About Us

In 1975, Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery was established. Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery is a coldwater fish hatchery which means we raise fish that do best in water temperatures below 60 degrees.  Species currently being raised at this facility include brown trout, brook trout, cutthroat trout and rainbow trout.

Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery Educational/Visitors Center

The rainbow trout eggs come from one of three other federal hatcheries: Erwin NFH in Tennessee; Ennis NFH in Montana; and White Sulphur Springs in West Virginia. The brown trout eggs come from the Saratoga National Fish Hatchery in Wyoming.  All of the eggs are received overnight by Federal Express. The brook trout eggs come from the Erwin hatchery in Tennessee.

A small number of fish are stocked at four inches, six inches, eight inches, 12 inches and 15 inches to meet specific management needs. The majority of our fish are stocked as a catchable nine or 10 inch fish.

It takes 16-18 months to get a trout from the egg stage to nine inches.

Most of the fish are stocked into federal mitigation waters in Kentucky. The other fish are provided to the Commonwealth of Kentucky under a reimbursable agreement to meet management goals in state controlled waters. A total of 125 different waters in Kentucky are stocked with trout from this facility.

All fish raised at this facility are stocked into public fishing waters.

Our Mission

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. 

Operated by the Service, Wolf Creek NFH is one of many facilities serving a vital role in sustaining and managing of our nation’s aquatic natural resources. Wolf Creek NFH was established in 1975 to produce trout for mitigation stockings of the cold tailwaters below the Wolf Creek Dam, as well as other U.S. Army Corps of Engineers water projects (dams) located in Kentucky. The hatchery currently produces four species of trout: brook trout, brown trout, cutthroat trout, and rainbow trout. 

Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery strives to:

  • Provide brown, brook, cutthroat and rainbow trout for mitigation stocking in Kentucky and Indiana.
  • Provide brown, brook and rainbow trout to the Commonwealth of Kentucky under a reimbursable agreement.
  • Provide a refuge for and propagate several threatened or endangered aquatic species. Develop techniques required to culture these species.
  • Assist tribal governments in managing fisheries resources on tribal lands by providing rainbow and brown trout.
  • Implement a thorough, perennial hatchery product evaluation program.
  • Maintain Visitor/Environmental Education Center.
  • Provide environmental education.
  • Develop and maintain partnerships with chambers of commerce, tourist commissions, Trout Unlimited and other agencies to promote regional support for the fish hatchery.
  • Maintain a Friends Group, Friends of Wolf Creek NFH, Inc. to gain community support for the fish hatchery.

Our History

The Flood Control Act of 1938 and the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1946 authorized the construction of the Wolf Creek Dam for the purposes of flood control and hydroelectric power generation. The Wolf Creek Dam and Reservoir (Lake Cumberland) Project was completed in 1950. This project is operated and managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  

The Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (FWCA) of 1934 was enacted to protect fish and wildlife when federal actions result in the control or modification of a natural stream or body of water. This Act provided the legislative authority to establish Wolf Creek NFH. 

In accordance with the FWCA, the Secretary of the Army granted the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife (pre-cursor of the Service) the right to construct, operate, maintain, and to manage a national fish hatchery and related facilities on a 19.09 acre tract of land on the Lake Cumberland Project. The initial permit for construction was received from the Secretary of the Army in April 1970. The source of funding for the construction of Wolf Creek NFH was provided by the Department of Interior and related Agencies Appropriation Act for 1968.  

 Wolf Creek NFH was established in 1975. It  began its distribution program with fingerling rainbow trout stockings in 1976. The catchable rainbow trout program began in 1977 when the first lot of fingerlings reached a suitable size. 

Wolf Creek NFH began producing brown trout in 1986. The first stockings of brown trout took place in 1987 with the stocking of 8-inch fish into the Cumberland tailwater.   

The Visitor/Environmental Education Center was opened to the public in 2006. In 2006, three RV sites for volunteers with 50/30A electric, water, sewer, propane, phone and internet were constructed. This provided the means to build a resident volunteer program. Two additional sites were constructed in 2007.  

In 2010, the hatchery started a new era by receiving brook trout and triploid rainbow trout eggs for the first time. Stockings of brook trout and triploid rainbow trout began in 2011. 

In 2019, Wolf Creek NFH began receiving cutthroat trout eggs. The hatchery is actively working on implementing strategies to add these to its production and stockings.