Who We Are
Over a century ago, it was recognized that conservation measures were necessary to maintain good fishing in our public waters. Fishing has probably always been one of America’s leading forms of outdoor recreation. The primary responsibility of Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery is to raise rainbow trout which will help preserve this tradition for present as well as future generations of Americans.
Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery is located off Georgia Hwy 60 in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia just outside the small, rural town of Suches. The hatchery is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service along with other National Fish Hatcheries across the Southeast.
What We Do
Constructed in 1937 by the U.S. Forest Service, the Chattahoochee Forest Hatchery remained under their authority for 23 years. On April 13, 1960, a cooperative agreement was signed which transferred ownership to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Station facilities are currently used to produce one million trout each year. These fish are stocked into tailwaters, streams and lakes of Northern Georgia in cooperation with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Corps of Engineers, Tennessee Valley Authority, and the U.S. Forest Service.
How We Do It
Spawning operations are not conducted at this particular hatchery. However, some Federal Hatcheries hold adult trout (broodstock) which are spawned artificially when the fish become “ripe.” Eggs are taken from the females and fertilized with milt from the males. The fertilized eggs are then shipped here and incubated under controlled conditions.
Some hatcheries are solely involved in producing and developing the various strains of eggs needed for the production of healthy fish. We obtain eggs from locations all over the country.
As the young hatch, usually within 3 to 4 weeks, the young fry are transferred to rearing troughs. During this period, the fish are nourished by their yolk sacs. As this source of food is depleted, the young trout swim up from the bottom of the troughs and are fed specially formulated dry feeds hourly. In approximately 3-4 months, the fish reach the size of fingerlings, about 2-3 inches. They are then transferred to the raceways outside for rearing to stocking size.
In the raceways, fish are fed and cared for until they reach the desired stocking size. It takes approximately 14-16 months to raise a 9 inch fish from the larval (fry) stage.
Feeding activities range from twice a day for the larger fish to 5-6 times daily for the smaller sizes. As the fish gain weight, they are split into empty raceways to give them room to grow.
Throughout the year fish are harvested from the raceways and distributed by truck for stocking in streams, lakes and reservoirs in the Chattahoochee National Forest and various locations in North Georgia, maybe providing source material for another “big fish” story.