It’s Great Outdoors Month, and the Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program would like to celebrate Denise Clay, Fish Biologist and Outreach Coordinator at the Lower Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office, who was the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s recipient of the 2018 Legends Award established by the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. The Legends Award recognizes outstanding Federal employees for their contributions towards enhancing our Nation's outdoor recreation programs, connecting people – especially children – and the outdoors, through innovative programs and partnerships. Denise has shown tremendous passion for connecting people of all ages and backgrounds with nature. She has worked tirelessly to develop partnerships with others to help reach more youth and conduct conservation for the Great Lakes region. At last count she has worked with 50 different organizations to bring science and the outdoors to youth.
In 2017 Denise coordinated 43 programs, engaging with over 28,000 people in the western New York. One program Denise brought to a new level is Students, Nature, and Photography (SNAP!), reaching 1,270 students from grades 3-12. Students from Buffalo’s Riverside Academy recently featured their photography and inspiration in an art exhibit at Buffalo State College. For many, this was the first time they had been out in the woods, and they loved it.
If you are looking for a place to take mom fishing over Mother’s Day weekend, think about a National Fish Hatchery. Many of our hatcheries provide fishing opportunities and might be just a short drive away. While visiting you can relax, have a picnic, view fish and wildlife, take a tour, and maybe enjoy a walking, hiking or biking trail.
To see what is available at a hatchery near you, please visit their website or call ahead. Not all hatcheries will offer the same opportunities. A few examples include:
Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery
Dale Hollow hatchery, just off State Highway 53, has a nice creek located below it which is stocked every Friday with rainbow trout. The adjacent Obey River, known for its excellent rainbow and trout fishing, also is stocked with rainbow trout but in April, brown trout only. The hatchery offers a paved path along the creek, wheelchair accessible public fishing area, nature viewing, hatchery tours, and public restrooms. The adjoining Corps of Engineers campground provides full hook-ups for campers and easy access to both the Obey River and hatchery creek. There is also an annual Kids’ Fishing Rodeo, lots of fun for mom and kids.
Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery
Within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, the hatchery releases 1 million Spring Chinook in April and 4.5 million Fall Chinook in July. The fish make their way from the hatchery to the Columbia River by way of Drano Lake with access on adjacent hatchery property. A wheelchair accessible fishing ramp and platform provides enhanced fishing opportunities and a boat ramp provides easy access for launching into Drano Lake, where you can fish for Chinook, coho and steelhead. Public restrooms, picnic tables, wildlife viewing and an interpretative center are available.
Harrison Lake National Fish Hatchery
Charles City, Virginia
Harrison Lake provides anglers with a peaceful setting to try their luck on a variety of fish species: largemouth bass, black crappie, chain pickerel, bluegill, redear sunfish, warmouth, flier, and bowfin. There is a gravel boat ramp and a wheelchair accessible pier provided free of charge. The use of gasoline motors is not allowed unless they are 5-hp or less. Other recreational opportunities on the hatchery include hiking along two wooded nature trails, birding, wildlife watching, and picnic tables overlooking the lake. The hatchery sits on 444 acres and is adjacent to the Virginia Capital Trail, a 52-mile biking/hiking trail.Find a hatchery near you!
Lake sturgeon were presumed extirpated from most of the Great Lakes until recently. Scientists from the Shedd Aquarium and the Service’s Northeast Fishery Center and Lower Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office are using marine-animal monitoring technology and satellites to study their behavior and movement in Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, and the Niagara River. Because sturgeon can reach over 7 feet in length and weigh more than 200 pounds, scientists are using technology ocean researchers use to collect information on dolphins, sharks and turtles. The collaboration that began in 2014 marks the first time Great Lakes sturgeon were studied using this technology known as pop-off satellite tags; learn about their results in the Journal of Great Lakes Research. Because sturgeon don’t reproduce until they are 10 to 20 years old, it will take them decades to recover after their numbers were so low 40 years ago. Over the past 4 years, Lower Great Lakes and Northeast Fishery Center have observed more sturgeon and documented spawning. In the coming year, they will look for juveniles to document evidence of new generations of sturgeon.