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Governor Tommy G. Thompson State Fish Hatchery

Fishing Wisconsin

Governor Tommy Thompson hatchery

Hatchery information

The Governor Tommy G. Thompson Fish Hatchery is not only the state's largest cool water facility, but it is also the world´s largest musky (muskellunge) hatchery. In many years, the hatchery produces more than half the muskellunge and walleye stocked throughout the state. With 46 rearing ponds, the facility may produce 200,000 to 2.5 million small walleye, 100,000 to 350,000 larger walleye, 35,000 to 60,000 large musky, and an average of 21 million white sucker fry in a typical year.

Hatchery hours

Temporarily closed to visitors. No tours at this time. 

Amenities

Visitor Center
Conference room
Picnic facilities close by
Restrooms

Hatchery Location

951 West Maple St.
Spooner, WI 54801

Enter the hatchery from Highway 70 or enter Spooner Memorial Park from Highway 253/3 on the east

Volunteering and Friends Group

Friends into Spooner Hatchery (exit DNR)

Contact

Call (715) 635-4147 or email Neal Rosenberg

Visiting

Visitor Center

The public is welcome to visit the visitor center year-round where you'll learn about water ecology and fish rearing by viewing the incubators, rearing ponds, and educational exhibits.

Tommy Thompson State Fish Hatchery Visitor Center

Tommy G. Thompson State Fish Hatchery Visitor Center.

The visitor center features an educational 24-foot mural painted by local artist Ruth King, who is also a DNR non-point source pollution specialist. The mural depicts what happens in a lake above and below the surface.

From late April through October, observe the spring egg incubation operations and view the fall pond harvest before hatchery fish are stocked into Wisconsin´s waters. See tour times under “Hatchery Information”.

Spooner Memorial Park

Spooner's Memorial Park is located off Highway 253/63. Picnic facilities are available and the hatchery is only a short walk away. The area below the Spooner Dam is excellent for fishing and is equipped with two handicapped accessible fishing piers.

Educating in local schools

Fish education in local schools.

Between Spooner Memorial Park and the hatchery, three piers offer great fishing and handicapped accessibility on the Yellow River Flowage. A boat launch, parking area and restroom facilities are also available on park property.

Education

In addition to raising fish to stock state waters, the mission of the hatchery includes education. Students from area schools, along with Boy and Girl Scouts, and community groups and tourists regularly visit the hatchery to learn about the process of collecting fish eggs in the wild, which are then taken to hatchery building to be incubated and then transferred outside to 40 one-acre and six half-acre ponds.

History

Original Spooner Hatchery
The original Spooner Hatchery was built in 1913.

Tucked along the banks of the Yellow River Flowage, the Gov. Tommy G. Thompson Hatchery has been raising fish and providing fisheries information to the public for over 100 years.

The original Spooner fish hatchery was built in 1913 and produced 36 million walleye in 1914.

A new hatchery was built in 1939 and 1940. With 29 earthen ponds, it was the largest hatchery in Wisconsin at that time.

Spooner Hatchery in 1939
The Spooner Hatchery was updated in 1939.

On September 15, 1993, $10.5 million was approved by the State Building Commission to renovate and rebuild the Spooner Hatchery. In May of 1994, the groundbreaking ceremony officially started the construction of the new hatchery project.

Natural Resource Board renamed the Spooner Fish Hatchery the “Governor Tommy G. Thompson State Fish Hatchery.” Operated by the DNR, the hatchery provides fish for many state waters, and contributes to the state's fishing heritage.

Governor Tommy G. Thompson Hatchery in 1995
The renamed Tommy G. Thompson State Fish Hatchery was built in 1995. Photo: John Haack

Fish production

Collecting walleye
Spring walleye spawning

Hatchery workers collect, fertilize and transport more than 100 million eggs from the wild to the hatchery during the spring. After the eggs have hatched and grown, they are soon transferred outdoors to one of the forty, one-acre ponds or six, half-acre ponds.

 

White suckers hatching
White sucker eggs hatching

When the fish are ready to be stocked out, the rearing ponds are drawn down so that the fish can be netted or dipped out. The fish are then loaded onto transport trucks, kept alive with the use of compressed oxygen, and hauled to their stocking site.

The majority of walleye produced here are stocked in northern Wisconsin. Musky, and in some years, northern pike, is widely distributed from northern to southern Wisconsin.

Walleye harvest

Learn more about the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative

List by county of where walleye were stocked in 2014