Feather River Hatchery to open fish ladder – Chico Enterprise-Record

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OROVILLE — Take a look, chinook salmon!

Fish ladders at the Feather River Fish Hatchery are set to open Sept. 15 for the beginning of spawning season for chinook salmon.

As chinook make their way up the Feather River this time of year, they will travel up the fish ladders into the hatchery spawning operation, and for the first time since COVID lockdowns began, the spawning operation will be viewable to the public.

Hatchery Manager Penny Crawshaw said the fish ladder will be open until July 2023 all the way through steelhead trout spawning season which begins in December.

Aubrey Gonzalez, 4, checks out salmon swimming in the fish ladder at the Salmon Festival on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, in Oroville, California. (Matt Bates/Enterprise-Record file)

“We just leave it open because then starting in May, the spring-run (chinook salmon) return,” Crawshaw said.

Crawshaw said visitors can look for chinook at the viewing window east of Table Mountain Bridge; through underwater viewing windows; traveling up the raceway; and also see the hatchery’s spawning operation.

Crawshaw said workers will begin the fish sorting Sept. 19 at the hatchery. Public viewing of the fish sorting and spawning operation had been closed for two years until that part of the hatchery reopened in April 2022.

The fish sorting area had been closed to the public for the past two years.

The hatchery is also a venue of the Oroville Salmon Festival held on Sept. 24

Crawshaw said the hatchery will have educational booths for kids, a fly fishing pond and a mobile fish exhibit with details of the fish in the river.

The Feather River Hatchery is one of five major Central Valley hatcheries which collectively release a total of 32 million baby salmon — called smolts —  per year, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Tours of the hatchery can be scheduled by contacting 534-2340.

The hatchery is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. seven days a week and is located at 5 Table Mountain Blvd. in Oroville.

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