MAD RIVER FISH HATCHERY
1660 Hatchery Rd
Arcata, CA 95521
Mad River Hatchery is operated by the California Department of Fish
& Game. It was built by the California Wildlife Conservation Board
to enhance salmon and steelhead populations in the North Coast streams
of California. Construction began in August of 1969 and was completed in
February of 1971. Half of the $2.5 million construction cost was reimbursed
with funds provided by the Federal Andronomous Fisheries. The Department
pays operating costs primarily from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses.
The hatchery has six permanent employees.
FISH LIFE CYCLE
Juvenile chinook salmon enter the ocean during their first year of life
after spending only a few months in fresh water. After spending from 3
to 4 years in the ocean, they return to their river of origin to spawn
and die. All Pacific salmon, both male and female, die after spawning.
Steelhead and coho(silver salmon) spend at least one year in freshwater,
before making the journey to the sea. Most return in their third or forth
year to spawn. Steelhead do not necessarily die after spawning and some
spawn a second or third time.
The hatchery rearing pond water system is a closed, or recirculating,
type. It then flows into the filter ponds. The filters contain oyster shell
and broken rock to help purify the water. After being filtered, the water
is pumped through the aeration towers and back to the ponds where it passes
through ultraviolet lights to further purify the water before entering
the ponds. Under full operation, the hatchery will recirculate approximately
25 million gallons per day. Well water, because of it's clarity and even
temperature, is used for egg incubation and the rearing of fish. The water
for the adult holding ponds, gathering tank, and fish ladder is pumped
from the lower end of the rearing ponds.
The fish are fed a special diet that comes in granulated sizes. Ingredients
are: herring, cotton seed, wheat, kelp, tuna viscera, crab meal, and vitamin
supplements. It is a nutritious, well-controlled salmon diet.
Approximate egg production per female:
Chinook salmon --- 3,500
Coho salmon ------- 2,500
Steelhead ----------- 4,000
The annual production of Mad River Hatchery is currently 250,000 steelhead
yearlings, 64,000 catchable Rainbow trout and varying numbers of chinook
smolts and yearlings and coho yearlings depending on the number of adults
trapped the previous season. The salmon smolts are 3 to 4 inches long and
the salmon and steelhead yearlings are 6 to 10 inches long when released.
The salmon and steelhead are released back into the Mad River and
catchable Rainbows are planted in the spring and fall, into several lakes
in the surrounding lakes.
Fish Hatchery Manager II