Travel – Bonneville Fish Hatchery – Cascade Locks, Oregon

Do I have a big tail to share with you !!

There is a must see place, for you to go to, in Oregon.

How did you know I was going to say, “Go see the Bonneville Fish Hatchery”?

The address is 70543 NE Herman Loop, Cascade Locks, Oregon USA.

It is just off of Highway 84, (I-84), exit 40. It is about 40 miles East of Portland Oregon.

Some History

Bonneville Fish Hatchery was constructed in 1909. In 1957 it was remodeled and expanded. It became part of a program to enhance declining fish runs in the Columbia River Basin.

The construction of the John Day Dam, caused a decrease in fish, so the hatchery was renovated in 1974, (by the Army Corps of Engineers), to help turn that around.

Today, the Bonneville Fish Hatchery is Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife’s largest fish hatchery.

Hatchery tanks with net coverings, (protecting the young fish from predation).

The hatchery has thousands of visitors, daily. People from all over the world, come to see it. In an average year, one million visitors, walk the grounds, enjoying the trees, flowers, birds, ponds and fish.

At the time of this writing, the grounds are open all year round, seven days a week, from 7:30 AM until dusk, (with ample parking).

When I went there, there was no charge to enter. Hopefully, that is still the case when you go.

Scenery, Garden Beauty and Animal Life

When you arrive, first you will see beautiful scenery, (mountains and trees).

I wonder what that hill is called, (or is it a mountain).

Some of the trees are very tall.

An interesting looking tree, from the ground up.

They have flowering bushes and trees.

A camellia bush, or is it a tree?

The flowers on it are beautiful.

So very pretty.

There are water features to see.

Is this water feature natural or man made?

This one looks man made.

Do you see the fence. Now look at the water around it. What an unusual water feature.

This place is a must see for people who love the beauty of a well cared for garden.

A white camellia bush? Tree?.

These flowers are beautiful too. Don’t you agree?

They look so perfect.

You will see lots of birds, like this pair of low flying ducks.

Quick, duck !!

They would land in the hatchery tank, if it wasn’t for the protective netting that covers the tank.

The ducks with the green heads are male Mallard ducks.

A beautiful wild duck.

Mallard ducks are the most common breeding and wintering ducks in Oregon.

This duck, sitting near a manmade waterfall.

Females are mottled brown with a dark brown stripe through each eye.

Immature males resemble females. Mature males have an emerald green hood before the breeding season is over.

It is interesting to know that after breeding season, between June and September, the males develop duller, eclipse plumage, resembling hens until mid September.

Fish Hatchery, Tanks Everywhere

You will see huge hatchery tanks. The tanks are full of….. yep….. you guessed it FISH. The fish are at various stages of their life, (up to adults).

My husband, walking alongside one of the hatchery tanks.

The hatchery raises Chinook Salmon, Coho Salmon and Steelhead Salmon.

Nets are placed over the tanks. The growing fish, need to be protected from predators, (like birds).

I don’t know how many fish are held in each tank, (seems like thousands in this tank).

Can you see the fish in this tank?

I’m sure the fish count decreases as the size of the fish increase.

The fish seem to love, to practice jumping the arch seen in the bottom left of this picture, (the little fish looks like it has a white belly and a black back and head).

Do you see the little fish in the bottom left of this picture. Many of them try jumping. I don’t know if they jump because it is part of their nature, or just cuz it’s fun.

He jumped out of the water, just so I could take a picture of him.

Rainbow Trout

There are rainbow trout in the ponds, but the hatchery doesn’t raise them for release. They are simply there for the enjoyment of visitors.

There are machines from which you can purchase some fish pellets to feed to the pond trout, (bring some quarters).

I saw more pellets, falling out of peoples hands, so you might also bring a small disposable container, (like a dixie cup), for the pellet dispenser. Nothing seems to go to waste though, because the birds gobble up any pellets that hit the ground.

At least 5 rainbow trout in this picture.

The money collected from feeding the fish, goes to help keep the grounds beautiful.

