Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery is one of 83 facilities in the National Fish Hatchery System administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery operates in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains of northern Georgia within the breathtakingly beautiful and diverse landscapes of the Chattahoochee National Forest. The facility rests in Fannin County, the Trout Capital of Georgia, and home of the Toccoa River Tailwaters of Lake Blue Ridge. The hatchery is a cold water production facility that raises rainbow, brook and brown trout for mitigation and recreational stocking purposes.
Since 1871, National Fish Hatcheries have been applying science-based approaches to conservation challenges. We work with our partners and engage the public to conserve, restore, and enhance fish and other aquatic resources for the continuing benefit of the American people. Conservation is at the heart of what we do, and we recognize that we do this work for the American people–both the present generation who benefit today and future generations who will inherit our legacy of conserving America’s aquatic resources.
Established in 1937, Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery has proudly served past generations with its vital role in sustaining and managing our nation’s natural resources and continues to do so for present and future Americans. Fulfilling mitigation responsibilities, supporting recreational fishing opportunities and education, and improving aquatic habitats are major parts of this vital role. The hatchery produces trout that are stocked into tailwaters, streams and lakes of northern Georgia in cooperation with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Tennessee Valley Authority.
The U.S. Forest Service, recognizing over a century ago that conservation measures were necessary to maintain good fishing in our public waters, constructed the Chattahoochee Forest NFH in 1937. Earth ponds were used for rearing fish, metal milk cans were used for carrying them and trucks and rail carts were used for transporting. In the 1950’s the operations moved slightly down stream where circular concrete ponds were built. On April 13, 1960, a cooperative agreement was signed which transferred ownership and operations to the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife. In 1974, it was designated as a Service facility.
Surrounded by the 749,444 acre Chattahoochee National Forest, the hatchery currently occupies a 44.8 acre tract of land standing astride Mill Creek and Rock Creek, which are tributaries of the Toccoa River. Current day operations include the hatchery building which houses 23 troughs for egg and sac fry stages and up to fingerling size 2-3 inch. Additionally, there are 46 outdoor concrete raceways that were constructed in the 1960’s and a portion of which were redone in 2014-15 where 3-4 inch fingerling to 9-12 inch stockable size trout are reared. Today, fish are transported on distribution trucks specially equipped with fish tanks and supplemental support systems to healthy sustain the fish for long and short haul stocking trips.
The current facility has a visitor information kiosk, education center and lab, environmental education pavilion, threatened and endangered species building, office, shop, feed room, storage buildings and housing quarters. These were constructed by the U.S. Civilian Conservation Corps and U.S. Fish and Wildlife employee Maintenance Action Teams.
On March 22, 2010, Fannin County, home of Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery, was officially recognized as the Trout Capital of Georgia with House Resolution 1773. The Resolution specifically states the federal hatchery as being, “not only a resource for stocking fish, but serves as a tourist attraction and education center,” http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/en-US/display/20092010/HR/1773.