An estimated 1,000,000 trout weighing 275,000 pounds are produced each year. These fish provide over $50 million dollars per year in direct economic benefits. These fish are stocked in coordination with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources in over 125 public fishing waters within the commonwealth of Kentucky.
At Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery, visitors can tour our interactive visitor/education center, learn about the trout life cycle in the hatchery building, feed fish in the outdoor raceways, take a walk through our Nature Trail, and spend some time fishing at Hatchery Creek.
Come face to face with the region’s underwater friends, explore karst terrain, see the inner workings of an active honey bee hive, and meet Dale, the lifelike animatronic fish biologist—all by stepping into the unique and exciting exhibit hall at the Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery Visitor/Environmental Education Center. Much more awaits the entire family in a fun and engaging educational journey through the center—located on a working trout hatchery at the base of Wolf Creek Dam and beautiful Lake Cumberland. Visitors are welcome to tour the hatchery and fish the well-stocked creek below the hatchery. A theater, gift shop, picnic area, wheelchair accessible fishing ramp and special events make Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery a destination not to be missed. Nearby camping at Kendall Campground is available.
Our gift shop is operated by the Friends of Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery, Inc. The shop offers a wide array of books, pins, fishing bait and light tackle, home decorations and more - all designed with an outdoor/environmental education theme in mind. All proceeds from sales in the shop are used to help support the hatchery, its mission and environmental education and outreach needs.
Location and Contact Information
Since 1871, the National Fish Hatchery system has been at work improving recreational fishing and restoring aquatic species that are in decline, at risk, and are important to the health of our aquatic systems. Across the country, the network of National Fish Hatcheries work with states and tribes to conserve, restore and enhance the fish and aquatic resources of America for future generations.
The hatchery offers self-guided tours and pre-arranged group tours for children and adults. We provide tours to many school, church, and community groups throughout the year. Tours can be tailored to meet the educational needs and age level of the group. For example, if your group is interested in learning about fish production practices, the life cycle of trout, or about environmental issues in our community and world, just reach out to us and we will work with you to provide a fun, educational experience!
What We Do
Over a century ago, environmentalists recognized that conservation measures were necessary to maintain good fishing opportunities in our public waters. Fishing has always been one of America's leading forms of outdoor recreation. The primary responsibility of Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery (NFH) is to raise rainbow, brook and brown trout which will help preserve this tradition for present and future generations of Americans.
Eyed eggs are shipped to Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery from four federal Ennis National Fish Hatchery, Erwin National Fish Hatchery, White Sulphur Springs National Fish Hatchery, and Saratoga National Fish Hatchery. The eggs are placed in an iodine solution to prevent contamination. Afterwards, eggs are placed in hatching jars. Water flows through these jars continuously, to mimic natural spawning habitat, to ensure proper oxygenation, and to deter fungal growth.hatcheries:
From the time the eggs arrive, it takes approximately two weeks for hatching to occur. Once the eggs have hatched, the small fish are called alevin, or sac fry, termed for the retained yolk sac on the underside of the fish. The sac fry will float to the top of the hatching jar, and travel with the overflowing water from the jar to the bottom of the tank. Here the sac fry lie on the bottom, absorbing nutrients from their yolk sacs for approximately 2-3 weeks before beginning on feed.
Once fry reach approximately 2-3 inches in length, they are known as fingerlings. Fingerlings are moved from a tank in the nursery to one of the 64 outdoor raceways.
Once the fish are moved to the outside raceways, they will be split or thinned several times during their time at the hatchery. The splitting ensures proper space for growth and good fish health. The larger the fish, the fewer are in a raceway and the more months they are at the hatchery. Most of the fish are stocked at 9, 10, 12 or 15 inches.
In addition to trout production, Wolf Creek is engaged in the conservation and rearing of several Endangered fish and freshwater mussel species; like Barrens topminnow, Cumberland bean, Cumberlandian combshell, Pink mucket, Purple cat's paw, Fluted kidneyshell, Cracking pearlymussel, Snuffbox, Tan riffleshell, Rabbitsfoot, Round hickorynut, Kentucky creekshell, Kidneyshell and several others.
