By Janice Eck
Photos by Janice Eck
(Victorville)– If you’ve fished in California public waters, you’ve probably caught trout raised in the Mojave River Fish Hatchery located in Victorville, CA. Tucked behind the buildings of Victor Valley College’s Construction Technology, Electronics and Automotive departments, lays a hidden mini oasis complete with greenery, wildlife, and manmade ponds of water filled with Rainbow Trout. This is not where the trout are spawned, but as a broodstock hatchery, the trout spend much of their early life stages at Mojave and then get transported to waters across Southern California and quite possibly all across the state depending on need.
All of Mojave’s trout come from Mount Shasta Hatchery where they are spawned and held for 35-40 days in incubation trays until they are strong eyed – when both eyes have developed and are no longer embryos. They are brought to Mojave when they’re ready for warmer waters, which is 60 degrees on average. Greg Williams, manager of Filmore and Mojave Hatchery Fish Production took a few minutes out of his busy day to speak with High Desert Daily about Mojave, “This is a broodstock hatchery. Our whole goal is to get these eggs grown to a half-pound and stock them in about 75-100 lakes between Filmore and Mojave hatcheries.”
Mojave has the capability to produce 550,000 pounds of trout a year, but have scaled back quite a bit because of the drought. About 10,000 pounds go to Mojave Narrows and over 30,000 pounds go to Silverwood. During a 6-month period, they could haul anywhere between 8,000 to 15,000 pounds of trout.
Most of the Rainbow Trout produced by California Fish & Wildlife are triploids – that is, they are neither male nor female to prevent breeding. Williams explains why breeding is discouraged, “The whole purpose is a lot of water and streams run to the ocean and back. There’s a lot of cross-breeding going on, so we want to make sure that doesn’t happen anymore. We want to create a more sterile environment.” Male and female trout are still made for reproduction.
Since Mojave is part of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, they are funded by fishing and license fees; therefore, stock only state-controlled waters, such as Silverwood and Mojave Narrows, as already mentioned. Based on the funding received, Williams works with his biologists to determine how many pounds of trout will go to which waters.
Mojave is open to the public and welcomes visitors between 7:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., 7 days a week. Admission is free and there are always personnel on premises willing to educate visitors and give tours. For a quarter, guests could get a handful of fish food and create a feeding frenzy among the trout as they jump and race for each pellet. The settling pools behind the ponds is a place where raccoons and even porcupines may venture to. Mojave River Fish Hatchery is located about a half-mile off of Bear Valley Road on Mojave Fish Hatchery Road.