Quilcene National Fish Hatchery
Pacific Region

Education - Let's Go Outside!


Hatchery outreach to local school - fish printing (Gyotaku)When is the best time to visit the hatchery?
The hatchery is open for visitors Monday through Friday 7 AM to 3 PM. During the months of May through September the hatchery is open on weekends from 11 AM to 3 PM . The best time to see returning adult salmon is from September through the end of October. If you are in the area, you can see the different stages of egg incubation by revisiting the hatchery.

Do you give tours of the hatchery?
We give tours of the hatchery to schools and other groups usually during the fall when adult salmon are returning, and when are collecting eggs from them. Please contact the hatchery to schedule a tour at 360-765-3334 or 3330, or you can send an email to quilcenenfh@fws.gov

When do you spawn the adult salmon?
Coho salmon spawning at Quilcene NFH starts the first week in October.

What does "Anadromous" mean?
Anadromous refers to a fish species that lives part of their life in fresh water then moves to the ocean to mature before returning to fresh water to spawn. Coho (silver) salmon spend 1 ½ years in the freshwater and 1 ½ years in the ocean. All pacific salmon die after spawning, other species, such as steelhead and bull trout may make the transition between salt and fresh water several times during their life.

sac fryWhat is a smolt?
A smolt is a juvenile salmon that has completed the physiological adaptation and is ready to travel from fresh water to salt water

What is a redd?
A redd is the nest where the salmon lay their eggs in the river gravel. The female salmon turns on her side and uses her tail to make a depression in the gravel. As she lays her eggs into the depression they are fertilized by the male and the female covers the eggs with the gravel. The eggs absorb water in the first hour after fertilization and secure themselves in the spaces between the gravel for incubation.


How many eggs does an adult female salmon lay?
Adult female coho salmon average around 2,500 eggs, depending in the size of the individual fish. Chinook salmon, a larger species, can average 5,000 eggs per adult.


How many eggs are placed into the incubators?
Vertical stack fish egg incubators contain 16 drawers holding 5,000 coho salmon eggs with a water flow of 4 gallons per minute

What do you do when your fish get sick?
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has a Fish Health Center in Lacey, Washington , providing support to Quilcene and other national fish hatcheries in Western Washington . Their staff includes doctors of veterinary medicine working as fish pathologists who check the health of our fish monthly. If fish mortality (dying) increases, we request their assistance. Based on their diagnosis, they recommend treatment of the fish. Fish pathologists also take samples of fish tissue and fluids from the adult salmon that are used that are used to check for diseases.

sorting coho adult salmon.  Personnel holding male coho salmonWhat fish do you raise at the hatchery?
We currently raise coho (silver) salmon for on-station release into the Big Quilcene river and provide fish and eyed eggs for tribal net pen programs. A Hood Canal steelhead supplementation was started in 2007, that will hopefully increase their survival rate.

What is a raceway?
Our raceways are concrete ponds with dimensions of 8 feet wide by 80 feet long. Raceway numbers and dimensions vary from hatchery to hatchery.

How much water goes through one raceway?
Typically about 500 gallons per minute flows through each raceway.

How many fish are in a raceway?
The number of fish depends on the size of the fish and their environmental conditions. Typically, numbers range from 20,000 to 75,000 fish per raceway.

What do you feed the fish?
Many fish food companies make food for different species of fish, different sizes of fish. If the fish are sick, the manufacturers can include medicines directly into the food with the written recommendation of the fish pathologist

Do you feed the adult salmon when they return to the hatchery?
No, adult salmon stop eating once they enter fresh water, living off their stored body fat until they spawn and die.

What happens to the extra adult fish that you don't use for egg collection?
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and several local tribes have an agreement to provide the surplus adult fish to tribal members for subsistence. If the tribes do no want the adult salmon, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service provides these extra adult fish to the Food Bank program.

Have you raised any "listed" salmon species under the Endangered Species Act?
Yes. We were part of a very successful partnership called the Hood Canal summer chum salmon recovery project. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Quilcene National Fish Hatchery, Washington Fish and Wildlife Office - Fisheries, Olympia Fish Health Center, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration worked together to increase numbers of these fish even before they were listed as "Threatened" under the Endangered Species Act.

A listed species, "Threatened" Hood Canal steelhead program was started in 2007, working with numerous partners.

Contact Information:
Phone (360) 765-3334 or 3330
Email quilcenenfh@fws.gov
Driving directions


Last updated: August 15, 2011
Quilcene National Fish Hatchery
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