Fishing and Coloring at Uvalde National Fish Hatchery

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Taking a break from fishing to color a rainbow trout.

The Uvalde National Fish Hatchery in Texas has been active in community outreach for much of its 86-year history. Giving presentations about the species we work with at local area schools and providing display tanks and literature at outdoor events in southwest Texas regularly occupy the time of hatchery staff. It might be a little extra work, but a necessary and even a welcome change of pace. A usual day at the hatchery consists of working with plants and animals held in refugia which means the daily care and maintenance of plants and animals held at the hatchery as assurance against extinction.

As much as people enjoy hearing about the many species of threatened and endangered aquatic organisms held in refugia, the most popular outreach events we have are our fishing derbies.

In years past, only one fishing derby per year was held at the hatchery and it was held without prior registration or limits on the number of participants. Over time, the event took on a carnival like atmosphere without an emphasis on enjoying nature. Now held five times per year, mostly around national holidays, 100 registered participants are allowed to catch and keep up to three channel catfish. By focusing on smaller groups, multiple times per year, the derbies have become more relaxed and enjoyable for those who participate.

Uvalde National Fish Hatchery fishing derbies are open to anyone who registers before the 100-person limit is reached; however, our focus is on youth involvement. By giving young people the opportunity to enjoy an outdoor activity like fishing, we are providing a positive influence on the lives of future conservationists.

Of course, not all the young people that visit the hatchery are as eager as some of their family members to go fishing. That is why along with free fishing bait and bottled water, we also offer Color-A-Fish coloring books and crayons to the younger participants. Each book has both English and Spanish descriptions of various bass, trout, perch, and sunfish species. To date, the coloring books have been a big hit. Children can pick up the books before they go fishing, during, or after and many times they request extra coloring books for family members that are not in attendance. We are always happy to accommodate them.

Reeling in a channel catfish at Uvalde's National Fishing and Boating week fishing derby.

This work was supported by a grant from the Fish and Aquatic Conservation Fish Funds program. Participation in outdoor activities like hunting, fishing, hiking, and birding connects people with nature and empower the next generation of conservationists.

Story Tags

Connecting people with nature
Fish hatcheries

Recreational Activities