Fishing Through the Seasons - At National Fish Hatcheries

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The four seasons are officially marked by equinoxes and solstices. Unofficially, anglers mark the seasons by changing water temperatures and fish behaviors. Understanding these seasonal differences, and adapting your tactics accordingly, can kick off a fun day of fishing for the whole family. 

To help you start thinking about leaving your chores for another day so you can enjoy time on the water—in any season—here are a few national fish hatcheries that provide fishing access and are welcoming hotspots for anglers.  

Before you visit a national fish hatchery, please call ahead to ensure it is open, or for visitor hours, and additional information. State fishing regulations apply on all national fish hatcheries.


The water is starting to warm up which can make for faster action. Pick a nice day and look for warmer areas to fish like shallow water and places that are in the sun. Remember, spring weather can affect water current and clarity along with temperature. While you’re waiting for a bite, check out how you can help prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species invasive species
An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

Learn more about invasive species
by visiting Five Ways to Protect Our Waters.  

Bluegill sunfish.

Where to Fish - Tishomingo National Fish Hatchery, Oklahoma 

Know Before you Go - Tish, as the locals call it, is located on beautiful Pennington Creek. Both fly fishing and spin fishing are popular by wading or bank-fishing methods. The hatchery grounds are open for fishing and nature trail hiking, 24 hours a day, year-round.  

Possible Catch - smallmouth bass and sunfish 

Rainbow trout. 

Where to Fish - Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery, Kentucky 

Know Before You Go - Nearby Hatchery Creek provides healthy aquatic habitat that attracts trout, including larger, trophy-size fish from the Cumberland River, and there is a wheelchair-accessible fishing ramp. Fishing the stream provides a great opportunity to see native wildlife. Wolf Creek hatchery also has an environmental education/visitor center, a hiking trail, and offers hatchery tours.  

Possible Catch - most likely rainbow trout but a chance you could catch brown, brook, and cutthroat trout 


In the hotter times of year, the best fishing action is often early and late in the day. Besides a great time of year to fish, one thing to add to your must-do summer list, celebrate National Fishing and Boating Week, a nationwide celebration of recreational fishing and boating held the first full week of June. Attend an event or clinic, go fishing, or introduce someone new to this great outdoor pasttime! provides fishing and boating information and events near you.  

Brown trout. 

Where to Fish - Hotchkiss National Fish Hatchery, Colorado 

Know Before you Go - The hatchery offers fishing opportunities on Colorado’s North Fork of the Gunnison River. Downstream of the hatchery, anglers can fish where the fish production water enters the river after flowing through the fish hatchery. Fish are near this outlet because water temperatures are a little warmer than the river in the winter and a little cooler than the river in the summer.  

Possible Catch - rainbow and brown trout species are the main attraction year-round 

Adult largemouth bass.

Where to Fish - Harrison Lake National Fish Hatchery, Virginia

Know Before you Go - This national fish hatchery offers fishing, boating, hiking, picnicking, and wildlife watching.  Harrison Lake is the hatchery's 90-acre water supply reservoir, but also provides anglers with a peaceful setting to try their luck on a variety of fish species. There is a gravel boat ramp and a handicapped-accessible pier with picnic tables. During the summer months, portable toilets are accessible. 

Possible Catch - largemouth bass, black crappie, chain pickerel, bluegill, redear sunfish, warmouth, flier, bowfin 


Cooler temps are in the air and how you fish will need to change too. Fish are more active throughout the day. They will be aggressively feeding as they prepare for winter. More aggressive feeding = easier-to-catch fish!  

Smallmouth bass. 

Where to Fish - Spring Creek National Fish Hatchery, Washington 

Know Before you Go - The hatchery has provided recreational fishing opportunities to the public for over one hundred years. There are several parking areas and anglers can use established trails leading to the Columbia River. If you’d rather just watch fish, tule fall Chinook salmon begin returning to the hatchery in late August.  

Possible Catch - Chinook salmon, steelhead trout, white sturgeon, smallmouth bass 


Where to Fish - Inks Dam National Fish Hatchery, Texas 

Know Before you Go - Inks Dam National Fish Hatchery serves its immediate community of the Texas Hill Country as a fishing and day-use outdoor recreation site on the Colorado River of central Texas. The hatchery offers several trails for exploration. A kayak launch and fishing pier on the Colorado River will be installed very soon. 

Possible Catch - several species of bass, catfish, crappie, and sunfish 


Fish are cold-blooded meaning their surrounding environment largely regulates their body temperature. They’re more sluggish when water temperatures drop but they’re still looking for an easy meal. Fish slowly, be patient, and be ready when a fish finds your bait. Also, before you head out fishing for the new year, you might want to double check that your fishing license is valid and review the regulations for your area waters.  

Brook trout. 

Where to Fish - Northeast Fishery Center, Pennsylvania

Know Before you Go - The Northeast Fishery Center is on Fishing Creek and almost the entire Fishing Creek Watershed is designated as a High Quality-Cold Water Fishery with 41 miles of Class A streams. While you’re in the area fishing, think about a tour of the facility. They can be arranged by calling ahead.  

Possible Catch - rainbow, brook, and brown trout 

Snake River cutthroat trout: 

Where to Fish - Jackson National Fish Hatchery, Wyoming   

Know Before You Go - The hatchery pond is an excellent place for children and first-time anglers, whether it be fly fishing or using worms. There is a wheelchair-accessible observation/fishing deck available too. The mountain scenery from the pond is beautiful and the hatchery provides indoor tanks for fish viewing. 

Possible Catch - native Snake River cutthroat trout 

Allegheny National Fish Hatchery is located on the Allegheny river. The hatchery provides 3,000 feet of shore angler access. 

Visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fishing map to find where to fish at national fish hatcheries or national wildlife refuges. For up-to-date local fishing information for where you live, state fishing reports are available.     

National Fish Hatchery System 

Since 1871 we have been improving recreational fishing and restoring aquatic species that are in decline or at risk. Across the country our network of national fish hatcheries and conservation offices work with states and tribes to conserve, restore, and enhance the fish and aquatic resources of America for future generations. More than one million people visit a national fish hatchery every year to fish, hunt, hike, go birdwatching, and simply enjoy the outdoors. Find a hatchery near you. 

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Fish hatcheries
Freshwater fish
Sport fishing

Recreational Activities