We feel it is very important to understand the life cycle of the anadromous species of fish if we are to assist in the preservation of their species.

     Our reference in this article is to Fall Chinook salmon. Anadromous fish are by definition born in fresh water, make their way to the sea where they reach full maturity and then return to their place of birth to spawn and die.

     The salmon throughout its development faces many hazards from predators, human and otherwise. It often travels thousands of miles between its birth and when it returns to its birthplace to spawn.

     Classically the female prepares a bed in the sand and gravel to lay her eggs. The male fertilizes the eggs and then the female flipping her tail back and forth covers them with sand and gravel.

     After participating in the spawning process, both the male and female die from the exhaustion of their adrenal gland system. Their death provides nutrients in the stream for other forms of life and the cycle continues.


     The major goal of the Indian Creek Hatchery is to supplement the natural production of lower Rogue River Fall Chinook salmon. The lower Rogue stock was dangerously low during the 1980's but has shown dramatic improvement over the past several years. It is believed that habitat improvement and hatchery supplementation can help maintain a healthy stock especially in years of drought or poor ocean conditions.

     Each fall, adult salmon return to the hatchery holding pen or are seined from lower Rogue tributaries. When the female salmon are "ripe" the eggs are taken and placed into sterile buckets where they are fertilized with the sperm from several males. The fertilized eggs are placed in specially built trays where time and temperature determine hatching.

     When the eggs hatch and “button up”, the tiny fry are placed outside in the raceways. They are fed continuously during daylight hours with the aid of automated feeders and watched carefully for signs of distress or disease. The temperature and oxygen content of the water are tested daily. The raceways are enclosed to eliminate predators feasting on the young fish.

     When the fish reach "smolting stage", determined by appearance, weight and readiness to go to sea, they are released into the Rogue River.