Mackay Fish Hatchery
Friday, December 13, 2013
The Mackay Fish Hatchery is located 10 miles north of Mackay, Idaho on Highway 93 and approximately 5 miles west on Fish Hatchery Rd. Follow the signs from the highway as you cross the Big Lost River and approach the hatchery near the base of Lehman Butte. The primary funding source for Mackay Fish Hatchery is IDFG fishing and hunting license dollars.
Mackay Fish Hatchery started on Warm Springs Creek near the backwaters of the Mackay Reservoir in 1924 as a spawning and egg incubating field station. Superior water quality brought the hatchery to its present site in 1925, allowing for expansion to include fish production. Warm Springs supplies all the water for the facility which originates on the hatchery grounds. Water temperature averages 52°F and water flows can vary from 17 - 23 cubic feet per second.
There are 8 large outdoor raceways, 400 feet in length, mainly for catchable trout production. An additional 10 outdoor raceways, each 40 feet long, are used for specialty fingerling rearing such as kokanee and Yellowstone cutthroat trout. Another group of 8 outdoor raceways, each 100 feet long, are used for rainbow trout and Yellowstone cutthroat trout. The hatchery building houses 30 early-rearing troughs and 196 egg incubation trays capable of holding over 2 million eggs. The hatchery annually produces 70,000-90,000 catchable trout and 3 - 5 million fingerling trout.
Several hundred visitors tour the remote location of the hatchery each year, many not anticipating a fish hatchery situated in a high plains desert setting. The hatchery overlooks the scenic Big Lost River mountain range, which has many of the highest peaks in Idaho. Numerous recreational opportunities surround the hatchery including fishing the Big Lost River, Mackay Reservoir and numerous streams in the Copper Basin area west of the hatchery. Individual hatchery tours can be conducted any day between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. while larger groups are requested to make arrangements with hatchery staff prior to their visit. Call (208) 588-2219 for an appointment.
The primary mission of the hatchery is to produce rainbow trout, Henrys Lake Yellowstone cutthroat trout, Snake River fine spot Yellowstone cutthroat trout, rainbow/cutthroat hybrid trout, kokanee and Westslope cutthroat trout. Fish raised at the Mackay Fish Hatchery are stocked statewide.
When available, the hatchery raises Arctic grayling and golden trout fingerlings which are used for high mountain lake stocking programs in south-central Idaho.