Story Hatchery & Visitor Center
P.O. Box 160, 311R Fish Hatchery Rd.
Story, Wyoming 82842
The Story Fish Hatchery is located along the east slope of the Bighorn Mountains in northeast Wyoming. The original hatchery buildings were built in 1909 to serve the needs of northern Wyoming. Throughout the years, the 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 small fish are reared. In front of this building are raceways that hold the mid-size future brood stock. Behind the hatchery building, the vacuum degassing buildings, brood building and settling ponds are located. The tan and green brood building houses three different brood stocks (adult breeding fish), and includes a spawning area and large, modern egg incubation room.
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 this spring flows considerably less than the other two sources, its lack of silt and moderate temperature (37-48° F) make it ideal for incubating eggs. Lastly, the 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.
In 2005, one group of fish from the Story Hatchery tested positive for the parasite that causes whirling disease. While not harmful to humans, this parasite has been known to adversely affect wild populations of trout. In order to ensure the safety of Wyoming’s wild trout, all fish at Story destined for release were destroyed. But, because the whirling disease parasite cannot be passed from an infected adult to the egg, the Story Hatchery was developed into a brood stock only facility. Because it is much different raising large brood fish that are kept for 5 to 15 years than it is for mid-size stocking fish that are kept for one to two years, several changes had to be made to the facility. New additions completed in 2010 include larger holding areas for the adult fish, new interconnected spawning channels that reduce handling stress, vacuum degassers to enhance water quality, a state-of-the-art egg incubation room and further development of the water sources to better capture flow and protect against environmental factors.
Story Hatchery currently houses five different brood stocks from which eggs are collected (spawned). Annually, the facility collects four to six million eggs depending on needs. All eggs are first used to meet Wyoming hatchery requests and any remaining eggs are then made available to other states in return for fish that cannot be reared in Wyoming such as catfish, walleye and bass. Fish at all Wyoming State hatcheries are for public use only or for endemic or native species restoration efforts. Here is a quick look at each of Story’s brood stocks:
• At five to15 years old, lake trout are the largest fish size-wise at the hatchery - they weigh between two and six 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 1.3 million eggs from this brood stock annually. These eggs may be shipped to Idaho,Tennessee and New Jersey. Female lake trout are also crossed with male brook trout to make a hybrid called a splake, about 250,000 splake eggs are taken yearly.
• Possibly Story’s “best dressed” fish are the brook trout brood stock. These fish spawn in October and November with each female producing between 1,200 and 2,200 eggs which combine for approximately one million annually. The states of Idaho and Nebraska are often recipients of these eggs. In addition to making splake, the male brook trout can also be crossed with a female brown trout to make hybrid tiger trout. Like splake, the tiger trout are a much sought after and hard fighting sport fish.
• New to Story in 2011 was the brown trout brood stock. Late October through early December is when this species spawns. Though culturists are still developing this group, they anticipate that each female will produce 1,000 to 2,000 eggs each year foran annual tally of one million eggs. For now,until they are more established, all of these eggs will stay in the state of Wyoming.
• Story’s largest brood stock is the spring-spawning Eagle Lake rainbow trout - there are approximately 3,000 fish in this group!Annually, each female produces 1,800 to 2,600 eggs that can combine for a total of up to 3 million. Though many of these eggs stayin-state, federal hatcheries in Utah and Tennessee typically receive the extras.
• 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 produce300 to 550 eggs per female each year that are used for fish stocking in Wyoming’s high mountain lakes.
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.
Parking: 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 hatchery employee 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 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 $0.25for 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.
Winter Visitation: 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 12feet 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.
Guided tours: Guided tours are only available to schools and organized groups. Tours are by appointment only, 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.
Getting here: 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 87to 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.