Hatchery Fact Sheet - Detroit Lakes

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


The Current Detroit Lakes Hatchery was established in .

Why was it established?

What is the general technology used for the hatchery?

Has the technology been modified since establishment?

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 40 to 45 degrees. Workers collect, then combine, the eggs and milt from walleye spawning where the Pelican River enters Lake Sallie. Spawning usually lasts one to two weeks. In a typical day, 10 - 40 quarts of eggs are collected. Each quart contains approximately 120,000 eggs. The fertilized eggs are transported to the hatchery and hatch in three weeks.

Fry are stocked in area lakes or rearing ponds. Fry in rearing ponds are raised to fingerling stage (approximately 4 - 6 inches long); then are stocked in area lakes in September and October.

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?


Seasonal Tours Available, Reservations Required

Phone: 218-846-8290.

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

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