Lake Mendocino Fish Hatchery

Nature Face to Face


The Coyote Valley Dam Egg Collection Facility at Lake Mendocino is open from December through April to participate in a key stage of the Steelhead Trout's lifecycle. This facility is operated by the California Department of Fish and Game for the US Army Corps of Engineers. Open seven days a week 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, the facility provides an opportunity to see Steelhead Trout in a way you never thought possible.

Every morning, a biology technician with CA Department of Fish and Game climbs into the fish ladder to "crowd" the Steelhead into the lift basket to begin that day's "sort". Each trout is pulled from the lift basket, identified by gender and readiness to spawn, measured and put into one of four sorting ponds.

A Chance to Look a Fish in the Eye

On Thursday mornings, these same technicians also collect and fertilize Steelhead Trout eggs. This is your chance to meet a trout face to face.

Why Isn't it Called A Fish Hatchery?


The Coyote Valley Dam Steelhead Egg Collection Facility collects eggs from the Steelhead Trout but does not hatch them on site. The collected eggs are then fertilized at Lake Mendocino then sent to the the Fish Hatchery at Lake Sonoma to hatch. They are raised for a year at the Lake Sonoma facility and are then brought back to Lake Mendocino and put into one of the eight raceways. They spend about 30 days in the raceways to imprint (learning the smell of the water so they know where to return) then released into the Russian River. These fish will return in three to five years to spawn.


Fish Hatchery Mural

Have you visited the mural at Lake Mendocino? The sixty one foot long by twelve foot mural of Steelhead Trout in their natural habitat was sponsored by the Ukiah Rod and Gun Club and the US Army Corps of Engineers and painted by Mendocino College Art Department students Judy Geer and Sherri Carroll. The mural includes images of Steelhead Trout, some of their favorite foods, as well as several stages of their lifecycle. 

Future plans include painting the entire lifecycle of the Steelhead on the other walls of the Bill Townsend Fish Hatchery and Coyote Dam Fish Egg Collection Facility at Lake Mendocino.



Bill Townsend Fish Hatchery

Each year approximately 50,000 Steelhead Trout eggs are hatched, raised for a year, and released by the Ukiah Rod and Gun Club in the Bill Townsend Fish Hatchery. Operated by a dedicated staff of volunteers, this hatchery can be visited while you are at the Coyote Valley Dam Egg Collection Facility. You and your family will have a chance to see up to three stages of the Steelhead Trout Lifecycle. These include the egg, alevin, and fry stages. While you're there, make sure you take a look at the mural.


To schedule a tour for a class or small group, contact Park Ranger Margot Royal (707) 467-4238