetation and groundwater recharge. Their activity can also help capture stream sediment and delay stream runoff. In so doing, the project partners hope to provide significant, measurable improvements to water quality. This project is a new and different partnership for all the parties concerned. It requires stepping out of traditional roles and collaborating in creative natural ways.


Chinook Salmon - Photo: USFWS
Chinook Salmon

Coho Salmon - Photo: NMFS Northwest Fisheries Science Center
Coho Salmon
NMFS Northwest Fisheries Science Center
Steelhead Trout- Photo: USFWS
Steelhead Trout
Rainbow Trout - Photo: USFWS
Rainbow Trout
Pacific Lamprey - Photo: USFWS
Pacific Lamprey
Bull Trout - Photo: USFWS
Bull Trout
Aquatic Invasive Species Zebra Mussels - Photo: USGS
Aquatic Invasive
Species (AIS)
Zebra Mussels

Last updated: February 17, 2015
Winthrop National Fish Hatchery
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