Hook and Hunting: Platte River State Fish Hatchery Coho Salmon Egg Takes

For just a few weeks in October, the fish technicians at the Platte River Fish Hatchery in Benzie County do egg takes on over 600 coho salmon males and females a day to eventually spawn new coho salmon.

Salmon“It’s a huge operation for us and a busy time of year,” said Fisheries Technician Tara Miller.

About three times a week, Fish Technicians extract eggs and sperm from Coho Salmon for fertilization.

“We’re pretty much just helping sustain our population,” said Miller. “Without the hatchery here, we wouldn’t have enough fish in our lakes or anything for people to go out and catch as many as they want.”

The Coho Salmon counted from the Lower Platte River Weir swim up to the fish hatchery.

“They work their way in, they just swim in on their own into their maturation ponds,” said Miller.

And it’s quite the operation.

“Josh would bring them in with a piece of machinery, they get dumped into a tank of CO2,” said Miller. “That just knocks them out a little but just enough so we can handle them.”

The fish are sorted by male and female and are cleaned.

“They do get dipped into some iodine to sanitize any external bacteria,” Miller said. “They also get wiped just with a paper towel to wipe off any water or extra bacteria.”

That’s when the male’s sperm and the females eggs are collected.

“Their eggs pretty much fall right out on their own, we work them a little bit, they come down into a colander, they get rinsed with some saline solution,” said Miller.

With an average of 2600 eggs per salmon, some will stay at the hatchery while others will go elsewhere

“We will plant 750,000 of our Coho right here at the Platte River because this is our broodstock river, so we want all of those adults coming back here for our egg take operations,” said Miller. “We raise usually 1.6 million in total so all those others will be split up all over Lake Michigan and some into Lake Huron.”

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