- SERVING PEOPLE -
Story Hatchery & Visitor Center
P.O. Box 160, 311R Fish Hatchery Rd.
Story, Wyoming 82842
Located 2 miles west of Story on State Highway 194
Nestled among the aspens and ponderosa pines on the east slope of the Big Horn Mountains, just eight miles from historic Fort Phil Kearney, is the Story Fish Hatchery. Story is unique in history, beauty and function among the 11 state fish hatcheries in Wyoming.
Built from logs in 1907-08, the current hatchery is the oldest operating fish hatchery in the state. The original hatchery was built on Wolf Creek 20 miles north in 1906, but was moved to the current location due to its colder water. The hatchery building and water collection system was reconstructed in 1992, but still maintains the original redwood log siding.
The main building also contains a large trough room where small fry are reared, an incubator room with three different types of incubation systems, an office and a shop.
An important feature of any hatchery is water. Normally, hatcheries and rearing stations will be built in locations where fairly constant water temperatures of 48-60 F are available from springs or wells promoting optimum growth for trout. At Story, however, water is drawn from South Piney Creek about one mile from the hatchery. Water enters fissures in the creek and travels underground through limestone formations before surfacing in a spring pond on the hatchery grounds. As a result, water temperatures vary from 35 F in winter months up to 57 F in the late summer and fall. Fish managers use the variation in water temperatures at Story to their advantage by utilizing the cold winter temperatures to slow the development of eggs to match timing for Wyoming hatcheries and also match the needs of other states who utilize the lake trout and Eagle Lake rainbow trout eggs taken from broodstocks at Story Hatchery. The colder water at Story hatchery is ideal for holding the only lake trout broodstock in the Wyoming state hatchery system.
Spawning is the act of egg laying by the female and fertilization by the male fish. At hatcheries artificial spawning occurs when hatchery personnel gently squeeze the abdomen of the fish and collect both the eggs from females and milt, or sperm, from males. The fish that are spawned are called the broodstock, which is a group of adult fish. Story spawns two species of fish, the lake trout and the Eagle Lake rainbow trout. Lake trout, or mackinaw, are spawned from late September through October. Approximately 1.2 million eggs are taken from the Story broodstock.
Story also produces between 100,000 and 200,000 splake. This fish is a cross between a male brook trout and a female lake trout. Splake are a popular fish among anglers in Wyoming. The Eagle Lake rainbow trout spawns from April until the middle week of May and produces around 1 million eggs.
Story hatchery has traditionally stocked from 200,000 to 300,000 fish each year. When wilderness stocking of lakes by helicopter occurs, usually every other year, larger numbers of small fish are raised to meet these needs. Historically, Story has stocked fish in the northern and northeast part of Wyoming in addition to stocking statewide to fill needs. Fish are hauled in specially designed tanks mounted on pickup trucks or on bigger tandem wheeled rigs for larger loads. These tanks provide oxygen in the water and aerate the water in the tank to break up carbon dioxide produced from fish respiration in the tanks. For helicopter stocking of fish specially designed tanks attach to the struts of the helicopter to allow for the stocking of several lakes in one trip.
Most fish stocking occurs during spring and early summer when the receiving waters are cool, and then again in the early fall months. Spawning operations and egg rearing occur October through December and again April through June. Sometimes eggs are brought in from other broodstocks in the state. Of course, egg and fish rearing are year-round activities at the hatchery.
With an average snowfall of from 9-10 feet, snow clearing becomes a major wintertime chore. Hatchery personnel also use this time to maintain and repair equipment and for compilation of reports. Summer brings along activities such as cleaning ponds and raceways after fish have been stocked to ready them again for fish. Maintenance of the buildings and grounds is a major part of work in summer months.