A Game and Fish Employee adds kokanee fish eggs to an incubation jar at Dan Speas Fish Hatchery

What is a fish hatchery?

Wyoming Game and Fish Department fish hatcheries are places where we breed, hatch and raise fish. Millions of fish produced in Wyoming hatcheries are stocked into the state's waters yearly. We obtain several million cool and warm-water fish each year by trading fish with other hatcheries to get fish species that we don't raise in Wyoming, like walleye, largemouth bass and catfish. These facilities are integral to our efforts to provide quality fishing, native species restoration and fisheries management.

Types of fish hatcheries

Fish hatcheries


As the name suggests, hatcheries grow fish at all life-cycle stages, including hatching fish from eggs. Out of the 10 Game and Fish facilities that produce fish for Wyoming, seven are considered fish hatcheries.

Rearing stations


Rearing stations receive fish that have already hatched from eggs at a fish hatchery. Rearing stations raise fish to size until they're ready to stock. Three of the 10 Game and Fish facilities for producing fish for Wyoming are considered rearing stations.

Fish hatchery locations


Wyoming has 10 fish hatcheries and rearing stations. Fish hatchery locations were chosen because of access to high-quality water sources. Many of the hatcheries are in beautiful locations and will give you the unique opportunity to view fish culture in progress, as well as enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Interactive fish hatchery location map

Find a fish hatchery near you

Visiting a fish hatchery


Wyoming fish hatcheries are open to the public every day from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Informational signs throughout the hatcheries describe the hatchery equipment and operations.


School and group tours are available with advanced approval so long as they fit into the hatchery's schedule. Please contact a hatchery if you would like to schedule a tour. You also can tour our hatcheries virtually by visiting a specific hatchery page below.

Wyoming fish hatcheries

A photo of the exterior of the Auburn Fish Hatchery Building

Located on Wyoming Highway 237 west of Auburn.

A view of the concrete raceways used for raising fish at the Boulder Rearing Station south of Pinedale, Wyoming

Located on U.S. Highway 191 south of Pinedale.

Game and Fish employees feed fish in concrete raceways at the Clark's Fork Fish Hatchery

A few miles off Wyoming Highway 120 north of Cody.

Game and Fish employee transfers kokanee fish eggs into an incubation jar in the hatchery building at Dan Speas Fish Hatchery

Located along the west bank of the North Platte River in Bessemer Bend.

An aerial photo of the concrete raceways inside a building at the Daniel Fish Hatchery.

Located on U.S. Highway 191 northwest of Pinedale.

Game and Fish Employees begin the incubation of grayling fish eggs in the incubation room at the Dubois Fish Hatchery.

Located on the Wind River Range's east slope south of Dubois.

Game and Fish employee transfers kokanee fish eggs into a cooler at the Story Fish Hatchery to prepare them for transport to another Wyoming Fish Hatchery.

Located at the base of the Bighorn Mountains in Story.

An aerial photo of the circular tanks used to raise fish at the Ten Sleep Fish Hatchery in Wyoming.

Located in Ten Sleep canyon east of the town of Ten Sleep.

The outside of Tillett Springs Rearing Station office with some covered concrete raceways for raising fish in the foreground

Located on Wyoming Highway 37 east of Lovell.

An aerial photo of Wigwam Fish Rearing Station in Ten Sleep Canyon with rocky bluffs and trees in the background.

Located on U.S. Highway 16 east of Ten Sleep.

Fish hatchery fun facts

  • The Wyoming Game and Fish Department stocks on average between 6 and 7 million fish annually.
  • Game and Fish provides online access to fish stocking data in the state dating back to 1985. View the information in the "Fish Stocking Report" on our website.
  • Fish stocking usually starts around April and stays steady until the heat of summer -- around mid-July. It picks back up when waters start to cool in mid-September and won't cease until mid-November.
  • Game and Fish hatcheries trade cold-water fish and eggs -- primarily trout -- with other states for cool- and warm-water species. Game and Fish stocks black crappie, bluegill, channel catfish, green sunfish hybrids, largemouth bass, sauger, tiger muskie, walleye and white crappie.
  • The Game and Fish hatchery system manages 11 captive brood stocks -- mature fish used in aquaculture for breeding purposes. We manage Snake River cutthroat trout, fall rainbow trout, Colorado River cutthroat trout, golden trout, brown trout, Eagle Lake rainbow trout, brook trout, lake trout, Yellowstone cutthroat trout, Bear River cutthroat trout and kokanee salmon.
  • Originally, Wyoming's kokanee eggs were solely-sourced from wild populations. As an effort to avoid disease and establish a more stable source of eggs, Tillett Rearing Station was selected to raise a captive broodstock. Wyoming manages the only active kokanee salmon broodstock program in the United States.
A Game and Fish employee cleans teal-colored fiberglass troughs with fish in them as part of her daily duties.

Importance of fish hatcheries

Hatchery management is one of the many functions of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Not all waters in Wyoming are stocked with hatchery fish, but fish are commonly stocked when habitat conditions don't allow natural recruitment or reproduction, such as in many lakes and reservoirs. Fish hatcheries are integral to our efforts to provide quality fishing, native species restoration and fisheries management. 