It takes approximately 18 months to raise fish from the egg stage to a stockable size. Once the fish reach the desired length, it is time for stocking. Fish are collected, weighed, and then placed in a holding tank on the truck in preparation for distribution. Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery, in coordination with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, stock trout in 125 different public fishing waters within the commonwealth.
- 13,700 lbs. - 10,000 fish at 15 inches
- 9,350 lbs. - 13,550 fish at 12 inches
- 47,950 lbs. - 119,800 fish at 10 inches
- 155,000 lbs. - 492,975 fish at 9 inches
- 2,100 lbs. - 3,000 fish at 12 inches
- 9,425 lbs. - 45,150 fish at 8 inches
- 15 lbs. - 150 fish at 6 inches
- 7,825 lbs. - 25,000 fish at 9 inches
- 4 lbs. - 300 fish at 3 inches
7,825 lbs.- 25,000 fish at 9 inches
Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery is a cold water facility that produces trout. Approximately one million trout are produced each year. Species include rainbow, brook, brown, and cutthroat trout.
Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery's Library is a great place for you to dive deeper into what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is about.
Friends and volunteers
Friends of Wolf Creek NFH, Inc.
Friends of Wolf Creek NFH, Inc. is a 501©(3) non-profit organization formed in 2005. The friends group provides a number of services for the community including:
- Plan, sponsor, and carry out four fishing events a year for children, seniors, and veterans;
- raise money to help the hatchery promote a better understanding and appreciation of the natural history, resources, and habitat of Kentucky;
- provide a scholarship to one Russell County High School senior wanting to major in fields of conservation of natural resources/environmental science in college; and
- sponsor several local students in the 4th-6th grades to attend conservation camp at Camp Earl Wallace.
The Friends of Wolf Creek NFH meets every 2nd Tuesday of the month at Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery-1:00 p.m. CST. Contact Friends of Wolf Creek NFH to learn more or to become a member: firstname.lastname@example.org, or (270) 343-3797. Visit our Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/fowcnfh.
Wolf Creek NFH relies heavily on volunteers to maintain facilities and provide services. Here, the contributions of volunteers are equivalent to nearly six additional full time employees per year.
There are many opportunities to volunteer with Wolf Creek NFH–whether that’s assisting in the Visitor Center or helping with fish production, volunteering during special events, or becoming a resident work camper.
We rely on work camping volunteers to staff and maintain our Center and assist in outreach activities year-round. Minimum three month commitment preferred.
In exchange for 20-27 hours/person/week (summer) and 18-24 hours/person/week (winter), volunteers receive a full hook-up campsite on a large, level, gravel lot, with fire pit and picnic table, onsite laundry, and limited WiFi. Propane provided during winter.
Work camping volunteer duties include: serving as point of contact for visitors–answering questions/providing assistance; leading tours and helping with field trips; caring for live education animals; performing day-to-day operation of Center gift shop; stocking brochures and handouts; cleaning Center including restrooms; performing minor maintenance; helping to plan special events, workshops and other outreach programs.
Projects and Research
Threatened and Endangered Species
Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery is actively engaged in the recovery and restoration of imperiled aquatic species. Recovery and restoration activities include: on-station propagation; reintroductions; field surveys.
Currently, Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery is working with the Barrens Topminnow species. We receive juvenile Barrens Topminnow from spawning facilities (Conservation Fisheries Inc., Tennessee Aquarium) and after grow-out, stock Barrens Topminnow into native streams in Tennessee.
Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery is also engaged in the recovery and restoration of native freshwater mussels. The conservation of the freshwater mussels include species such as Cumberland Bean, Cumberland Combshell, Purple Cats Paw, Pink Mucket, Tan Riffleshell, Fluted Kidneyshell, Cracking Pearlymussel and Snuffbox.