Mammoth Spring National Fish Hatchery
Southeast Region
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About Us

Mission

Credit: USFWS

Credit: USFWS

    Who We Are

    • Mammoth Spring National Fish Hatchery (NFH), operated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, has been producing fish for public use and restoration for over a century. Established in 1903, the hatchery is one of the oldest in the nation. The hatchery is located in Mammoth Spring, Arkansas, just across from the Missouri border about 65 miles northwest of Jonesboro, Arkansas. It was built in the Ozark foothills in northeast Arkansas because of the availability of reliable, high quality, gravity-flow water from the world’s tenth largest spring. Also importantly, the hatchery was located with easy access to the railroad. With its unique pond and raceway rearing system, the hatchery has the capability to produce aide variety of fish another aquatic species.
     

What We Do

    • This is a National Fish Hatchery which is supported by your Federal tax dollars. Fish raised on Federal hatcheries are stocked in public waters to support Federal fishery responsibilities mandated by law. These include fish for restoration where, for example, man-made dams have altered a stream’s natural reproductive capability; or to restore threatened or endangered populations. Fish are also used to support recreational fishing programs in Federal and state waters.
     

How We Do It

    • This hatchery is fortunate to have excellent water supplied by Mammoth Spring. Water from the spring is a constant 58 degrees with naturally high dissolved oxygen content and a pH of about 7, making it ideal for fish culture. The hatchery uses only a small fraction of the spring’s flow, eventually returning the water to Spring River. Mammoth Spring NFH produces fish to provide recreational fishing opportunities. In a pond fish hatchery like Mammoth Spring NFH, adult broodfish such as bass and bluegill are allowed to spawn naturally in specially prepared ponds. Other fish, such as striped bass, are spawned in tanks after being given hormone. The eggs are then transferred to incubator jars.
     
    • Eggs of other fish such as walleye and paddlefish are collected from adult fish netted in the wild (which are then released) and brought back to the hatchery for hatching and rearing. The hatching of most species occurs in the early spring. After hatching, the fry are collected using a small seine and moved to rearing ponds or raceways for grow out. The rearing ponds are fertilized to encourage the growth of tiny microorganisms on which the young fry feed until they reach fingerling size of about one to three inches. The fish may be stocked at this pointer held for rearing to a larger size. Some of the larger fish are fed specially prepared diets made on station and supplemented with forage fish such as minnows or goldfish. The ponds where the fish are reared are specially constructed with a concrete catch basin or “kettle” in front of the drain. When the fish are ready to be transferred, various size screens can be inserted in the kettle to allow the water, but not the fish, to drain out. The fish collect here and can be removed with nets when the pond is nearly empty. Fish are weighed and counted and then loaded onto specially designed distribution trucks with oxygen for transport to stocking sites.

Staff

Mammoth Spring NFH Staff Directory
Name Position Email Address
Richard Shelton Hatchery Manager richard_shelton@fws.gov

 

 

 

 

 

About our Fish

Current programs at Mammoth Spring NFH

    • Restoration of interjurisdictional fishes including paddlefish and lake sturgeon -- Biologists here are developing spawning and rearing techniques for these unusual fishes. Because their ranges transcend local, state, and sometimes national boundaries, concern for their wellbeing is a major activity for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Conservation measures are necessary in order to maintain healthy populations of these fish in our public waters. Mammoth Spring NFH produces 40,000 paddlefish and 2,500 sturgeon each year.
     
    • Recovery of endangered and threatened species -- This hatchery is developing spawning and rearing techniques for the endangered pallid sturgeon, Ozark hellbender salamander, and the alligator snapping turtle. In cooperation with Arkansas State University, the hatchery also assists in nationwide efforts to protect and restore both endangered and non-endangered mussel populations. They accomplish this by developing culture techniques, investigating life histories, and providing a refuge for imperiled populations. Around 5,000 freshwater mussels are produced for research and supplemental stocking by this hatchery each year.
     
