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Blue Dog State Fish Hatchery

Management of South Dakota's fishing waters was an early priority. A pike hatchery was built on Lake Kampeska, near Watertown, in 1916. In 1929, a pike hatchery was built on the shores of Pickerel Lake.

The small, outdated Pickerel Lake hatchery could no longer keep pace with the state's needs and was closed after 53 years of service. Pollution and watershed abuse had taken a toll on fish habitat, which had been lost or made less suitable for game fish. This led to an increased need for restocking winterkill lakes and supplementing fingerling stocks in many other waters.

GFP recognized the expanding need for management work with all species and sizes of fish and began planning for all new multi-species hatchery in the late 1960s. A hatchery site investigation pointed to Blue Dog Lake in northeastern South Dakota as a good location. Construction was completed in the fall of 1982, and Blue Dog immediately took over all the state's warm and cool water fish production.


  • Reservations are recommended.
  • Open Monday - Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • If your organization or class is interested in learning more about the hatchery or in reserving a guided tour, contact:
  • Blue Dog Lake State Fish Hatchery
    44437 139A Street
    Waubay, SD 57273












blue dog hatchery complex

The hatchery is located on the northwest corner of Blue Dog Lake, where there is abundant high-quality ground and lake water. These waters are filtered, aerated and heated to provide the hatchery with a variety of water temperature supplies for many different uses for both indoor and outside rearing of fish.

Inside the hatchery are 700 incubation jars for northern pike and walleye eggs, 20 incubators for trout, salmon, and yellow perch eggs, and 30 rearing tanks. The building contains a visitor center and aquaria, informative displays and conference room. Outdoors there are eight raceways and 36 rearing ponds, totaling 53 surface acres of water.

Two hiking trails are also located on the hatchery complex. One trail provides a view of the raceways and rearing ponds, and the other wanders along the lakeshore and through a marsh ecosystem. A boat launch and fishing pier provide fishing access to Blue Dog Lake.

Blue Dog State Fish Hatchery
Aerial view of rearing ponds at Blue Dog Hatchery.Blue Dog Hatchery
Educational displays inside the building; which illustrate the steps involved in the walleye egg
collection process as well as describe many other ecological and fish facts.

Up to 14 species of fish have been reared at the hatchery, with production occurring throughout the year. In the spring, cool-water fish eggs (northern pike, muskellunge, walleye and yellow perch) are collected.

After incubation, the newly hatched fry (fish 1-3 days old) are either stocked directly into public fishing waters or into the hatchery ponds to be reared to fingerling size before released into the lakes.

During the summer, warm-water fish (large and smallmouth bass, channel catfish, and assorted panfish) are raised. Production shifts to raising advanced sized channel catfish and largemouth bass during the fall and winter. Paddlefish and other species have also been grown at the hatchery.

Much of the hatchery's efforts are concentrated on raising walleyes. Typically more than 100 million eggs are collected from Lake Oahe and eastern South Dakota waters.

Hatchery personnel use various culture practices to increase production. Each year, more than 70 million fish are raised at Blue Dog Lake Hatchery for stocking South Dakota waters.

Fish Spawning

Fish spawning and production takes place each spring on selected South Dakota waters. These video highlights the work our biologists do to supplement natural reproduction of walleye and salmon.