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Frequently Asked Questions
Call 707-467- 4200
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
1160 Lake Mendocino Drive
Ukiah, California 95482
The Coyote Valley Fish Facility at Lake Mendocino is open from January through April to facilitate a key stage of the steelhead trout's lifecycle, spawning. This facility is operated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Open seven days a week 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., the facility provides an opportunity to see steelhead trout up close and learn about their lifecycle, fostering a deeper understanding for these amazing fish and the river ecosystem where they live.
Every morning around 9:30 am, a biology technician with California Department of Fish and Wildlife 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
Once a week, these same technicians collect and fertilize steelhead trout eggs. Spawning takes place on a weekday, though the specific day may vary from year to year. For the most up-to-date information, please visit or call 707-467-4200.
Why Isn't it Called A Fish Hatchery?
The Coyote Valley Fish Facility collects eggs from the steelhead trout but does not hatch them on site. The collected eggs are fertilized at Lake Mendocino then sent to the Don Clausen Fish Hatchery at Lake Sonoma to hatch. They are raised for a year at Lake Sonoma and are then brought back to Lake Mendocino and put into one of the eight raceways. They spend about 30 days in the raceways imprinting -- learning the smell of the water so they know where to return. Finally, they are released into the Russian River. If they are lucky, these fish will return in three to five years to spawn.
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 Valley Fish and Wildlife Club and the U.S. 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.
Bill Townsend Fish Hatchery
Each year steelhead trout eggs are hatched, raised, and released by the Ukiah Valley Fish and Wildlife 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 Fish 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.
Park Rangers with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers give school tours to more than 500 local elementary students annually. These educational tours are a fantastic way for your class to learn about steelhead trout, the Russian River, and more! For more information about tours please call 707-467-4200.