Rambling Rodericks travel blog

Large earthen dam at Lost Creek Reservoir

Lost Creek Reservoir is a large and beautiful mountain lake

Looking down from the dam at the fish hatchery

A closer look at the hatchery and Rogue River outlet from the...

Entrance to the fish hatchery

A few of the rows and rows of fish tanks

The Rogue River is a beautiful river with its headwaters in the pumice fields on the northwest side of Crater Lake National Park. In 1962 and 1964 the Rogue flooded, taking out the bridge in Shady Cove, right by where we camped. Not long after, the William Jess Dam was built at the convergence of the Rogue and Lost Creek, which resulted in the Lost Creek Reservoir.

Later, in 1973, a fish hatchery was built just below the dam. This one was named after an influential biologist, Cole M. Rivers, "Mr. Rogue River", who served along the river from 1943 to 1964. For those who don't know about fish hatcheries, remember your school science lessons about some fish which are born in fresh water and then migrate out to the ocean, returning several years later to the very location from which they were spawned. As dams are built along those rivers, the fish can no longer get back to their "home" breeding ground. That's where the hatcheries come in. At the dam a stepped water-way, called a fish ladder, lets the fish think they are braving the rapids up to their home location. They are then taken into the hatchery and are hand bred. The fish are going to die, naturally, right after spawning, so the process of hand removing the eggs and the sperm is just a mechanized way of dealing with the spawning in an environment which guarantees the successful production of the next generation of "fishies".

The hatchery raises two types of "trout": Rainbow, to release into local lakes and streams, and Steelhead (ocean going trout), some of which are released from the hatchery into the Rogue, and others which are trucked to the smaller, local fish hatcheries from whence their predecessors were collected. For instance, our favorite little coastal town of Bandon, has a small hatchery. The Steelhead are collected there, and trucked up to the Cole Rivers Hatchery. When those particular Steelhead are a particular age and size, they are then trucked back down to Bandon where they are then released.

The Cole Rivers Hatchery also sees Winter and Spring Chinook, aka "King Salmon", and Coho, aka "Silver Salmon". While we visited, the fish tanks were mostly empty and the fish ladder was closed....wrong time of year for most activities. But a couple tanks were full of "fingerlings", little 2 inch fish, of Chinook, a couple tanks of 7"- 8" or so, Rainbow Trout, and one tank which had about 5 "young?", 4 foot Sturgeon.

We visit fish hatcheries in many of the places we go. It is fun to watch the little fish move in the tanks. They are very, very reactive to shadows.....ours or those of birds which fly low over the tanks. And some times it is fun to buy fish food, or watch others who do, and see the fish swarm for it. If you get a chance to visit a hatchery.....Enjoy! In the meantime.....the Rodericks ramble on.

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