Fish Hatchery Tour Guide
ORGANIZATION: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Please visit the new page to apply.
Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery is one of the largest U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hatcheries in the Nation. We raise a wide variety of fish species including walleye, northern pike, trout, Chinook salmon, paddlefish, muskie, burbot, the endangered pallid sturgeon, and shovelnose sturgeon. The Hatchery is located directly below Lake Sakakawea on the banks of the Missouri River. If you enjoy outdoor recreation, plenty of opportunities exist in this area, including fishing, boating, birding, hiking, camping, hunting...it is all right here!
The Hatchery staff rely on volunteers to conduct informative tours of the Hatchery. Our tour groups range from a few visitors to bus loads of school kids anxious to see and learn about the Hatchery. In addition, we like to involve our volunteers wherever possible with the fish hatchery programs - spawning fish, caring for trout, managing aquariums, mowing lawns, maintaining hiking trails - anything you feel comfortable doing. We try to accommodate the volunteers wishes as much as possible. If you decide to stay with us you will be asked to be available to give tours as scheduled. Group reservations are typically set up in advance so you know when they will be arriving. You can set up your own schedule with the other volunteers to allow you the freedom to enjoy your stay here.
RV Pads - There are two camping pads at the hatchery complete with water, sewer, electric hookups and Wi-Fi. A washer and dryer are located in a trailer house next to the pads for your use. The towns of Riverdale and Pick City are only a couple miles away. We are an hour's drive from Minot and Bismarck.
Fish Production - Early Spring marks the beginning of the cycle of life for many of our native fishes. Northern Pike, a dominant predator species, are the earliest of the many North Dakota fishes to spawn. As the ice begins to recede from the lake’s edge and snowmelt causes increased flows into the river systems, the pike arouse from their period of Winter dormancy and migrate into the flooded shallows to spawn. Frame nets set by fishery biologists capture the adult fish and they are stripped of eggs and milt at the site. The eggs are brought to the Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery where they are incubated in special hatching jars. The newly hatched fry emerge from the eggs in about two weeks. It will be another week before the fry are able to swim or feed. The 'swim-up’ fry spend the last month of their stay at the hatchery in ponds which have an abundance of zooplankton, the food necessary to provide for the rapid growth of the fish. At the month’s end, the northern pike fry, now called fingerlings, are a couple inches long and ready for stocking into area lakes. If the fingerlings are left in the ponds any longer, the zooplankton will no longer satisfy their hunger, and the fish will begin to eat each other!
If you have a taste for the prehistoric, stop by the hatchery in June. The pallid sturgeon, a North Dakota native and an endangered species, are approaching their spawning time. These fish are undoubtably the strangest looking of the North Dakota fish. The fish has a 'sucker’ type mouth, beady eyes, whiskers (or barbels), and a body covered with 'scutes’, a scale like structure that gives them the appearance of having a coat of armor. The fish are a long lived fish, probably more than 50 years, reach lengths of six feet and nearly 100 pounds. Both the paddlefish and the sturgeon have changed little since the Carboniferous to early Triassic times. During the reign of the dinosaurs 200 million years ago, their ancestors were the dominant freshwater fish. Jurassic Park is alive and well at the fish hatchery!
If you’re in the area, northern pike spawning begins in mid-April, followed by walleye and sauger. Sturgeon are spawned in late June. Coldwater species, trout and salmon, are at the station year-around, however if you visit the station in October, you will be able to witness the annual migration of chinook salmon up the hatchery's effluent stream and watch as eggs are collected from these awesome fish.
Location in ND - The Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery is located in central North Dakota, an hour’s drive north of Bismarck on Highway 83.
Start Date - 2024-05-06
End Date - 2024-09-10
Activities include: Conservation Education;Fish/Wildlife;General Assistance;Tour Guide/Interpretation;Visitor Information
Difficulty_Level: Not Difficult
Hosts Housing Amenities: RV/Trailer Pads
About U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
5275 Leesburg Pike, MS: NWRS Visitor Services, Bailey’s Crossroads, VA 22041, US
Working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the premier government agency dedicated to the conservation, protection, and enhancement of fish, wildlife and plants, and their habitats. We are the only agency in the federal government whose primary responsibility is the conservation and management of these important natural resources for the American public.
The agency includes both the National Wildlife Refuge System and the National Fish Hatchery System.
The Service's origins date back to 1871 when Congress established the U.S. Fish Commission to study the decrease in the nation’s food fishes and recommend ways to reverse that decline. (More on our history below.) Today, we are a diverse and largely decentralized organization, employing about 8,000 dedicated professionals working out of facilities across the country.
530 Hatchery RoadRiverdale, ND 58565
July 31, 2023
- People 55+