Hatchery Fact Sheet - St. Paul

  • Seasonal, cool water facility
  • Species produced: Walleye, Muskellunge, & Tiger Muskie
  • Year Established: 1877


This was the first State run hatchery facility, established in 1877, and was first called the Willow Brook hatchery, then Mounds Park hatchery and finally St. Paul hatchery.

Why was it established? It was established as a holding, rearing, and shipping station, due to it’s close proximity to the railroad, and abundance of spring water. A wide variety of fish species were raised, held, and stocked statewide. Milk cans were used as shipping containers, and transported in railroad box cars.

What is the general technology used for the hatchery? The original water sources were several coldwater springs, diverted into raceways, and 7 ponds. The St. Paul Hatchery has been remodeled several times. Only two of the original spring fed ponds are still in use. In the 1940’s two new wells were drilled, with a third added in 1988-89.

Has the technology been modified since establishment? The general technology used for the hatchery was last upgraded in 1988-89 to include: all pumped well water, packed columns, a steam boiler, an oxygen injection system, and iron filters. This was all done to better aerate the well water supply to the facility. The cold water portion of the hatchery was closed in 1994.

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.


Fertilized eggs are transported to the St. Paul Hatchery from other sites throughout the State. Walleye eggs hatch to fry in 14 to 22 days. The fry are stocked in area lakes and rearing ponds. The annual number of walleye fry produced at this facility varies from 8 to 16 million.

Tiger muskie and pure strain muskie are reared to 1 1/4 to 2 inch fingerlings in the hatchery before being stocked in rearing ponds where they are grown to 10 to 13 inches before being stocked in lakes throughout the state.

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?