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Hatcheries & Refuges Cooperate

Information iconChannel catfish from Welaka National Fish Hatchery in Florida. (Photo: USFWS)

The National Fish Hatchery System works with tribes, states, landowners, partners and others to promote and maintain healthy, self-sustaining populations of fish and other aquatic species. The Hatchery System includes 70 national fish hatcheries and 14 related facilities. In 2019, the system released (stocked) more than 127 million adult and juvenile fish from 66 fish species into various waters in 44 states.Annual fish releases like this enhance opportunities for recreational anglers.

A small part of the Hatchery System’s effort involves stocking native fish at national wildlife refuges for anglers’ benefit. Here are a few examples:

Private John Allen National Fish Hatchery in Mississippi

This hatchery stocks channel catfish at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama and Panther Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Mississippi. “We’re trying to increase recreational use and opportunity on national wildlife refuges, other Service lands and tribal lands,” says hatchery manager Ricky Campbell. Often, the hatchery stocks refuge waters for kids’ fishing events. “After the event is over, the waters are open for the community to fish,” Campbell says. Once or twice a year, the hatchery also stocks its own pond to host special fishing rodeos for local veterans groups in Tupelo, Mississippi.

Valley City National Fish Hatchery in North Dakota

This hatchery provides walleye fingerlings to support recreational fishing, including ice fishing, on several refuges and waterfowl production areas in North Dakota. Among them are Tewaukon, Upper Souris and Lake Ilo National Wildlife Refuges.

Welaka National Fish Hatchery in Florida

Welaka National Fish Hatchery stocks channel catfish at Lake Woodruff and St. Marks National Wildlife Refuges.

A three image collage of a river, fish at the hatchery and the entrance sign for the Genoa National Fish Hatchery.
Genoa National Fish Hatchery, bottom, supplies a variety of native fish and mussels to Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, top. (Photos: USFWS)

Genoa National Fish Hatchery in Wisconsin

This hatchery provides fish to numerous refuges in the Midwest. It has stocked six species of fish at Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge: walleye, black crappie, smallmouth bass, sauger, yellow perch and bluegill. The hatchery has stocked five species at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin for fishing events and to help recover waters impacted by winterkill. The hatchery also stocks largemouth bass and yellow perch at Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge in Illinois and helps rear walleye at Rydell National Refuge for Minnesota tribal fishery programs.

Ouray National Fish Hatchery in Utah

This hatchery stocks endangered razorback sucker and endangered bonytail cub at Ouray National Wildlife Refuge in Utah. Fishing is permitted in the Green River adjacent to the refuge, but refuge backwaters are closed to fishing because endangered fish are stocked there.

Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery in Louisiana

Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery stocks channel catfish at Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana.

Tishomingo National Fish Hatchery in Oklahoma

This hatchery provided channel catfish last year to Muleshoe, Hagerman and Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuges in Texas for fishing derbies. More than 200 14-to-20-inch fish were supplied to each refuge. The hatchery also stocks channel catfish and largemouth bass fingerlings at Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge.


Information iconOuray National Wildlife Refuge and Ouray National Fish Hatchery work together. (Photo: Jaclyn Kircher/USFWS)