Coyote Valley Fish Facility operates as an egg taking station and an imprinting facility. The sorting of adult return steelhead occurs daily at 10:00 a.m. near the fish ladder January - mid-April. Spawning occurs at 9:00 a.m. on Thursdays January - mid-April. Spawning at CVFF offers the visitor a unique opportunity to see the steelhead spawning up close.
Location: 1229 Lake Mendocino Drive, Ukiah, CA 95482
Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., January - April
Contact: (707) 433-6325 (Warm Springs Hatchery). To schedule a tour for a class or small group, contact the US Army Corps of Engineer (USACE) Lake Mendocino office at (707) 467-4238.
Directions: Coyote Valley Fish Facility (CVFF) is located in Mendocino County approximately one mile East of Highway 101 in Ukiah, CA, directly below the Coyote Dam and Lake Mendocino. From Highway 101, take the Lake Mendocino Drive Exit and head East (0.2 miles). Take a left turn on North State Street (.01 miles) and then take a right on to Lake Mendocino Drive. Proceed East approximately one mile and the hatchery will be located on the right, right below the dam. MAP
Coyote Valley Fish Facility, formerly known as the Coyote Valley Dam Fish Hatchery or the Lake Mendocino Fish Hatchery, first opened its fish ladder November 30, 1992. It was constructed by the USACE to offset the loss of upstream spawning and rearing grounds due to the construction of the Coyote Dam which forms Lake Mendocino on the East Branch of the Russian River. Coyote Valley Fish Facility is 100% funded by the USACE, is maintained and operated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and supported by volunteers from the Ukiah Rod and Gun Club.
The fish ladder and trap open at the beginning of December, trapping an average of 2,000-4,000 adult steelhead annually. Depending on the weather, the first adult returning steelhead typically arrive in mid to late December. The steelhead enter the facility by swimming upstream through a fish ladder and enter the facility. The trout are then crowded with a finger weir into a lift basket. Each fish is then removed from the basket, measured, gender checked and assessed for sexual maturity. They are then placed into one of four holding ponds based on degree of sexual maturation. The fish are held in these ponds until the required numbers of eggs are taken for the week. The surplus adults are then released back into the Russian River or into selected tributaries of the Russian River as part of an adult steelhead relocation program. Fertilized eggs are transported to Warm Springs Hatchery (WSH) in Sonoma County, where they are incubated, hatched and raised to a yearling stage. At this point in their lifecycle, the yearling steelhead are then transported back to CVFF for the process of imprinting. The imprinting process serves to orient fish to their natal waters. This occurs during the last 30 days while yearling steelhead are held at CVFF after which the fish are released into the East Branch of the Russian River to begin their downstream migration to the Pacific Ocean.
From the beginning of CVFF’s operation, an annual compensation goal of 4,000 returning adult steelhead was set. To achieve this goal, hatchery personnel rear approximately 200,000 yearling steelhead for release into the East Branch of the Russian River.
The Bill Townsend Conservation Fish Hatchery (BTCFH) was built in 1996 and is also located on the CVFF grounds. The BTCFH is operated by a dedicated staff of Ukiah Rod and Gun Club volunteers. The main goal of the club is the restoration of local streams and rivers for fish and wildlife habitat.
Each year CVFF personnel, with the help of Ukiah Rod and Gun Club volunteers, spawn six female Steelhead to provide approximately 30,000 steelhead eggs for the BTCFH to incubate, hatch and raise. BTCFH can be visited while you are at the Coyote Valley Fish Facility. Visitors will have a chance to see up to three stages of the steelhead lifecycle which includes the egg, alevin and fry stages. Once the fry reach 500 fish per pound in size, they are transported to WSH where they will be raised to the yearling size. At this point they are then transported back to CVFF for imprinting and release into the East Branch of the Russian River.
Make sure to take a look at the beautiful one of a kind mural of steelhead in their natural habitat!