Salmonids are a family of fish famous for their miraculous migration patterns: from freshwater streams out to the ocean depths and back upstream again, to spawn and die where it all began. Glimpse these revered creatures up close at Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery, which raises steelhead trout and Chinook salmon to supplement sport fishing stocks in the Smith River.
Strict regulations protect the Smith’s wild stock from overfishing. Licensed anglers may keep five wild Chinook per year, while it’s illegal to keep any wild steelhead. Hatchery fish, on the other hand, are always fair game, distinguishable from the wild fish by a clipped adipose fin.
The Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery welcomes visitors during regular business hours and is situated just west of the highway behind the Smith River Post Office on 255 North Fred Haight Drive. Tours are free, though donations to the non-profit enterprise are accepted.
And watch for the annual mid-winter fishing derby that helps raise funds for the hatchery.