Big Creek Hatchery Visitors' Guide

Big Creek Hatchery began operation in 1941. It was refurbished in 1957 under the Mitchell Act as part of the Columbia River Fisheries Development Program – a program to enhance declining fish runs in the Columbia River Basin. The facility is used for adult collection, egg incubation and rearing of winter steelhead, fall Chinook, and coho.

Willamette Hatchery

Best time to visit: September - October

Hours of operation: 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. daily

Fish raised: Tule fall Chinook, spring Chinook, chum salmon, coho salmon, and winter steelhead

What to see and do: Fish rearing and pond viewing are available daily. Visitors can view egg incubation September 18 – February 15; adult salmon September 1 – November 15; salmon spawning September 18 – November 15; and adult steelhead spawning December 20 - February 15. Call the hatchery for specific spawning dates. The hatchery has interpretive signs and group tours available. Big Creek is a popular salmon and steelhead angling stream.

Feeding fish
Feeding fish at Big Creek Hatchery


  • Camp host position can be applied for through our volunteer host program. Big Creek offers a camp host site mainly from May through September. Hosts work 20 hours per week maintaining grounds, buildings, and offering tours. An RV hookup spot is available with washer / dryer and refrigerator available. 
  • Salmon and Steelhead fishing is available below the hatchery throughout the year, except for the month of September is closed to angling. 
  • Big Creek is handicap accessible
  • A kiosk with a picnic table is available.
  • Visitor restrooms are available.

Osprey, Photo by Blaine Fanning

Wildlife viewing opportunities:

  • Certain birds are available to see year-round such as songbirds, wading birds, waterfowl, eagles, and ospreys.
  • Adult and juvenile fish can be viewed depending on the time of year as mentioned above. 

Nearby: Fort Stevens State Park, four miles west of Astoria, offers camping, beachcombing, freshwater lake swimming, bicycle and hiking trails, wildlife viewing, and historic shipwreck and military areas.

Directions: Big Creek Hatchery is located south of Knappa (15 miles east of Astoria), two miles off Hwy. 30. Turn left off Hillcrest Loop Road.

Address and Phone:
Big Creek Hatchery
92892 Ritter Road
Astoria, OR 97103
(503) 458-6512