Thompson State Fish Hatchery

Overview: Thompson State Fish Hatchery was established in 1922 and was completely renovated in 1978. This facility can produce a wide range of fish species for both inland and Great Lake waters because of its unique water supply. Coldwater species produced at Thompson include: Chinook salmon and steelhead trout. Walleye fry are the only coolwater specie produced at Thompson. This facility has both indoor and outdoor rearing capabilities. The indoor facility contains 42 tanks for rearing of small fingerlings. The outdoor facility contains 12 raceways for rearing yearling trout. Thompson hatchery had a new interpretive center installed in 2003. The interpretive center provides information on the importance of small tributaries to the Great Lakes, how watersheds work, how a hatchery operates, a short video to watch about hatchery work, as well as artwork and a hands-on computer center which challenges people of all ages to learn about hatcheries and fisheries management.


Location: 944 S State Highway M149, Manistique, MI 49854-8922.

Photo of Thompson Hatchery main buidlings

Photo 1. Thompson State Fish Hatchery.


The video below highlights the work of Thompson and Marquette State Fish Hatcheries and the DNR's fish stocking efforts. Video provided by Brian Whitens, Media Productions. An excerpt from Discovering program on WLUC TV6.


The video below highlights the work of Thompson State Fish Hatchery and the DNR's walleye rearing efforts. Video provided by Brian Whitens, Media Productions. An excerpt from Discovering program on WLUC Tv6.

Driving Directions: From the town of Thompson, turn north off US2 onto state highway M149. The hatchery is 1.5 mile north from this intersection. The hatchery will be on the right side of the road. You will see a large wooden and rock sign inviting you onto the facility. If you are coming from Palms Brook State Park take state highway M149 south for about 6 miles and the hatchery will be on the left side of the road.


Map to Thompson Hatchery


Telephone: 906-341-5587


Hatchery Manager: Jan VanAmberg

Hatchery Biologist: Randy Espinoza

Year Opened: 1922

Photo of Thompson State Fish Hatchery Main Hatchery Building 2 in the 1930s

Photo 2. Thompson State Fish Hatchery Main Hatchery Building 2 as seen in the 1930s.


Renovation History: The hatchery was completely re-built in 1978 upstream of the original hatchery complex. The next major renovation was the upgrading of the effluent treatment pond in 1995.


Photo of effluent pond at the hatchery

Photo 3. Upgraded effluent pond and the back of the outdoor raceway complex at Thompson State Fish Hatchery as seen in 2000.


Thompson State Fish Hatchery's water supply and treatment facilities were significantly enhanced in 2002. A new aeration structure has been built to treat the well water that has low dissolved oxygen concentrations and high hydrogen sulfide concentrations. A series of new coldwater wells have been installed with a capability of pumping 1.3 million gallons per day.


As part of the same construction project, the Great Lakes Ecological Information Center (GLEIC) was developed at Thompson Hatchery. The Center provides new watershed information to the public. The GLEIC consists of a new interpretive area, new exhibits, and a self-guided hatchery and stream interpretive trail. An interactive computer, with hands on learning opportunities concerning our watersheds and other aspects of fish culture, is available in the indoor interpretive room. The focus of the GLEIC is on the connections of the Great Lakes tributary streams to the Great Lakes themselves and how the hatchery operates. This facility completely opened in 2003. This project was primarily funded by the Great Lakes Fishery Trust ( with some additional funding that came from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Hatchery Staffing: Thompson Hatchery is staffed by 1 Area Hatchery Manager (responsible for Marquette and Thompson State Fish Hatcheries), 1 Hatchery Biologist, 3 Fisheries Technicians, 1 Maintenance Mechanic, and 1 Trades Helper for fish culture and maintenance activities.

