Willard National Fish Hatchery
Pacific Region

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Willard NFHWhen and Where to Visit...
Fish hatcheries are generally located in beautiful locations; the Willard 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 509-538-2305 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 the 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. There are young salmon in raceways year-round at this facility.

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, on the second or third Saturday, 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 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 is finished.


Last updated: February 21, 2012
Willard National Fish Hatchery
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