History of San Joaquin Hatchery

The San Joaquin River has a long history of hatcheries being built on its shores. The current hatchery, opened in 1954, was preceded by:

San Joaquin Experimental Hatchery - 1921

Built due to loss of spawning grounds when the Kerckoff Dam was completed, the first hatchery on the San Joaquin River was located near Friant. Originally intended to be supplied from another experimental hatchery on Willow Creek 35 miles away, the hatchery was shut down due to travel difficulties during winter.

Kings River Hatchery 1928 - 1954

Kings River Hatchery was a success however. Water quality was sufficient to grow fish healthy and quickly. Work continued until floods caused damage during the winter of 1937-38. Repairs were made and work continued until the opening of the current San Joaquin Hatchery.

Friant Bass Hatchery 1932 - 1937

Built with help from the Fresno Sportsmen's Club, this hatchery was rife with problems from the start. Seepage from ponds, fluctuating water supply and frequent breaks in the water supply line were some common issues. Revamped and updated by 1934, the hatchery contributed greatly to the knowledge of bass fish culture. The current San Joaquin Hatchery was constructed on the site of the old Friant Bass Hatchery.

San Joaquin Hatchery 1948 - Current

One of the largest hatcheries in the state, San Joaquin Hatchery sits below the Friant Dam that creates Millerton Lake. For the first two years, experimental work was undertaken to determine if Millerton Lake water could successfully grow fish. In 1953 $750,000 was allocated from the Wildlife Conservation Board to build the hatchery. Dedicated in 1955, the hatchery had 36 ponds, a hatchery building with 104 troughs, and twelve redwood tanks. Also built were numerous outbuildings and employee housing. In 1960 twelve more ponds were built. Together with the new facility at Moccasin Creek built in 1954, many smaller facilities were shut down and operations relocated to the modern facilities.

Black and white photo of San Joaquin Hatchery in 1956 - enlarge in new window
1956 photo of mechanical fish loader

San Joaquin Hatchery main page

Fisheries Branch
1010 Riverside Parkway, West Sacramento, CA 95605 | Fisheries@wildlife.ca.gov