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Spawning operations underway at Ten Sleep Fish Hatchery

The month of February marks the beginning of a busy time for Ten Sleep Fish Hatchery. The Wyoming Game and Fish facility located on the west slope of the Bighorn Mountains near Ten Sleep is home to one of only two captive broodstocks of Yellowstone cutthroat trout in the country. In late winter each year, spawning operations for this broodstock begin.

Once a week over a two-month time frame, crews sort fish and select 3 and 4-year-olds that are ready to spawn. Eggs are then collected from female fish and milt from male fish. By early spring, approximately 1,100 adult female Yellowstone cutthroat trout will be spawned.

Bart Burningham, superintendent of Ten Sleep Fish Hatchery said the Yellowstone cutthroat trout broodstock is capable of producing 960,000 eyed eggs. The term "eyed eggs" refers to the developmental stage of a fertilized egg when two characteristic dark spots, the trout's eyes, are visible.

"Eyed eggs will be shipped to different hatcheries across the U.S. and to Clarks Fork Hatchery in Wyoming near Clark where fish will be raised and stocked within our state," Burningham said.

Once four-year-old fish are spawned at Ten Sleep Hatchery, they are stocked in local Big Horn Basin waters. In March and April, these 16-20 inch fish weighing 2-3 pounds will be stocked in Beck Lake in Cody, Water Plant Pond in Basin and Airport Pond in Worland for anglers to enjoy.