Wigwam Rearing Station

Wigwam Rearing Station

Wigwam Rearing Station (with fishing access)
2420 Highway 16 East
Tensleep, Wyoming 82442
ph: (307) 366-2217

Located 4 miles east of the town of Tensleep on Highway 16.

The Wigwam Rearing Station is situated on 420 acres near the mouth of the Ten Sleep Canyon four miles east of the town of Ten Sleep. Prior to becoming a Wyoming state fish rearing facility, this location was a dude ranch. Wigwam was renovated from money that was generously allocated from the 2004 legislature, and construction was completed in 2005.

In 2008, the parasite that causes whirling disease was detected in fish reared at Wigwam. In 2012, water treatment buildings were constructed and ultra violet radiation systems with drum filters were installed to eliminate the infectious stage of the parasite. Since 2012, Wigwam has been whirling disease free and is back in full fish production.

Where does Wigwam get its water?

Two springs and one well provide approximately 1800 gallons per minute at a constant temperature of 49 degrees F. This constant flow and temperature is important for raising trout by providing year round growth and allowing personnel to determine how many fish can be held on station at any given time.

What kind of fish are at Wigwam?

Generally, Wigwam raises rainbow trout and Bear River cutthroat trout. However, Wigwam has raised brown trout, splake (brook trout X lake trout hybrid), brook trout, Snake River cutthroat trout, kokanee salmon, and tiger trout (brook trout X brown trout hybrid). Wigwam is also the home of the Bear River cutthroat trout brood stock. A brood stock is a group of adult fish that supply eggs for future fish production.

The Bear River cutthroat trout is native to the Bear River drainage in southwest Wyoming. They are an extremely important native fish and are used for both restoration purposes and for enhanced sport fishing opportunities.

Spawning time for these brood fish begins around the end of March. Only 3 year old and 4 year old fish are spawned. 3 year old fish are only crossed with 4 year old fish to maintain genetic variability. If fish of the same age were crossed, there would be a significant chance that brothers and sisters would be crossed, ultimately diluting the genetic blueprint of the fish. Fish are manually stripped of eggs and milt from the males is added to fertilize the eggs. Once the eggs are fertilized, they are shipped in coolers full of water to another hatchery where they are incubated and hatched.

Where are the little fish?

For the most part, Wigwam is a rearing station and does not have the capability to hatch enough eggs to meet fish stocking demands. We do hatch approximately 200,000 eggs in a limited amount of space, but around half of the fish that Wigwam raises have to come to the facility as a transfer from another fish hatchery. This means generally, we do not handle eggs after the spawn and only receive fish to rear after they reach a size of about 2 inches long or receive "eyed eggs" to hatch and raise ourselves.

How fast do the fish at Wigwam grow?

Because fish are cold blooded creatures, they grow based on water temperature. The warmer the water, the faster they grow, and the colder the water, the slower they grow. Wigwam's water is 49 degrees F, so fish here grow at a moderate rate. Growth also depends on the species of fish. Rainbow trout grow faster than cutthroat trout. Rainbow trout grow about ¾ of an inch a month and cutthroat trout grow about ½ inch a month here at Wigwam.

How do you keep ice off of the water in winter?

All of the fish rearing tanks are supplied with spring water. Spring water comes out of the ground at Wigwam at a constant 49 degrees F year round. Because there is a large volume of water constantly flowing through the fish rearing tanks, the temperature doesn't change whether it is 100 degrees or 30 below zero outside.

How many fish do you raise?

Although it can vary greatly from year to year, Wigwam typically raises about 250,000 to 500,000 fish that total 35,000 to 45,000lbs. Each rearing unit can have anywhere from 8,000 to 40,000 fish depending on the size of the fish. Smaller fish take up less room in a tank, therefore many more small fish will fit in one tank. As the fish grow, they are thinned into empty tanks until they are ready to be released.

How do you haul fish to area lakes and streams?

Once fish have reached a desired size, they are counted and loaded onto a truck that has water and oxygen. The fish are then transported down the highway or back road to their destination. Fish are also hauled by ATV's, boats, and helicopter as well. But, the vast majority of fish are hauled by truck.
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