Have you ever wondered where that monster walleye came from that you caught on your favorite Wisconsin lake? Or what about that first musky that you caught with your grandpa? Well, there’s a good chance that it came from a little hatchery located in Spooner, Wisconsin. Now don’t get us wrong, there is a lot of natural reproduction in Wisconsin lakes, but the Wisconsin DNR definitely helps maintain (and boost) our fish populations with their fish management programs via their fish hatcheries. Spooner, located in the heart of Northwest Wisconsin, is home to the Governor Tommy G. Thompson State Fish Hatchery, known to many as the largest musky hatchery in the world.

This state-of-the-art hatchery was renovated and expanded in 1995; the original hatchery began producing fish in 1914. The hatchery began as a walleye hatchery, but eventually added on northern pike and muskellunge as well. The hatchery has the capacity to produce up to 2.5 million 1.5” to 2.0” walleye fingerlings, 100,000 6” walleye fingerlings, and 100,000 8” to 12” muskellunge and/or northern pike fingerlings. So, why is the Spooner Fish Hatchery known as the largest musky hatchery in the world? In a typical year, more fingerling muskies (8-12”) are produced in Spooner than any other hatchery in the world!

If you’re heading to Northwest Wisconsin, you’ll want to be sure to stop in to the fish hatchery visitor center where you can learn how the fish are raised with hands-on exhibits for all ages. You’ll be in awe of the facility as you view the incubation batteries (jars) and fry tanks from the glass overlook. Depending on when you stop by, you may even be able to hop on a free tour to get a “behind the scenes” look at the process.

For more information on the Governor Tommy G. Thompson Fish Hatchery or to plan your trip to the Spooner and Washburn County area. Happy fishing!