Hatchery Fact Sheet - French River

  • Year-round, cold water facility
  • Species produced: Chinook Salmon, Steelhead, Kamloops, and Rainbow Trout

Fish Management

In general, fish management tools fall into one of four categories:

  • protecting and restoring habitats and water quality;
  • regulating the harvest;
  • stocking; and
  • public education.

Lake surveys and research provide the information used to select appropriate management tools.


The fish community in Lake Superior has changed greatly from a century ago due to the introduction of nonnative species and the effects of commercial fishing.

In managing Lake Superior, the highest priority has been the restoration of the lake trout. Minnesota closed commercial and sport fishing for the lake trout in 1962. Sport fishing reopened a few years later. Since 1962, the DNR and US Fish and Wildlife Service have planted about 300,000 six-inch lake trout along the North Shore each year. The results have been a 250% increase in lake trout netted during surveys.

Another important management goal for the Lake is to maintain the prized steelhead by protecting habitat, restricting harvest, scientific study and properly applied stocking. The DNR also stocks chinook. The chinook program, though it provides an exciting sport fish, remains secondary to the restoration of the native lake trout and maintenance of the steelhead.


These fish are reared to stock in North Shore streams and Lake Superior. Spawning adults are taken from the fish trap on the French River.

Chinook salmon spawn from September through November. Approximately 700,000 to 1,000,000 eggs are taken, fertilized, screened for disease, and raised to fingerling stage. Chinook fingerlings are stocked in North Shore where they stay for ten days before migrating to Lake Superior. The chinook feed in the lake for 3 to 4 years then return to the stream to spawn. Like all West Coast salmon, they die after spawning.

Steelhead and kamloops spawn in the spring (April through May). Eggs are fertilized, screened for disease and placed in incubation trays. Once hatched, the steelhead fry are stocked in North Shore streams. Steelhead spend 2 to 3 years in the stream then migrate to Lake Superior. Adult steelhead return to the stream in spring to spawn then return to the lake.

Kamloops are reared to various sizes. Some are stocked as fall fingerlings in northeastern inland lakes. Others are stocked in Lake Superior and are finclipped so they can be distinguished from steelhead. Adult kamloops return to the stream in spring to spawn then return to the Lake.

Science Informing Management

What types of research help with management decisions for this hatchery?

What other factors are involved with management decisions involving this hatchery?

What types of research or other science activities occur along with the activities in this hatchery?

How does the data collected and/or research conducted at this hatchery inform/affect fisheries managers and fisheries habitats?


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