Wednesday, November 14 was an exciting day at Norfork National Fish Hatchery. The display raceway is one of the most intriguing aspects of the hatchery for visitors and employees alike. There is nothing quite like seeing fish grow to uncommon sizes. Most of the fish in that raceway have been and will remain residents there for many years. Why am I telling you this? Well, it's because some of those massive trout were relocated to a new home. Just like the other raceways, density plays an important role in fish health and growth. Fish in the display raceway were starting to die at a higher rate and removing a few is always a good start to relieving stress on large fish. So, to all those who wonder whether or not the "big fish" are stocked, the answer is yes, on rare occasion.
When we stock large, trophy sized trout, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission comes to tag and take measurements of them. It is always a fun time for us to work together and have some fun! 12 lunker rainbow trout were removed from the display raceway. Each one was anesthetized for easier, less harmful handling. The fish were tagged, measured, weighed, and placed in the distribution tank to await release. The heaviest was a female, weighing in at just over 18 pounds, and the longest fish was 29 inches! They were released into the North Fork River, with no mortalities observed. There were several spectators at the boat ramp watching as the fish were set free. It is safe to say that they received more of a show then they probably expected. There are not many things more rewarding than watching the fruits of your labor put smiles on peoples' faces. it was an enjoyable experience, and we greatly appreciate the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission for assisting us with it. We are hoping to see pictures of some very happy fishermen and some very big trout soon.