Whitlock Bay Salmon Spawning Station
Lake Oahe is one of few North American lakes where anglers can find Chinook salmon. The Whitlock Bay Salmon Spawning Station is located along the shore of Lake Oahe at Whitlock Bay, 18 miles west of Gettysburg. It has a fish ladder, four concrete holding ponds, crowding raceways, a spawning building and a water supply system. Water is pumped from the bay into the holding ponds and flows down the fish ladder back into the bay.
No suitable habitat exists in the lake for Chinook salmon to reproduce naturally. This facility allows for the completion of their life cycle and helps to ensure future populations of these fish. Lake Oahe is the only place in South Dakota, and one of the few sites in North America, where you can hook and land Chinook salmon.
- The station is open the month of October.
- Guided tours are available 9 a.m. - 11 a.m. most days during that time.
- If your organization or class is interested in learning more about the hatchery or in reserving a guided tour, contact the hatchery at 605.765.9411 when the station is in operation and 605.223.7681 at other times.
- Whitlock Bay State Fish Hatchery
Gettysburg, SD 57442
Phone: 605.765.9411 or 605.223.7681
Each fall, Chinook salmon migrate to Whitlock Bay to begin their spawning process. The fish swim up the ladders at the facility and
then enter the concrete holding ponds. They are later moved into
the building, where artificial spawning occurs.
Spawning involves the collection of eggs and sperm. Fish that are ripe (ready to lay eggs) are euthanized. These salmon would soon die as part of their natural life and reproduction cycle. Female salmon are injected with air to expel the eggs. Milt (sperm) is extracted from male salmon and added to the eggs for fertilization. The fertilized eggs are washed and placed into storage containers. The fertilized eggs are taken to state fish hatcheries, where the resulting hatchery-raised fish are stocked back into Lake Oahe to grow and thrive in this large, deep, cold body of water.
Fish are also placed in containers, picked up by a fish processing company, and finally processed and sold for human consumption. Between 250,000 and one million Chinook salmon eggs are collected, resulting in approximately 250,000 young salmon stocked into Lake Oahe the following year.