Hatchery Fact Sheet - Spire Valley

  • Year-round, cold water facility
  • Species produced: Kamloops rainbow trout and steelhead
  • 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? To raise coldwater trout.

What is the general technology used for the hatchery? Water wells, aerators, bio-rings in packed columns, generators, and cannon jars for eggs.

Has the technology been modified since establishment? The equipment has been replaced over time as the older items wear out. Overall the technology used in the hatchery is the same since 1946.

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.


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.


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.



Kamloop brood stock returning up the French River are caught and spawned for eggs in January. Spire Valley Hatchery picks up the eggs in April and May when they are eyed. All of these eggs are surface disinfected before being put on hatchery water. A portion of the fish is stocked that fall as fingerlings. In the fall, 12,000 fingerlings will be stocked in Northeastern Minnesota lakes. The remaining fish are reared to yearlings and stocked the next spring (they hatched the previous spring). The actual number stocked changes from year to year, based on management needs. Steelhead eggs are taken from captive brood stock at French River. The eyed eggs are brought to Spire Valley, disinfected, and raised until they are fry. Once the fish have swum up to the surface of the trays, they will be stocked. Steelhead fry are never given artificial feed from the hatchery.

In 2011, 92% of the Rainbow trout produced in Spire Valley will be stocked along the North Shore. The remaining 8% will be stocked in Central Minnesota. All of the steelhead will be stocked on the North Shore.

Science Informing Management

What types of research help with management decisions for this hatchery? None

What other factors are involved with management decisions involving this hatchery? Methods that have worked at other hatcheries.

What types of research or other science activities occur along with the activities in this hatchery? None

How does the data collected and/or research conducted at this hatchery inform/affect fisheries managers and fisheries habitats? They don’t. The fisheries managers tell us how the lakes are doing. They also request the number of fish they desire for each lake that is stocked. We raise that many fish.


Seasonal Tours Available, Reservations Required

Phone: 218-792-5164

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