A Rainbow Trout, seen through the viewing window.

At this point, you have seen little fish, medium fish and large fish. Now, you will see the huge fish. When you go, you have got to go see the sturgeon!!!!

But first, before we go there… Here is a funny story from 2008

More Sturgeon than You’ll Ever See in One Place

A serious problem was seen below the spillway of the Bonneville Dam, during a sonar survey, (February of 2008). There was what looked like a gigantic pile of rubble there.

An Army dive team was called to check it out. They sent down a remotely operated submersible to see what the pile of rubble consisted of. Turned out, it wasn’t rubble. It was white sturgeon. They were just hanging out together at a depth of 40 – 50 feet, (12.2 – 15.2 meters). Some of the fish in the pile were 14 feet or more, long, (4.27 meters).

A conservative estimate at the time, said there were around 60,000 white sturgeon, just chillin there. I say chillin, because the water temperature, at that time where they were, was 34° – 35°F, (1.1° – 1.6°C).

You really should take a moment and read the story, as reported from the Oregonian newspaper, “Sturgeons” strange behavior at Bonneville Dam surprises biologists“. It’s worth the read.

Herman and the Sturgeons, (no, not a 60s rock band)

That’s a sturgeon in this pond!!!! He is just one of many swimming here.

This in not the biggest sturgeon in the pond, but this helps you get an idea of size, (compared to the hands of the person on the sturgeon’s right).

Sturgeon have been around for about 200 million years. They are considered a primitive form of fish. They are part of the family acipenseridae. The scientific name for white sturgeon is Acipenser Transmontanus, which means, “fish on the other side of the mountains”.

Sturgeon haven’t changed much in 200 million years. They do not have scales. They do have protrusions that run laterally along their bodies. The protrusions are called scutes. They have 5 rows of them. Scutes can be very sharp, especially when they are young sturgeon.

Do you see the bony structures, along this animal’s body?

Sturgeon have an elongated snout with sensory holes, for prey detection. They do not have teeth. They have a protrusible mouth and whisker-like barbells. Once they have detected their prey, (for example; in the silt of the bottom of a waterway), they use that mouth to suck the prey up.

Click the link here, if you would like to read more about sturgeon snoots and scutes.

The sturgeon seem to love, looking at the people.

This sturgeon, was seen by me, through the viewing wall, (or was I seen by him)?

The star at the Bonneville Fish Hatchery is Herman. Herman is a white sturgeon. He is 79 years old, (at the time of this writing). According to everything I’ve read, the oldest sturgeon on record was 103 years old, (when it was captured).

Herman lives in a special pond that has an underwater viewing area. If you go there, you should be able to see Herman, up close as he swims by.

I do not know if Herman was one of the sturgeons I photographed, but, they are all beautiful.

Isn’t that a pretty face.

“Here’s looking at you, sweetheart””.

White sturgeon are the largest freshwater fish in North America, reaching over 20 feet long, (6.10 meters). In 2019, Herman was reported to be 11 feet long, (3.25 meters), and he weighed 500 pounds, (227 kg). The heaviest white sturgeon ever caught was 1500 pounds, (680 kilograms). That was in 1898.

Herman was a fixture at the Oregon State Fair, for almost 50 years, but, in the mid 80’s, he was moved to the Bonneville Fish Hatchery, where he currently resides.

The day I went to see Herman. There was a sturgeon that fell in love with me.

He followed me, as I moved around the pond. He came up as close as he could get to the edge of the pond, (where I stood, looking down at him). Then, he popped his beautiful little head out of the water, to get a better look at me.

He lifted his head, part way out of the water to say, “Hi there, are you married”?

Well, by the end of my visit to the Bonneville Fish Hatchery, (I have to admit), I fell in love with this beautiful fish. Please, don’t tell my husband.

I don’t know if he liked my long hair, or the color of my clothing that day. I’m just hoping he didn’t think I looked like a great snack.

If you are considering visiting Oregon, (or if you are already here in Oregon), I’d suggest you stop by and check out the world famous Bonneville Fish Hatchery.

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