Story Hatchery and Visitor Center
Story Hatchery & Visitor Center
P.O. Box 160, 311R Fish Hatchery Rd.
Story, Wyoming 82842
: (307) 683-2234
Welcome to the Story Fish Hatchery
The Story Fish Hatchery invites you to explore one of the ten fish hatcheries and fish rearing stations operated by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Located in the scenic ponderosa pine forest at the base of the Bighorn Mountains, the hatchery provides visitors with a unique opportunity to observe fish and local wildlife.
The original hatchery buildings were built in 1909 to serve the needs of northern Wyoming. Throughout the years, Story Hatchery has undergone significant renovations to keep up with new technology in fish culture and is the oldest continuously operating hatchery in the state. Today the hatchery grounds consist of several areas of interest. First, there is the large redwood-sided hatchery building that contains the visitor center, restrooms, and a trough room where smaller fish and the golden trout brood stock are held (a brood stock is an adult fish breeding group). In front of this building are raceways that hold the brown trout brood stock. Behind the hatchery building sit the vacuum degassing buildings, brood building and settling ponds. The tan and green brood building houses three different brood stocks (Eagle Lake rainbow, brook and lake trout) and includes a spawning area and large, modern egg incubation room.
Story's Unique Water
As one might guess, water is a very important factor in rearing fish and Story is fortunate to have three very different water sources. Water from South Piney Creek flows ½ mile through underground caverns and emerges at the Big Spring. This is the original and primary water source for the facility and its variable flows and water temperatures (34-52 F) closely mimic conditions seen in nature which makes it an excellent water source for rearing brood stocks. Some returning visitors may remember ponds to the south of Big Spring; these ponds were covered over and developed to enhance collection of the Little Spring water. Although not as important flow-wise as the other two sources, its lack of silt and moderate temperature (37-48 F) make it ideal for incubating eggs. Lastly, an artesian well was re-routed in 2009 for use in the new incubator room. Even though this water contains a high amount of fine silt, its steady flow is a welcome addition during peak egg incubation times.
Spawning at Story
Story Hatchery currently houses five different brood stocks from which seven species of eggs are spawned (collected). Annually, the facility collects five to six million eggs depending on needs. All eggs are first used to meet in-state requests and any remaining eggs are then made available to other states. These eggs are traded in return for fish that are not reared by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department but are stocked into public waters; such as catfish, walleye, tiger muskie and bass. Fish and eggs at all Wyoming state hatcheries are for stocking into public waters and cannot be sold to private individuals. Here is a quick look at each of Story’s brood stocks:
- At seven to15 years old, lake trout are the largest fish size-wise at the hatchery; they weigh between three and eight pounds each! This species spawns in October and depending on her age, each female produces 2,000 to 4,000 eggs each year. We collect up to 725,000 eggs from this brood stock annually. Eggs not needed in Wyoming may be shipped to Idaho, Tennessee, California and New Jersey. Female lake trout are also crossed with male brook trout to make a hybrid called a splake. About 275,000 splake eggs are produced yearly and may go to places such as Colorado, South Dakota and Utah.
- Possibly Story’s “best dressed” fish are the brook trout brood stock. These colorful fish spawn in October and November with each female producing between 1,200 and 2,200 eggs. Approximately 1.1 million of these eggs are collected annually. The states of Idaho, Colorado, Nebraska, Kentucky, Arizona and Washington are often recipients of the extra eggs.
- The brown trout brood stock was new to Story in 2011; October through mid-November is when this species spawns. These females produce 1,000 to 2,000 eggs each year for an annual tally of 900,000 eggs with some going to Idaho, Nebraska, Washington, Kentucky and Colorado if not needed in-state. In addition to making splake, the male brook trout can also be crossed with a female brown trout to make hybrid tiger trout, a much sought after and hard fighting sport fish. Because this is a relatively new species to the state, the state record has been broken every year for the last several years! Story typically collects about 500,000 of these eggs and sends extras to Washington, Utah, South Dakota, Colorado, and Nebraska when available.
- Story’s largest brood stock is the spring-spawning Eagle Lake rainbow trout. There are just over 3,000 fish in this group. Annually, each female produces 1,800 to 2,600 eggs that will combine for a total of up to 3 million. Though many of these eggs stay in-state, hatcheries in Utah and Kentucky typically receive additional shipments.
- Lastly, we are proud to say that Story Hatchery is home to the only known captive golden trout brood stock in the nation! Because of habitat loss and interbreeding with rainbow trout, these fish are listed as threatened in their native state of California. They have complex water temperature requirements that make egg collection from wild stocks difficult and they are very hard to domesticate and rear in hatcheries. Luckily, Story has proven to be a good fit for these fish. Golden trout females produce 300 to 700 eggs each year. The approximately 250,000 eggs collected are primarily used for fish stocking in Wyoming’s high mountain lakes. The states of Idaho, Washington, Utah, Montana, Colorado and California have been recipients of the few extra eggs that are available.
