Hatchery - Fact Sheet Peterson State Fish Hatchery

Peterson Hatchery


History - 1880’s to 1980’s: The first recorded development of this site for occurred in the 1880’s. Sometime prior to 1886, Addis E. Hazzard (owner of the drug store in Rushford at the time) created a campground here. Improvements over the years included an artificial lake to support trout, clearing brush, and building a “…commodious log-cabin containing a substantial fireplace and other conveniences”. During the late 1800’s, Camp Hazzard was a favorite spot for many area citizens to rest, relax and socialize during the summer months. Several floods hit the campground over the years and it was finally abandoned in 1915 after a “…devastating flood brought it to ruin.”

Before the flood of 1915, the artificial lake was already supporting young trout. After the flood, it is unclear how the site was used. Then, in the 1940's, four men from the area developed fish rearing ponds and created a bait minnow hatchery. The bait minnow endeavor was not successful and the owners switched to trout production. Trout production continued until 1988 under several different managers and owners. The Minnesota DNR purchased the trout farm in August 1988 to supplement DNR’s trout production capabilities.

History - 1988 to present: In late 1988, the new DNR facility was renamed the Peterson State Fish Hatchery and began producing Atlantic salmon, lake trout, and brook trout for stocking in Minnesota waters. Rainbow and brown trout production started at Peterson in 1989. At that time, the hatchery was comprised mostly of dirt bottom ponds that were open to the sun and accessible to predators, the hatchery piping was antiquated and the springs were unprotected. Few of the facilities were suitable for raising lake trout or other species that need darker, more protected conditions. An extensive, multi-phased, renovation began in 1989 and reached completion in 2002. The goals of the renovation were to create facilities that would:

  1. Effectively produce any species and size of trout or salmon.
  2. Rely on gravity flow from the springs rather than on pumps and electricity.
  3. Be relatively simple and inexpensive to operate.

The renovation met all of those goals. During the renovation years, the hatchery maintained full fish production by completing one segment at a time and adapting to the conditions at hand.

The previously uncovered spring ponds are now covered and protected. Well-oxygenated, 48-degree spring water, moves by gravity flow through pipes from the springs to the fish rearing areas. Valves distribute and control the flow. Hatchery workers measure flow rates by using weirs, flumes, flow meters and pressure sensors. Peterson Hatchery uses round fish rearing tanks almost exclusively. Round tanks promote self-cleaning and uniform water quality, leading to better utilization of the space and water by the fish. Buildings or tent-like domes enclose all of the tanks to provide a dark, undisturbed environment for the fish. Fresh water enters each tank through a spray bar at the outside edge, circles around and around, then drains through a flat screen in the floor at the center of the tank. The motion of the water removes nearly all fish waste from the tank. A standpipe outside the tank controls the water depth in the tank. After overflowing the standpipe, the water flows through pipes to special settling tanks that collect the fish waste before it can escape to the trout stream. Periodic pumping of the settling tanks moves the waste to a “composting pond” where it is broken down by vegetation, snails and other organisms.

Fish Management

In general, fish management tools fall into one of four categories:

Lake surveys and research provide the information used to select appropriate management tools.


Science Informing Management

What types of research help with management decisions for this hatchery?

What other factors are involved with management decisions involving this hatchery?

What types of research or other science activities occur along with the activities in this hatchery?

How does the data collected and/or research conducted at this hatchery inform/affect fisheries managers and fisheries habitats?

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