The Wells Hatchery is dedicated to the production of steelhead, summer Chinook and Coho for enhancement of natural production and to provide harvest opportunities, white sturgeon for several restoration programs, and trout to provide recreational fishing opportunities in regional waters. Wells Hatchery was constructed by Douglas PUD in 1967 and is adjacent to the Wells Hydroelectric Project. The Wells Hatchery underwent a major modernization project that was completed in 2017.
Currently, annual production at the Wells Fish Hatchery includes 400,000 yearling ESA-listed summer steelhead, 2,000,000 yearling and sub-yearling summer Chinook, 3,000 juvenile white sturgeon, and 20,000 pounds of trout. The programs include steelhead conservation programs for Omak Creek and the Twisp River, three safety-net steelhead programs with releases to the Methow, Okanogan, and Columbia rivers to provide additional steelhead returning adults for harvest and conservation purposes. In addition to the summer Chinook produced for the Douglas PUD programs, an additional 1,000,000 summer Chinook smolts are produced for Southern Resident Orca recovery and to supplement the Pacific Salmon Treaty obligations of the U.S. Government.
The summer Chinook program augments the important upper Columbia population of summer Chinook and provides substantial ocean and in-river harvest opportunities. The white sturgeon program is focused on enhancing the sturgeon population in the Columbia River upstream of Wells Dam, and the trout program provides excellent angling opportunities in more than 30 central Washington lakes.
Adult summer Chinook are collected for broodstock in July, August and September. During these months adult Chinook are held in hatchery holding ponds. Juvenile summer Chinook are released from the hatchery in April and May. Adult steelhead are collected for broodstock in the spring, and yearlings are released in the Twisp, Methow, Okanogan, and Columbia rivers as well as into Omak Creek in April and May. Juvenile sturgeon are released into the Wells Reservoir in late spring.
The Wells Hatchery was built and funded by the Douglas PUD and a portion of the modernization was funded by Grant PUD. Douglas PUD operates the hatchery with funding provided by Douglas PUD and Grant PUD. Grant PUD funds the steelhead programs in the Okanogan Basin and Douglas PUD funds the steelhead programs in the Methow Basin and Columbia River below Wells Dam.
Wells Hatchery Modernization Videos
The Methow Hatchery in Winthrop, Washington, is dedicated to the enhancement of natural production of spring Chinook salmon in the Methow, Twisp and Chewuch watersheds. Douglas County PUD completed construction of the Methow Hatchery in 1992. The Methow Spring Chinook Hatchery facilities include a state-of-the-art spring Chinook production hatchery, adult broodstock collection sites, and three juvenile acclimation ponds. The goal of program is to rebuild the population of naturally spawning spring Chinook salmon in the Methow watershed.
The hatchery building and other structures were designed specifically to match the unique character of the Methow Valley. An Early West theme was adopted with raceways having Conestoga wagon-style covers to protect the fish from the sun, weather and predation by birds.
Broodstock are collected from the upper Methow and Twisp Rivers and are maintained in isolation from each other in holding areas. The program emphasizes naturally spawned broodstock. Separate incubation rooms for eggs taken from each tributary prevent the transfer of pathogens between stocks. In addition, incubating eggs are quarantined and screened for pathogens prior to hatching. Prior to release and downstream migration, the yearling fish are moved to acclimation ponds on the streams where their parents were collected.
The Methow Spring Chinook Hatchery is capable of rearing 550,000 juvenile spring Chinook salmon annually. The current spring Chinook program produces 225,000 juvenile spring Chinook for the Methow basin. The hatchery is operated by Douglas PUD with funding provided by Douglas PUD, Grant PUD, and Chelan PUD.