Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery
Southeast Region
Map of the Southeast Region Map of Kentucky Map of the Caribbean and Navassa Map of North Carolina Map of Tennessee Map of South Carolina Map of Arkansas Map of Louisiana Map of Mississippi Map of Alabama Map of Georgia Map of Florida

About Us

Who We Are

A biologist fills a tall cylindrical vessel with small, bright orange circular fish eggs.
Filling hatching jars with fertilized trout eggs. Photo: USFWS.

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.


A female employee talks to a group of children.
Program Assistant Crystal Thomas speaking to a group of elementary school students at the University of Georgia’s Mountain Research and Education Center. Credit: USFWS
A biologist unloads fish from a net into a river.
Facilities Operations Specialist Terry Callihan stocking fish by net into the Toccoa River. Photo: USFWS.
Chattahoochee Forest NFH Staff Directory
Name Position Email Address
Kelly Taylor Project Leader
Terry Callihan Facilities Operations Specialist
Mitch Pickelsimer Facilities Operations Specialist
Crystal Thomas Program Assistant
Jamey Mull Animal Caretaker
Cory Ingram TEMP Motor Vehicle Operator

About our Fish

Several colorful trout in a dip net.
Beautiful Brook Trout Stocked by the Hatchery. Photo: USFWS.
Two biologists use a large net and scale to weigh small fish.
Facilities Operations Specialist Mitchell Pickelsimer (left) and Animal Caretaker Jamey Mull weighing trout to be loaded on trucks for stocking streams. Photo: USFWS.

The primary species raised at this facility is rainbow trout. The hatchery also has brown and brook trout. Populations of threatened and endangered fish are being held for refugia and growout.

Rainbow trout prefer cold, fresh water that seldom exceeds 65F.  They are managed for recreational fishing and to mitigate losses caused by water development projects.

A biologist loading fish into a truck.
Motor Vehicle Operator Cory Ingram loading fish. Photo: USFWS.

Fingerling trout and technical assistance are provided to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I purchase a fishing license?

To review Georgia fishing regulations and to purchase a license, please contact the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division or visit them online at The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service does not issue fishing licenses.

Can I fish and camp nearby?

Yes! Fishing is allowed in Rock Creek, which runs through hatchery grounds. Individuals must bring their own fishing gear, bait, license and trout stamp, all of which can be purchased at local stores. Rock Creek Lake, located two miles north of the hatchery, also provides good fishing opportunities. Stocking season is from March through September each year. All Georgia Sport Fishing Regulations apply.

Cooper Creek, 15 miles northwest of Suches, via Georgia highway 60 and Forest Service 236, is an angler’s paradise for trout fishing. Twenty-two miles northeast of Dahlonega on Georgia highway 180, Lake Winfield Scott offers magnificent scenery as well as swimming, fishing, boating, and other outdoor activities.

Morganton Point, 6 miles east of Blue Ridge, on U.S. 76 and Forest Service Road 615 introduces the 3,290 acre Lake Blue Ridge which produces fine bass, bluegill and crappie fishing.

Camping is available in surrounding areas. Although the hatchery does not maintain any camping facilities, the nearby Frank Gross Campground, maintained by the U.S. Forest Service, offers excellent facilities for both camping and picnicking. The Deep Hole Recreation Area, located just off Highway 60, offers camping, picnicking, swimming and fishing.

What kind of fish do you raise?

Two employees place fish in a large hatchery truck as preperation for trout release.
Project Leader Kelly Taylor (left) and Facilities Operations Specialist Mitchell Pickelsimer loading one of Chattahoochee’s stocking trucks. Photo: USFWS.

Rainbow trout

Where do you get the eggs to hatch the fish?

We get our eggs from the Erwin National Fish Hatchery in Erwin, TN. and Ennis National Fish Hatchery (MT).

How big are the fish when you stock them out?

Approximately nine inches.

How long does it take to get the fish from an egg to nine inches?

Approximately 12-16 months

Do you provide fish to private individuals?

No. All the fish raised at this facility are stocked into public waters.

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.

Do you give tours of the hatchery?

Special tour groups can be prearranged with the Hatchery Manager. Call the hatchery office at 706-838-4723 to make an appointment. You are invited to return often.

Economic Impact

Trout logo.
Fannin County is the “Trout Capital of Georgia” and home of Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery.
Trout logo.
Facilities Operations Specialist Mitchell Pickelsimer (left) and Project Leader Kelly Taylor man Chattahoochee’s exhibit booth at “Trout Fest” in Fannin County, the Trout Capital of Georgia and home of the hatchery. Credit: USFWS
Last updated: March 22, 2017