The Big Springs Trout Hatchery, located just under 10 kms southeast of the small township of Lewistown, describes itself as the largest coldwater production hatchery in Montana.
It’s capable of producing up to two million fish a year which go out to about 100 different waters throughout the state.
Species of trout and salmon raised at the facility vary year to year but can include different strains of rainbow, Yellowstone cutthroat, grayling, brown trout, chinook salmon and even the land-locked Kokanee salmon.
But no fish are spawned at the hatchery. Instead, fertilized eggs are received from other Montana state and federal hatcheries and from some wild sources, for development at the hatchery for stocking purposes.
Hatchery manager Jim Drissel confirmed though that the operation and its park setting have an open-door policy that wins strong support from the town leaders, families and residents.
The hatchery consists of indoor raceways, outdoor raceways and an outdoor display pond.