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Four biologists walk through a shallow stream bed in a forrest looking for fish.
Information icon Daniel Schwarz, Ryan Theel, Daniel Drennen and Andy Sanderson sampling White Oak Creek for Bayou darter. Photo by Matt Peay, USFWS.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I purchase a fishing license?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does not issue fishing licenses.

To review Mississippi fishing regulations and to purchase a license, please contact the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks at 1-800-546-4868 or visit them online at

Why do we need federal hatcheries and who pays for them?

National fish hatcheries are supported by tax dollars. Fish raised at federal hatcheries are stocked in public waters to support federal fishery responsibilities mandated by law including

  • fish for restoration where, for example, habitat degradation has altered a stream’s natural reproductive capability;
  • to restore threatened or endangered populations; and
  • to support recreational fishing programs in Federal and state waters.

Does the hatchery sell fish?

No fish have ever been sold at Private John Allen NFH. In the past the hatchery partnered with the USDA to provide stockable fingerlings through the arm pond program. In 1989, the farm pond program was ended and hatchery production was shifted to threatened, endangered and at-risk species and the restoration of public, recreational fisheries. For a list of local and statewide fish farmers that can provide fish for private ponds, contact the hatchery.

What kind of fish are raised?

Private John Allen NFH raises several species of fish, including paddlefish, alligator gar, striped bass, walleye, largemouth bass, redear sunfish, bluegill bream, channel catfish, and lake sturgeon. The alligator gar are raised to restore depleted populations in the Lower Mississippi River Basin. The paddlefish are raised to augment the population in the Pascagoula River Basin. The striped bass are raised as part of the Gulf Coast Striped Bass Recovery Plan. The walleye are raised for restoration stocking throughout their historical ranges in Alabama and Mississippi. The lake sturgeon are raised for restoration purposes on the upper Tennessee River in Tennessee. The largemouth bass, bluegilll, redear sunfish, and channel catfish are raised to enhance recreational fishing on national wildlife refuges, state lakes and tribal lakes as needed. The hatchery also develops propagation techniques for at-risk species such as the yazoo darter, piebald madtom and pearl darter, with hopes to reintroduce some of these species in their historical ranges where they have disappeared. Mobile logperch are propagated to use as host fish for glochidia of the endangered southern combshell, a freshwater mussel.

How does the hatchery capture large brood fish such as paddlefish and alligator gar?

Alligator gar are captured using 150 ft. and 300 ft. gill nets. The nets are set free-floating in the water and capture any fish that is unable to swim through the six inch mesh. The nets are set late in the evening and checked on the hour throughout the night to ensure the safety of these large creatures. Captured fish are transported in specially designed circular tanks back to the hatchery.

How large do alligator gar grow and what do they eat?

Alligator gar can reach lengths up to 10 feet long and weigh over 300 pounds. The female brood fish at the hatchery are all in excess of 130 pounds. The joint behind the gar’s skull allows it to make nodding head movements much like an alligator, which allows the fish to eat prey including small mammals and large fish up to five pounds.

Does the hatchery offer tours?

Group tours by station personnel are available if arrangements are made in advance. Contact the hatchery office at 662-842-1341 for more details and to learn about a variety of exciting volunteer opportunities.

Can we visit the historic hatchery manager’s house?

The house is closed to tours while it undergoes renovation. The two-story Victorian home was constructed in 1904 and served as the residence for the hatchery manager until the 1980s. Much of Tupelo’s social life in the early 1900s took place In the residence, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.

The grounds surrounding the home hold a variety of native plants, many of which were donated as cuttings from plants handed down through generations. These areas make up our backyard habitats, which are designed to attract a variety of birds, pollinators, and other wildlife.

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