What We Do

Established: 1901

Purpose & Authorizing Legislation: Spring Creek National Fish Hatchery was established as one of several egg collection stations for the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries Clackamas Hatchery. As the human population of the Columbia River Gorge increased, heavy fishing pressure and destruction of habitat resulted in the U.S. Government deciding to produce fish at the hatchery. The hatchery mitigates for habitat loss due to hydro-electric projects on the Columbia River and fulfills Tribal trust responsibilities.

Funding: Previous financial support to produce tule fall Chinook and monitoring and evaluation studies at the hatchery have been provided by funds from the Mitchell Act, the Service, and from the Army Corps as part of the John Day/The Dalles Dam Mitigation program. Today, the Army Corps provides most of the funding, with some funding provided via the Pacific Salmon Treaty to produce salmon for the benefit of southern resident killer whales.

Fish Produced: Spring Creek NFH raises 12.5 million young tule fall Chinook salmon each year, making a significant contribution to the ocean, Tribal, and sport fisheries.

Hatchery Life Cycle

Fall: Adults return and are spawned in September. Eggs are taken, fertilized and put in incubation trays. Spawned carcasses are sampled for diseases and coded-wire tags. Eggs will develop to the eye-up stage in October and hatch in late fall.

Winter: Buttoned-up fry move to outdoor rearing ponds. In February their adipose fins are clipped and they receive coded-wire or PIT tags. Marking provides information for the overall management of all fisheries programs in the region.

Spring: Sub-yearling salmon are ready to migrate to the ocean. They are released in two groups - April and May. The intricate water reuse system is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

Summer: With no fish on station, work turns to facility upkeep and maintenance projects.

Management and Conservation

The next time you go fishing, you might just catch a fish that was raised at Spring Creek National Fish Hatchery. Since 1871, National Fish Hatcheries have been responding to conservation challenges affecting America’s fish and other aquatic species. Producing fish continues to be an irreplaceable tool in managing or restoring fisheries along with habitat conservation. In doing so, we help provide recreation opportunities to America’s 34 million anglers who spend $36 billion annually in pursuit of their favored pastime.