Fish hatchery process


It starts with broodstocks or fish used for breeding. Fish eggs are collected and fertilized during the spawning process. Next, fertilized eggs are incubated. Once eggs hatch, fish are moved into toughs to be raised. Fish that outgrow smaller, fiberglass troughs are moved to larger raceways, which are the biggest tanks for raising fish. Once fish get to the desired size, the fish are netted, loaded onto a distribution truck and stocked into waters across Wyoming.

A close-up photo of a hatchery worker's hands squeezing eggs out of a female golden trout at the Story Fish Hatchery

Fish spawning

The process of collecting and fertilizing eggs from adult fish at hatcheries is known as spawning. Fish typically become mature at age 4 and start producing eggs. When the fish prepare to spawn they travel upstream in search of suitable habitat. Fish hatchery personnel use this natural movement to capture spawning fish by placing a funnel-shaped trap between the brood pond and spawning pens. After the fish are captured they are separated by age and sex and held until the spawning day. When fish spawn depends on the species and it varies slightly from year to year.

Fish hatchery personnel spawn a male golden trout by squeezing milt onto eggs in a bowl.

Spawning process

Once the fish are ready to spawn, we collect eggs from the fish in bowls by gently squeezing the abdomen of a female. The eggs are then fertilized with the sperm -- also known as milt -- from a male. After spawning, some of the fish are kept for spawning the following year. Others are stocked into Wyoming waters. Fish are spawned at a ratio of 1:1 (male to female) to maintain genetic diversity. All eggs are first used to meet in-state requests. Any remaining eggs are traded with other states in return for fish that are not reared by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, such as catfish, walleye, tiger muskie and bass.


After spawning, fertilized eggs are put in incubators for incubation. Incubation is the period of time it takes for eggs to develop and hatch into fish. The incubation time for eggs to develop to the eyed-egg stage varies with water temperature, but it typically takes about 14-30 days. Once the eggs are eyed, they are then shocked, picked, inventoried, possibly shipped and put down to hatch. After hatching, the sac fry live off of their yolk for roughly another 25 days until they reach their swim-up stage and begin feeding. Once the fish grow into fry, the fish are placed in small troughs for rearing.

Fish stocking

Once fish have reached the size requested by fish management crews they are ready to be stocked. Personnel crowd the fish in the rearing units using a seine. From here, personnel load the fish onto a distribution truck by hand or by using a fish pump. Game and Fish has several distribution trucks capable of hauling as many as 14,000 9-inch fish in the largest unit. When a high-mountain lake or backcountry stream needs to be stocked, a smaller distribution truck capable of holding 1,900 9-inch fish will be used. Most fish, approximately 85 percent, are stocked in lakes, ponds and reservoirs and the rest are stocked in streams. Trucks are the most common way of transporting fish from the facility to a lake or river. However, other methods used to stock fish include:


  1. Truck
  2. Helicopter
  3. Barges/Boat
  4. Horse packing
  5. Backpacking
  6. ATV

Trucks with insulated tanks keep the water cool, while oxygen bottles and aerators provide oxygen to the fish during transport. Barges with onboard tanks are used when fish need to be stocked in a particular part of a river or lake. Helicopters are used when a lake is inaccessible by truck, such as in high-mountain lakes in wilderness areas. All of the spawning, rearing and stocking means better fishing for anglers in Wyoming! 


To keep the fish alive and healthy during transport, each tank is equipped with special life support systems. The equipment includes oxygen bottles, oxygen diffusers and aerators.


Helicopter fish stocking

Fish distribution truck stocking

Horse packing stocking

ATV stocking

Backpack fish stocking

Community fishery fish stocking

The statewide spawning crew spawns kokanee behind a fish trap that kokanee run into before the spawning crew collects their eggs

Statewide Spawning Crew Overview

The Crew's Objectives

Their primary objective is to trap, spawn and collect fertilized fish eggs from various wild fish populations throughout Wyoming. Eggs are used for fish production, species recovery, trades with other state/federal agencies, or brood recruitment for wild and captive broodstocks. Annually, the spawning crew collects several million fish eggs from wild fish populations throughout Wyoming. 

The statewide wild fish spawning crew is based in Pinedale, Wyoming.

A member of the statewide spawning crew gets ready to collect eggs from a kokanee.

Spawning Wild Fish

Spawning fish in the wild first requires capturing mature adults with various methods, including trap nets, dip nets, seines, v-traps, gill nets, and electro-fishing. Fish eggs gathered for fish production come primarily from kokanee salmon and walleye.

Game and Fish personnel collect kokanee eggs for testing

Ensuring Genetic Integrity of Native Cutthroat

In addition to wild fish spawning, the statewide spawning crew is challenged with determining ways to ensure the genetic integrity of Wyoming’s four recognized sub-species of cutthroat trout is maintained. (Snake River, Bear River, Yellowstone, and Colorado Cutthroat). Techniques in completing this task are evolving but this has been accomplished by wild milt collection for genetic infusion with our captive broodstocks, as well as soon using new science with cryopreservation to store and catalog
wild and captive genetic material for future use and broodstock development.

A Game and Fish employee loads fish into a tank to be stocked via helicopter into Wyoming's alpine lakes.

Alpine Lake Fish Stocking

The spawning crew coordinates the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s alpine lake fish stocking program. Approximately 60 – 70 lakes are stocked annually via helicopter using GPS coordinates. This operation provides opportunities for back country fishers to catch unique fish species and maintains fish numbers when natural reproduction cannot sustain the population.