Mackay Fish Hatchery
Sunday, May 19, 2013
The Mackay Fish Hatchery is located 10 miles north of Mackay 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, Barton Flat, and reach the hatchery near the base of Lehman Butte.
Mackay Hatchery started on Warm Springs Creek near the backwaters of the Mackay reservoir in 1924 as a spawning and egg-eyeing 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 cubic feet per second (cfs) in the late winter to 23 cfs in mid summer.
There are 8 large raceways, 400 feet in length, mainly for catchable trout production. Ten raceways, four feet deep and 40 feet long are used for specialty fingerling rearing such as kokanee salmon and Yellowstone cutthroat. A group of 8 raceways, two feet deep and 100 feet long are used to start rainbow trout and Yellowstone trout to be the following year's catchables. The hatchery building houses 30 early-rearing troughs and 196 egg incubation trays capable of holding over 2 million eggs.
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. Many recreational opportunities surround the hatchery; including fishing the Big Lost River, the Mackay reservoir, and numerous streams in the Copper Basin area west of the hatchery. Individual hatchery tours can be conducted any day between 8am and 4:30 pm while larger groups are requested to make arrangements with hatchery staff prior to their visit.
From 1925 through 2008, Mackay Hatchery has stocked over 150 million fish, comprised of 16 species and 47 different strains into 725 unique stocking sites. Mackay Hatchery currently raises Rainbow trout, Henrys Lake Yellowstone cutthroat trout, Snake River Fine Spot cutthroat trout, Rainbow/cutthroat hybrid trout, Kokanee salmon and Westslope cutthroat trout.
The hatchery produces 70,000-90,000 catchable trout and 3 to 5 million fingerling. Catchable trout are distributed within a 100 mile radius of the hatchery while the fingerlings are stocked statewide. When available, the hatchery will raise Arctic grayling and golden trout fingerlings to be used for mountain lake stocking in the south-central Idaho regions.