American Falls Fish Hatchery
Sunday, May 19, 2013
The American Falls Fish Hatchery raises rainbow trout on the north bank of the Snake River, one-half mile below the American Falls Reservoir Dam, and two miles by road from the town of American Falls. From Interstate 86, take Exit 39 onto Highway 39, and head north toward Aberdeen. After crossing American Falls dam, turn left and then immediately left again. This is Fish Hatchery Road. Follow the road for one mile to the hatchery.
The hatchery is a modern production facility that sits on 101 acres adjacent the Snake River. Buildings on site include an office, shop, hatchery building, visitor bathroom, three stall garage, Quonset building and three residences. The hatchery contains 20 outdoor raceways with a total of 45,360 cubic feet of rearing space and 14 indoor concrete vats with a total of 2,450 cubic feet of rearing space. The rearing space is adequate to produce around 100,000 pounds of fish annually. Fish are stocked using a two-ton truck with a 1,000-gallon tank and a one-ton truck with a 500-gallon tank. Water for the hatchery comes from Rueger Springs which has an annual average flow of 20 cubic feet per second flow and a constant temperature of 56°F. The spring is monitored by the Idaho Department of Water Resources and is part of the vast Eastern Snake River Plain Aquifer.
Visitors are welcome at the American Falls hatchery from dawn to dusk, 365 days a year. There is a picnic area with two picnic benches and a public fish viewing station. Many visitors enjoy feeding the large rainbow trout that swim behind the boulders at the fish viewing site. Guided tours are available from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day. Reservations are suggested. Call 208-226-2015 for reservations. The hatchery also has a self-guided nature trail on the property, which can take from 30 minutes to two hours to complete, depending on the route chosen. Bald eagles, osprey, ducks, swans and a variety of other birds can be seen from the nature trail. There is public access by foot to the river from the hatchery which is often used by bird watchers, hunters and anglers.
The primary mission of the hatchery is to rear about 220,000 catchable sized, 10-inch rainbow trout. These fish are stocked in the waters of Southeast Idaho and northern Idaho for anglers to catch. The hatchery also produces about 2,000 catchable, 16-inch rainbow trout and 30,000 brown trout. Fingerling rainbow trout and rainbow/cutthroat hybrids and cutthroat trout are also produced when necessary.