When Oroville Dam was constructed, several miles of spawning and nursery grounds were no longer available for salmon and steelhead trout returning to their home stream to deposit eggs. To compensate for the loss, the hatchery was built in 1967, planned cooperatively by the Dept. of Fish & Game and Dept. of Water Resources, with advice and assistance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services.The main hatchery houses the spawning operation and incubators. The facility can accommodate 9,000 adult salmon and 2,000 adult steelhead. Incubators can hold 20 million eggs, and 9.6 million fingerlings can be reared in the eight concrete raceways. At the base of the fish barrier dam, salmon and steelhead enter and climb the ladder to the hatchery gathering tank. During their spawning runs, the fish can be seen through special view windows as they climb the fish ladder to reach the hatchery. Spring-run king salmon begin arriving in June, while steelhead and fall-run salmon arrive from September through November. Eggs are taken from the fish and fertilized, incubated and hatched. The small fish, called fry, are transferred to rearing tanks where they are kept until large enough to put into the river. From the river, they move to the ocean, and then later migrate back to their birth waters.
Open public viewing daily. For tours, call (530) 538-2222.
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