Warm Springs National Fish Hatchery
Pacific Region


Warm Springs NFH raises Spring Chinook Salmon that enhances adult returns to Warm Springs River, sustaining the traditional platform fishery at Sherar Falls for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. Adult returns generally start in mid-April, peak around Memorial Day, typically end by July, with a few returning during summer until spawning time. Spawning starts typically around the 4th week in August and is generally over by the 3rd week of September.

The hatchery is located on the Warm Springs River which supports a wild run of spring Chinook salmon. The hatchery stock is progeny (descendents) of wild stock and managed through a Genetics Plan incorporating wild genetic traits. This is accomplished when returning wild run strength permits retention of some wild run individuals. The genetic plan is intended to insure that hatchery stock continues to best replicate wild characteristics, as closely as possible.

Operational practices and facility features are intended to bypass all wild stock up river and retain all hatchery stock. This is accomplished through 100% marking of hatchery stock using adipose fin clips and coded wire tags (CWT). When preseason return run predications reach 1000 wild fish, a low percentage of wild fish is incorporated into hatchery stock. If run predictions are not accurate then wild fish are released to continue their journey. No hatchery stock is allowed past the hatchery unless needed to provide a study component for tribal management biologists. Up to 620 hatchery stock can be retained as broodstock and the remaining fish are distributed to the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs through their Natural Recourse Department.

Hatchery stock is randomly selected during the entire length of the returning run, based on historic return times. On spawning days, Fish and Wildlife Service crews representing Fish Health (FH) and Fisheries Resource (FRO) Management participate to collect specific information from each fish. The FH biologists collect tissue samples from each spawned fish for bacterial and viral disease analysis. The FRO biologists collect fish snouts which contain coded wire tags. CWTs contain information on specific group and age of returning fish.


The spawning process starts early in the morning with hatchery staff sorting the fish by checking them for ripeness
If ready fish are moved to a holding channel
in preparation for the spawn. The fish are lifted to the spawning area via a hydraulic basket. The basket contains water treated with anesthesia to sedate the fish
The fish are sorted by sex
euthanized, and sent to a holding table, where they are prepared for gamete collection. Preparation includes washing and tagging with a number that allows for tracking.   Milt from males is collected in plastic bags
and held until eggs are available (generally only a few minutes). Eggs are collected in a bucket

then milt and a sperm enhancer are added to activate movement and optimize fertilization. The eggs are then placed in a water solution with an antibacterial (iodine compound)


water hardened and then placed in individual incubating colanders
After spawning the tagged carcasses are processed by fish health biologists who collect tissue samples
to screen for bacterial and viral diseases. Carcasses are then passed to fishery management biologists who collect data on length, snouts containing CWTs, and tissue for genetic samples
The carcass is then delivered to Tribal staff that prepares them by removing internal organs and places them in individual bags for freezing
Data are collected at all stages of the spawning process starting with sorting of the adults P12 and finishing with reconciliation with eggs

This information allows for past management evaluation and future management planning. After the fish health results are received, carcasses free of certain pathogens can be are out planted in historic wild salmon spawning areas.



Last updated: July 16, 2013

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