Region 4 |
Big Springs Trout Hatchery is the largest coldwater production facility in the state, located 7 miles southeast of Lewistown next to Big Springs.
Big Springs Trout Hatchery started in 1922 with help from the City of Lewistown and the local Rod & Gun Club. During the 1930's the federal government created "New Deal" programs to provide employment. Several of these programs, including the Works Progress Administration (WPA) built rock walled ponds and bridges for the hatchery and spring area, and planted willow trees around the spring area. Some of these rock works along with the willow trees are still standing. Additions have been made to the hatchery through the years including buildings with inside raceways, outside raceways, houses and garages. In 1959 an additional site was developed ½ mile down the road, which includes 30 outside raceways. This addition is called the lower unit and the original hatchery is called the upper unit. The lower unit originally got its water directly from Big Springs Creek, which caused problems when the water became muddy due to floods and rain. In the early 1970's, a canal and pipe system was constructed which allowed the lower unit to get water directly from Big Springs, thus eliminating the muddy water problem. In the 1990's with the discovery of whirling disease in Montana, the hatchery improved and enclosed the water supplies to prevent contamination.
Today Big Springs Trout Hatchery is the largest coldwater production facility in the state. The hatchery is capable of producing 130,000 pounds of fish annually. These fish are planted in about 100 different waters throughout the state. Different strains of rainbow are raised as well as Yellowstone cutthroat, brown trout, and Kokanee salmon. Most eggs are received from other hatcheries. Kokanee, and some strains of rainbow are spawned in the wild at different lakes. The upper unit has egg incubation and indoor raceways where fish are raised to about 2". Fish are then moved into outside raceways at the upper or lower unit for more growth. The size of fish stocked averages around 4-8".
Big Springs Trout Hatchery is located seven miles southeast of Lewistown at the source of Big Springs. From Lewistown, go south on 1st Avenue South, which turns into Upper Spring Creek Road (County Road 238) as it leaves town. Drive 5 miles, and then take a right onto Fish Hatchery Road (County Road 466). Drive 2 miles and you will see the signs for the upper and lower units of the hatchery.
(Lat 47.002, Lng
If you have questions or comments please send mail to: Big Springs Trout Hatchery,
2035 Fish Hatchery Road Lewistown, MT 59457
or call 406-538-5588