Hatchery Fact Sheet - Pike River

  • Seasonal, cool water facility
  • Species produced: Walleye
  • Year Established: 1885


The Current Pike River Hatchery was established in 1885.

Why was it established? Pike River Hatchery has a long and varied history dating back to 1885. The location of the hatchery has been next to Pike River off of county road 77. Just upstream of the hatchery is the Pike River Dam. From 1946 through 1970, except for an ?emergency? egg take in 1950, the hatchery did not operate. In 1971, the current hatchery was built. In 2001, the hatchery was replumbed with plastic piping, new chillers and electrical service were installed. The chillers allowed more control of the water temperature in the hatchery and subsequent time when walleye fry would hatch. Typically, Pike River hatches approximately 900 quarts that produces 130 million fry. Approximately 16,000 male and female walleye are stripped to produce these eggs. The spawntaking location is downstream from the hatchery.

What is the general technology used for the hatchery? Water is circulated through the hatchery and egg jars until eggs hatched. The fry are then transported out of the hatchery to predetermined locations.

Has the technology been modified since establishment? A chilling device is used to allow more control of the water temperature in the hatchery and subsequent time when eggs hatch.

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.

Walleye Management

Minnesota has more walleye, walleye lakes, and walleye anglers than any other state. Each year, anglers harvest about 3.5 million walleye.

The best way to maintain walleye numbers is to protect critical habitats. Shore land zoning and related laws aid fish by controlling development and protecting spawning sites and aquatic plants that fish use for cover.

Stocking is another management tool used. Minnesota’s cool water hatcheries produce 2 - 5 million walleye fingerlings and millions of fry each year. Stocking can provide walleye fishing in lakes that lack spawning habitats but can otherwise support walleye. Stocking is also effective for lakes that have been “rehabilitated” or occasionally winterkill. Like any tool, stocking must be used appropriately. If misused, it will be ineffective or possibly harmful to existing fish populations. Stocked walleye may compete for food with other game fish, particularly largemouth or smallmouth bass.

Stocking a lot of small fish does not guarantee catching a lot of big fish. Fish managers estimate only 4 percent of the annual statewide walleye catch comes from stocked fish. The rest is the result of natural reproduction.

Loss of habitat, pollution, and increasing fishing pressure continue to be the biggest issues in walleye management. Everyone must work to improve water quality, control runoff and waterfront development, and maintain aquatic vegetation. Anglers, in addition, will need to comply with regulations and harvest only what they intend to use, for Minnesota to maintain a quality fishery.


Walleye begin spawning in April as water temperatures approach 45 degrees. A small proportion of Lake Vermilion's walleye run up the Pike River to spawn. Workers collect, then combine, the eggs and milt from walleye. Spawning usually lasts one to two weeks. Each season approximately 130,000,000 eggs are taken; 75,000,000 fertilized eggs are shipped to other State hatcheries and the remainder are kept at the Pike River Hatchery. Fry hatch from eggs in three weeks.

Lake Vermilion is stocked with approximately 15,000,000 fry each spring; the remainder of these fry are stocked into other lakes and ponds in northeast Minnesota.

Science Informing Management

What types of research help with management decisions for this hatchery? A certain portion of the fry hatched from the eggs are marked with oxytetracycline. This mark helps determine whether walleye are from stocking or from natural reproduction. This mark stays with the walleye through their life.

What other factors are involved with management decisions involving this hatchery? The lakes that are proposed for stocking are sampled to determine abundance of walleye. This will determine how much stocking of fry is needed. This will also determine how many eggs will need to be taken at spawntaking time.

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? Certain lakes have limited spawning habitat for walleye to spawn on and for eggs to hatch on. Because of this, these lakes need supplemental stocking in order to produce an abundant walleye population.


Seasonal Tours Available, Reservations Required

Phone: 218-753-5692

We are unable to give tours to casual visitors due to staffing limitations.