Most of the trout lost at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Chelan Fish Hatchery due to heavy rain last week will be replaced by other state hatcheries for stocking in northcentral Washington lakes.
About 340,000 rainbow, brook, and tiger trout fingerlings, representing 57 percent of the hatchery’s expected annual production of those species, were lost the night of March 21 when a water intake became clogged.
Eric Kinne, WDFW Hatchery Systems Manager, said heavy rain washed soil and debris into the intake, plugging the screens and cutting off water flow to the fish incubation building. The rain washed down the steep hillside behind the hatchery, where re-vegetation is still underway following wildfires in 2015 that destroyed all the soil-holding trees.
Kinne said WDFW is moving surplus fish from the state’s Columbia Basin and Spokane hatcheries to replace most of the loss. As a result, lakes in Douglas, Chelan, and Okanogan counties will receive at least 80 percent of their planned trout stocking this spring. He said WDFW is continuing to search for more fish to replace the lost stocks.
The Chelan Hatchery, located near the town of Chelan in Chelan County, is one of the oldest trout hatcheries in the state, using gravity-fed springs as its sole water source. It annually produces 1.3 million rainbow, brook, brown, cutthroat, and tiger trout and kokanee for lowland and high lake stocking.
The state hatchery is adjacent to another hatchery, which is owned by Chelan Public Utilities District and operated by WDFW. Production at that hatchery was not affected by the heavy rains, because groundwater wells provide its water.