Hatchery salmon and other 'homing' fish

In elementary school we learned that some fish return to ‘the very stream in which they were hatched’ after spending their adulthood in the ocean. Okay by whatever means they find the stream, swim up it, and the survivors spawn. But what about hatchery fish? I assume they find their way back to the stream in which they were released. But what happens when they get to the release point? Do they go, ‘Heeeey… Wait a minute. I know I’m on the right track, but I can’t seem to find where I was hatched.’ and swim around aimlessly until they die? Or do they spawn right there?

Salmon are released right at the hatchery. They are raised in the same water so they come right back to the hatchery. Trout are planted all over because they don’t migrate (except for steelhead and sea-run cutthroats).

If you want to see the results, in the Fall, Chum salmon will be schooling up at Hoodsport, on Hood Canal. The hatchery west of Levenworth on the Wenatchee has an impressive run of Kings and I believe Coho.

If you just want to watch the fish, check out the viewing windows in the fish ladder at the Locks, or just go to the Renton Library. There is a walkway across the river and you can watch the Reds and Chums.

According to the edumacational films at the umpteen hatcheries around here the answer is: “Yes, the hatchery fish will return to the hatchery”.

If you’re ever in the Hood River area, the Little White Salmon Fish Hatchery has a nice little setup and would be worth a quick stopover.

They harvest/raise/release then trap the returning salmon to continue the cycle. I was there a few weeks ago and the river was FULL of fish (steelhead) milling about, pondering the fish ladder.

Nearby is the Bonneville Fish Hatchery (right below the dam) where they raise chinook, coho, rainbows, steelhead and STURGEON, which are the coolest fish ever.