Spire Valley State Fish Hatchery

  • Year-round, cold water facility
  • Species produced: Kamloops rainbow trout and brook trout
  • Year Established: 1946


The Spire Valley Hatchery was established in 1946 as a private hatchery, and was bought by the State of Minnesota in 1968.

Why was it established? The hatchery was established because of several natural springs on-site. Pipes originally moved water to outdoor nursery tanks and earthen ponds. Over time, water wells were dug and pumps installed to bring in more water and increase production. Several tanks, a pole building, and weatherports were installed to protect fish and increase work efficiency. Back-up generators were installed to ensure water flows during power outages, and bird netting was installed to prevent predation by birds when fish are in outdoor ponds.

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.

Inland lakes managed for stream trout

Brook, brown, and rainbow trout are usually considered stream fish, but they can grow bigger in lakes. Trout require lakes that are cold, well-oxygenated, and free of pollutants. Approximately 180 Minnesota lakes are currently being managed for stream trout. The DNR also stocks splake - a cross between the male brook trout and female lake trout. Stream trout are not capable of reproducing in lakes and must be stocked regularly to maintain a fishery.

Most designated stream trout lakes are small bodies of water managed only for trout. A few larger lakes, however, are managed for warm water species (walleye, bass, panfish) in the shallow water, and for stream trout in the deeper water. These are referred to as two-story lakes.

Streams managed for trout

About 600 Minnesota streams (nearly 2,000 miles) are designated trout water. Most of the trout streams lie along the north shore of Lake Superior or in the Southeast. Stream characteristics differ considerably from northern to southern Minnesota affecting the type of fish management practiced.
North Shore streams are only fair trout habitats. They depend on runoff, so their flows and temperatures are unstable. The bedrock over which they flow has few minerals. Consequently, these soft-water streams tend to be slightly acidic and not very productive. Despite their shortcomings, most of these streams support wild brook trout and steelhead populations. In streams that provide marginal trout habitats, brown trout are stocked. Some larger streams are stocked with rainbow trout and chinook salmon.

Southeastern streams are mostly spring fed with cool temperatures and steady flow. Limestone in the drainage make these hard-water streams alkaline and very productive. Frequent insect hatches provide ample food for trout. Brown trout are best suited to this area but brook trout are also present In streams with limited natural reproduction and spawning habitat, the trout fishery is maintained by stocking. Some tributaries do, however, support self-sustaining populations of trout.


Rainbow trout production

Captive Kamloop brood stock are spawned for eggs from December into early February. A portion of the fish is stocked that fall as fingerlings in cenral Minnesota lakes and near Tower in northeastern Minnesota. The remaining fish are reared to yearlings and stocked the next spring in different lakes in the same geographic area. The number stocked varies from year to year, based on management needs but generally runs about 60,000 to 70,000 fish each year.

Domesticated brook trout production

Brook Trout eggs are received from Crystal Spring State Fish Hatchery near Altura, MN in late November and in December. The eggs are disinfected upon delivery to ensure that any pathogens are killed before entering production tanks. The eggs are raised in the weatherports until they are big enough to be moved out into one of the ponds. The majority of these fish are flown out or carried into lakes near Tower, Finland, and Grand Marais in early October. The rest are stocked in late October in the Brainerd area lakes. Production of brook trout has increased to around 50,000 fish per year.

Science Informing Management

What types of research help with management decisions for this hatchery? Various strains of trout have been raised by the hatchery. The ease of raising a certain strains and the longevity of fish strains in the lakes have influenced which strains are raised and stocked in the state.

What other factors are involved with management decisions involving this hatchery? Budget and staffing are important factors to determine the production capability of the hatchery. Water availability and use also affect the production flow and cycle week to week. Disease and protocols to minimize disease play a major role in protecting fish production and determining where fish can be stocked.

What types of research or other science activities occur along with the activities in this hatchery? NoneThere are currently no active research projects at Spire Valley. However, observation, advances in technology, and diagnostic techniques are used to ensure fish are healthy, water quality is appropriate for raising fish and discharging back in the environment, and to determine the cause of disease and appropriate treatments. One example of technology advances is the use of supplemental oxygen from tanks to increase the levels of oxygen in the water, allowing us to hold more fish in a tank and increase our overall production.

Tours & visits

Guided drop-in tours are available as staff time allows. Guided and group tours by appointment are preferred. Tours may begin from 8 am to 3:30 pm. Call 218-792-5164 to make arrangements.

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