Production Water: Thompson Hatchery uses a unique combination of an enclosed spring (1,450 gallons per minute flow), shallow cold well water (750 gallons per minute flow) and deep geo-thermally heated well water (800 gallons per minute flow) for rearing fish. Total flow at the hatchery is approximately 3,000 gallons per minute or 4.3 million gallons per day. The temperature of the spring and shallow well is 46 degrees F year around and the temperature of the geo-thermally heated deep well water is 60 degrees F year around, allowing for mixing the two sources to achieve the desired temperature.

Broodstock: No broodstock are maintained at Thompson Hatchery. Broodstock are fish that are held in captivity to obtain eggs and sperm needed to propagate the species in a hatchery setting. The chinook salmon, and steelhead eggs received at Thompson are obtained from wild brood fish in either the Swan or Little Manistee rivers in lower Michigan. Walleye eggs are obtained from wild sources from Lake Michigan. 

Management Role: Thompson State Fish Hatchery plays an integral role in assisting Fishery Managers in managing Michigan fisheries for the future. The fish that Thompson Hatchery produces are an extremely important tool that management biologists can use to stock in lakes and streams to enhance existing fish populations, or to introduce a species into a new environment.

Fisheries Division in Michigan consists of four sections: Program Services, Fisheries Research, Fisheries Management, and Fish Hatcheries. All four Fish Division sections must work together to ensure that Michigan fisheries will endure today and into the future. Thompson is one of six Michigan Hatcheries that are assisting the other sections of Fish Division in ensuring continuance of Michigan's rich fishing history.

Areas of Interest to the Public: Thompson Hatchery has many areas of interest and learning opportunities through interpretive signs and an interpretive computer. This hatchery is not staffed to talk with all visitors but does provide a way for families to self-tour. Visitors are invited to the hatchery during normal hatchery hours to observe the hatchery staff working with the fish in the tanks or raceways. To protect the health of the young fish inside the tank room, observations in this area are restricted to a viewing window. Within the hatchery building, visitors may also like to mingle in the Great Lakes Ecological Information Center (children especially love the hands-on interpretive computer) where you can learn valuable information concerning Michigan watersheds and other aspects of fish culture. Follow the "Yellow Fish Road" to take a self-guided tour around the hatchery. On this tour, you can read informative signs strategically located around the facility. As you tour the facility, you are welcome to walk through the raceway buildings during the months of September through May if they are open. In 2016, the raceway ends were enclosed for better security to the fish and are generally kept closed when employees are not within them. The raceways remain empty between June and the end of August until fish residing within smaller indoor tanks get bigger and need that larger space. Enjoy the 460 foot, gravel packed interpretive trail which winds around Thompson Creek and past the hatchery show pond where you may view massive fish lurking in the depths. In the heat of the summer the children, as well as adults, love to catch some of the abundant grasshoppers and feed them to the fish in the show pond. Fish caught from nearby lakes and streams should not be brought to the hatchery grounds for verification or certification due to disease contamination concerns. Indian Lake State Park and Palms Book State Park (The Big Spring) are both a short drive from the hatchery. A little more than a half hour to the southwest is Fayette Historical State Park.

Hatchery Hours: Hatchery's grounds are open to the public at no charge seven days a week and at all hours, however, the small Visitor Information Center within the hatchery is only open 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily which includes bathrooms. For more information, or to schedule group tours call 906-341-5587 X 201.

Fish Produced and Stocked from Thompson State Fish Hatchery in Fiscal Year 2013 (Oct. 2012 - Sept. 2013)




Average Length (in.)

Number Stocked

Weight Stocked (lbs.)

Brown Trout

Gilchrist Creek

Fall Fingerling




Brown Trout

Gilchrist Creek

Spring Yearling







Species Total 



Chinook Salmon


Spring Fingerling







Species Total 





Fall Fingerling 






Spring Yearling





Species Total 



Walleye Bay de Noc  Fry





Species Total 




Grand Total 



Image of Sport Fish Restoration Logo
Fish Production, Stocking, Management and Research are supported by the Sportfish Restoration Act funding