Dan Speas Fish Hatchery
Box 8200, Speas Road
Casper, Wyoming 82604
The Dan Speas Fish Hatchery was originally constructed in 1957, and began full production by 1959. In 2005, an expansion and renovation project began which was completed in 2012. This renovation enables visitors the opportunity to see a state of the art facility that raises fish on a large scale from eggs to a catchable size.
Speas' water supply comes from the Goose Egg Spring, the largest fresh water spring in the state of Wyoming. In 2007 the spring was covered to prevent the introduction of disease into the water from wildlife and human interaction. The cover also serves as a shade to prevent the growth of algae. The spring supplies Speas with6000 gallons of water per minute, at a constant temperature of 60 F. In 2005 a new artesian well was drilled to supply the hatchery with cooler, 54 F water. However, the water from the Goose Egg Spring and the well is supersaturated with nitrogen gas that causes gas bubble disease in trout. To reduce the high nitrogen gas all the water that flows through the facility is pumped through vacuum degassing towers. These towers strip excess gasses from the water. After flowing through the degassing towers, nitrogen levels are reduced from 124 percent to less than 100 percent saturation. The water is then re-oxygenated before being supplied to the eggs and fish.
Finished in 2011, the Speas hatchery building allows the facility to incubate and hatch eggs.Speas receives its eggs from other Wyoming hatcheries that raise fish specifically for egg production. The fish hatchery uses the cooler well water for hatching eggs. This cooler water is more conducive to egg incubation. The hatchery building also allows eggs from wild brood stocks to be isolated in a separate room, until they are determined to be disease free. This isolation room can incubate eggs from domestic brood stocks as well. Once the eggs have hatched and the fish start feeding, the hatchery can use the cooler well water or the warmer spring water to raise its fish.
With the completed expansion project, Speas has more than tripled its past production now raising approximately 260,000 pounds, or 1.3 million fish annually. With the use of the 60 F spring water, fish at Speas grow rapidly, approximately one inch per month! Species raised at Speas include Fall Spawn rainbow, Eagle Lake Rainbow, Firehole Rainbow, Snake River Cutthroat, Brook, and Brown Trout. Fish are started as eggs in the hatchery and then moved to the rearing units once they reach a desired size, approximately two inches in length. Then the fish will be held for another 2 to 6 months depending on the requested size for stocking. The fish are stocked out as advanced fingerlings (3-5 inches) or as a catchable (8-10 inch) fish. Although Speas stocks fish statewide, most of the fish produced at this facility are stocked into the waters of the North Platte River system (Alcova, Pathfinder and Seminoe lakes), the Laramie Plains lakes, and Flaming Gorge Reservoir.
The size of the fish raised at Speas is determined by recommendations from the area fishery managers. Trout that are grown to a catchable size fish are released into waters that have high angler use and/or predation from other piscivorous fish like walleye.
Once the fish have reached the desired size, they are ready to be stocked. Speas 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. The Speas Fish Hatchery has five distribution trucks capable of hauling as many as 14,000 9-inch fish in the largest unit. When a high mountain lake or back country stream needs to be stocked, a smaller distribution truck capable of holding 1,900 9-inch fish will be used. In order 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. Because of the constant warm water supply and rapid fish growth, Speas is able to stock catchable-size fish twice annually. The spring stocking season begins around the first of April, and ends around the first of June. The fall stocking season begins about the end of September, and ends by the end of October.
The facility is located along the west bank of the North Platte River, in an area called Bessemer Bend. Take Wyoming highway 220 approximately 6 miles from the intersection of 220 and Robertson Road, and then turn north on Bessemer Bend Road. Stay on the black top and follow the signs to this beautiful facility. The Dan Speas Fish Hatchery is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Guided tours are available to school groups, organizations, and the general public by making a reservation.