Hatchery Programs

Hatchery programs are strictly managed to produce healthy fish from select breeding stock. Hatchery fish supplement native stocks of salmon and steelhead and compensate for the small percentage of juvenile fish that are killed during their passage past hydro projects. According to the Mid-Columbia Habitat Conservation Plan, hatchery fish can be used to compensate for no more than 7 percent fish mortality. Safe passage of young fish at the dams remains a primary goal.

The Rock Island Fish Hatchery Complex is made up of the central hatchery and five satellites on the Wenatchee, Chiwawa, Methow and Similkameen rivers and at Lake Wenatchee. Hatchery stocks come from adult fish captured each year in target rivers. Eggs from these fish are incubated in the hatcheries and then juvenile fish are reared, acclimated, and released in the same body of water the parent fish came from.

The central hatchery uses up to 23,000 gallons per minute of cool well water in uncrowded conditions to maintain a disease-free environment. Incubation water is chilled to 38 degrees to slow the egg development in much the same way that cold winter weather affects naturally deposited eggs. The result is the production of some of the healthiest hatchery fish in the Pacific Northwest.

Each year spring and summer Chinook salmon, sockeye salmon and steelhead are released from the hatchery system.


We place extreme importance on monitoring our hatchery program. We are not only interested in whether the fish are healthy leaving our hatchery facilities, but also, what affect they may have on naturally produced fish. Our programs are designed to increase natural production, so we monitor this and manage the program adaptively (based on the information we gather).


Fish eggs for hatchery programs come from hatchery fish captured each year in target rivers.