- Because Story Hatchery has a large incubation area and such cold water, we are also able to incubate approximately 550,000 Firehole Rainbow eggs from our Tillett Rearing Station near Lovell and one million Bear River Cutthroat eggs from the Wigwam Rearing Station outside of Ten Sleep in order to meet their egg shipment timing needs.
Fish Stocking at Story
When whirling disease was found to be present in the incoming water in 2005, Story Hatchery ceased fish stocking in order to minimize introduction into non-infected waters. In recent years, the hatchery has been approved to release non-infected retired members of each brood stock on an as-needed basis into a small number of waters. The waters we stock are areas where trout did not historically occur and where outflowing water will not combine with waters where trout currently are found. These fish have passed multiple years of fish health inspections to ensure that they are not carriers of the parasite. Approved waters include Gillette Fishing Lake, Panther Pond in Wright, Black Hills Power and Light Pond in Osage, Sloan’s Lake in Cheyenne, Buffalo Wetlands Pond in Buffalo and Acme and Mavrakis Ponds in Sheridan.
Things to Know Before You Come
Hours of operation
: The Story Fish Hatchery grounds are open from 8 a.m. - 5p.m. daily; the Lake Trout Brood Stock Pond area, Visitor Center and restrooms are open 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. daily.
: Please park in the designated parking area to your right as you come in the front gate, this is a change from the past. When arriving or leaving, please watch for children!!
Handicap visitors may park in the designated Handicap Parking area along the front of hatchery building. Other access can be granted to handicap visitors, please contact a worker before proceeding.
Make the most of your visit
: Story Hatchery’s newly remodeled visitor center is a must-see first stop on your visit to Story Hatchery; here you will find updated information about the fish, the facility and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Informative signs are also now found at all important outdoor locations. Please note that children must be attended at all times and that all pets must be on leash.
Feeding the fish
: Fish may be fed pellets from the fish food machines located inside the Lake Trout Brood Stock Pond area fence, the cost is .25 for a handful of feed. We do not provide change machines, so please plan ahead. Feed only these fish, all other fish are too small to eat this size food. Feeding of other items such as bread or other human food, dog food or rocks is unhealthy for the fish and is not permitted at any time. For health and safety reasons, we ask that you do not let children or pets wade or swim in the pond.
Certain areas are closed to the public
: In order to maintain fish health and public safety, certain areas of the Story Hatchery grounds are closed to the public. This includes the vacuum degassing buildings, all areas of the brood building and a portion of the trough room inside the hatchery building.
Visiting in the summer
: Story Hatchery has much to offer the summer visitor! Because of the pleasant weather and frequent wildlife sightings, this is our most visited time of year. Deer, marmots and several species of migratory birds are often found around the hatchery grounds. There is a picnic area and park/playground operated by the Sheridan County Parks and Recreation District located directly outside of the gate. Two U.S. Forest Service ORV, horse, and hiking trailheads are located within one half mile. Other popular local attractions include several geo-cache sites, Lake DeSmet, Fort Phil Kearney and the Wagon Box Fight and Fetterman Massacre sites. Several local Story businesses offer lodging, food and drink and gift-type items.
A fall or spring visit
: If your main goal is to view wildlife, the spring and fall are the best times to visit. Deer, marmots, the occasional moose and bear, wild turkeys and many different bird species pass through during these times. Please note that the weather may change quickly and be on the lookout for icy walking conditions. Also be aware that, due to spawning activities, the Lake Trout Brood Stock Pond area may be temporarily closed from mid- September to mid- October.
: Because of Story’s elevation and nearness to the Bighorn Mountains, winter generally arrives in mid-November and stays until mid- April. Although temperatures may be quite cold and the weather unpredictable, this can be an excellent time of year to see wildlife such as deer, wild turkeys, bald eagles and waterfowl. Story receives approximately 12 feet of snow annually so the workers spend much time plowing snow. Please use caution and watch for snow falling from roofs and working snow removal equipment when visiting this time of year.
: Because Story is the most heavily visited of Wyoming’s hatcheries, guided tours are only available to schools and organized groups. Tours are by appointment only, are dependent on the hatchery schedule and must be arranged a minimum of two weeks in advance. Tours on weekends in the summer and drop-in tours cannot be accommodated. The Story Hatchery tour lasts approximately one hour and includes a ten minute educational video, general tour of the facility that explains the operation from egg to adult and many opportunities to ask questions. If there are special topics to be discussed, please tell us when scheduling. Several accommodations can be made for handicap, elderly or special needs groups as requested.
: Story Hatchery is located in north eastern Wyoming approximately ten miles from Interstate 90. From the east/south (Gillette/Buffalo) - take I-90 Exit 44 to State Highway 87 to State Highway 194. From the north/west (Sheridan) - take I-90 Exit 33 to State Highway 87 to State Highway 194. The Story Fish Hatchery is located at the end of State Highway 194.