    • Restoration of Gulf Coast striped bass populations -- Mammoth Spring NFH maintains the only captive spawning population of Gulf Coast striped bass in the world. Populations of Gulf Coast striped bass (also known as stripers or rockfish) began to decline around fifty years ago for reasons such as habitat loss, water pollution and over-fishing. Two million Gulf Coast striped bass are produced by this hatchery to insure greater numbers of the fish in native habitats.
     
    • Restoration stocking in the White River drainage -- This hatchery produces walleye and smallmouth bass for restoration stocking in the White River Basin, which has been impacted by flooding of spawning habitat due to Federal water development projects (dams) on the White River and tributaries. 400,000 walleye and 100,000 smallmouth bass are produced by Mammoth Spring NFH every year.
     
    • Fishery management and stocking recreational fish on National Wildlife Refuges -- Mammoth Spring NFH provides fish for recreational fishing programs on National Wildlife Refuges, including approximately 100,000 largemouth bass and/or bluegill as needed for Refuge programs.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I purchase a fishing license?

    • To review Arkansas Fishing Regulations and to purchase a license, please contact the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission at (800) 364-GAME or visit them online at http://www.agfc.com/fishing/.
    • The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service does not issue fishing licenses.

Why do we need federal hatcheries and who pays for them?

    • This is a national fish hatchery which is supported by tax dollars. Fish raised on Federal hatcheries are stocked in public waters to support Federal fishery responsibilities mandated by law. These include fish for restoration where, for example, man-made dams have altered a stream’s natural reproductive capability; or to restore threatened or endangered populations. Fish are also used to support recreational fishing programs in Federal and state waters.

Where does the hatchery get its water?

    • The heart of any hatchery is its water supply. This hatchery is blessed with unusually excellent water supplied byte world’s seventh largest spring. Water from the spring is a constant 58 degrees with a naturally high dissolved oxygen content and a pH of about 7, making it ideal for fish culture. The hatchery uses only a small fraction of the spring’s flow, eventually returning the water to Spring River.

Where and how do you hatch the fish?

    • In a pond-fish hatchery like Mammoth Spring, adult broodfish such as bass and bluegill are allowed to spawn naturally in specially prepared ponds. Other fish, such as striped bass, are spawned in tanks after being given a hormone and the eggs are then transferred to incubator jars. After hatching, the fry are collected using a small seine and transferred to rearing ponds or raceways for growout. The rearing ponds are fertilized to encourage the growth of tiny microorganisms called zooplankton on which the young fry feed until they reach fingerling size of about one to three inches. The fish may be stocked at this point or held for rearing to a larger size. Some of the larger fish are fed specially prepared diets made on station and supplemented with forage fish such as minnows or goldfish. Eggs of other fish such as walleye and paddlefish are collected from adult fish netted in the wild (which are then released) and brought back to the hatchery for hatching and rearing. The hatching of most species occurs in the early spring.

 

Economic Impact

Local Impact

    • Warmwater fish stocked for recreational fishing, such as smallmouth bass, striped bass and walleye, have a tremendous economic impact. For every tax dollar spent for recreational fish production at Mammoth Spring NFH, $12 of net economic value is created. This amounts to a total economic output of more than $1.5 million every year! This economic stimulus comes from taxes generated, jobs created, and retail sales (like gas, food, lodging, rods and reels, and bait and tackle), all of which are created because of the recreational fish stocked out of Mammoth Spring NFH. The amount of taxpayer dollars used to support Mammoth Spring NFH’s yearly recreational fish production is far less than the taxes it generates! This activity creates 17 jobs with $380,000 in salary and wages earned. Mammoth Spring NFH is one of eight National Fish Hatcheries across the Southeast that is responsible for $26.8 million in annual economic benefits through warmwater recreational fish production.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA)

 

Last updated: May 7, 2010