Volunteers spend hours hand-spawning trout at Spokane Hatchery

Fishing brings in $46 million per year in our area. A local place that contributes to those numbers is the Spokane Hatchery, where they produce about 1.4 million rainbow trout each year, with even more eggs going to different places in our state.

For the last five or six years, John Overdorff has volunteered to hand-spawn trout.

“You can see all the little giggling, and laughing, and smiles, and everybody just basically has a good time,” Overdorff said.

It’s all for a good cause, getting more fish out in our lakes. The female rainbow trout volunteers and staff were releasing on Monday are three years old.

All the rainbow trout are given an anesthetic. One station was filling the female rainbow trout with some air and then squeezed the eggs out of them.

“We’ll use about three to five pounds of air pressure to push the eggs out of the egg cavity,” said Kevin Flowers, a fish hatchery specialist.

The male rainbow trout were getting squeezed of their sperm, what is called milt.

“There’s no automation. This is all by hand, we do it all by hand,” Overdorff said.

All the eggs are then hand mixed with milt, then are put into an incubation room.

About 15 days later, an eye should develop. At that point, the eggs are strong enough to be shipped to other places in the state.

“If they were native fish in a stream, gosh, think of the odds,” Overdorff said.

With all the fish produced at the hatchery, it brings millions of dollars into our region, from fishermen buying gear to buying gas to get them to their destination.

“It contributes quite a bit,” Flowers said.

They put fish into more than 70 lakes in the state.

Rainbow trout spawning normally begins in mid-November up until the end of December.