Enhancing Ohio's State Fish Populations
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife operates six state fish hatcheries. Sport fish species raised for stocking in public waters include: coldwater fish (rainbow trout, brown trout), coolwater fish (saugeye, walleye, yellow perch and muskellunge) and warmwater fish (hybrid striped bass, channel catfish, bluegill and largemouth bass). The Division has also raised non-sport species to re-establish threatened and endangered fish populations. The Division raises and stocks over 40 million fish each year to support these programs.
Stocking is only one of the fish management tools used by the Division to manage state fish populations. The majority of Ohio’s fish populations are sustained through natural reproduction. Stocking is appropriate when natural reproduction cannot sustain a population or to provide short-term fishing opportunities in specific situations or events.
See information below and associated links to learn more about Ohio’s State Fish Hatcheries.
Castalia State Fish Hatchery
Castalia State Fish Hatchery is located on 90 acres in western Erie County, just southwest of Sandusky, Ohio. This facility is the newest of the six state fish hatcheries and came on-line in the fall of 1997, after it was purchased from private interests. The hatchery production facilities consist of 70 indoor rearing troughs, one covered outdoor raceway building, and three outdoor raceways. The indoor troughs and covered raceways are supplied with water from one of the area’s many blue-hole aquifers (2,500 gallons per minute capacity). The remaining outdoor raceways are supplied with water diverted from Cold Creek (10,000 gallons per minute capacity). This cold-water supply allows the hatchery to raise steelhead and rainbow trout. All of the state’s steelhead production occurs at this hatchery. Rainbow trout are raised to catchable size before being stocked in Ohio lakes and Cold Creek.
Hebron State Fish Hatchery
Hebron State Fish Hatchery is located in southern Licking County, north of Buckeye Lake. This 230-acre facility was acquired from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1982. This hatchery has 63 ponds, 13 indoor rearing troughs, 25 acres of wetlands and 50 wooded acres with 2.5 miles of nature trails. Water is supplied by Buckeye Lake (5,000 gallons per minute capacity) through a 1.5-mile section of the old Ohio-Erie Canal. Two wells (370 gallons per minute capacity) also provide water to the hatchery. Saugeye, walleye and channel catfish represent the majority of fish production, but blue catfish and bluegill are also raised at the hatchery.
Kincaid State Fish Hatchery
Kincaid State Fish Hatchery is located on more than 200 acres in western Pike County. This facility became operational under the direction of the Division of Conservation, a predecessor to the Division of Wildlife, in 1935. The hatchery has 15 ponds containing a total of 24 water acres. The facility also has six indoor raceways and four indoor rearing troughs. Water is supplied by a spring that can deliver 70-3,000 gallons per minute, depending on groundwater levels. This cold- water supply allows the hatchery to raise muskellunge and rainbow trout. Muskellunge were first raised at the hatchery in 1953 and production has grown steadily since. Muskellunge production starts in the spring, while trout production starts in the fall.
London State Fish Hatchery
London State Fish Hatchery is located on over 80 acres in western Madison County, just west of London, Ohio. The facility was built in 1896 by the Ohio Fish Commission, a predecessor to the Division of Wildlife and is the oldest of the six hatcheries. The hatchery has 33 ponds containing a total of 8 water acres. The facility also has one large outdoor raceway (a cement or earthen manmade canal with flowing water) and nine indoor rearing troughs. Water is supplied by several wells, which can deliver 2,000 gallons per minute. This cold- water supply and spring-fed ponds allow the hatchery to raise muskellunge, rainbow trout and brown trout. The hatchery is involved in fish production year-round and is the main production facility for brown trout. Muskellunge production starts in the spring, while trout production starts in the fall.
Senecaville State Fish Hatchery
Senecaville State Fish Hatchery is located on over 120 acres in southern Guernsey County below the dam of Seneca Lake. This facility was acquired from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1987. The hatchery has 37 ponds containing a total of 37 water acres and 16 indoor rearing troughs. Water is supplied by Seneca Lake, which can deliver 2,000 gallons per minute. This water supply allows the hatchery to raise saugeye, walleye, hybrid striped bass and channel catfish. Saugeye and walleye production begins in early spring and hybrid striped bass production starts in late spring with fry being grown out to fingerlings at the hatchery. Channel catfish production starts in the summer using breeding adults kept at the hatchery.
St. Marys State Fish Hatchery
St. Mary's Fish Hatchery is located on over 150 acres in western Auglaize County on the eastern shore of Grand Lake St. Marys. This facility, opened in 1913, was originally operated by the Western Ohio Fish and Game Association and was officially dedicated as a state hatchery in 1936. The hatchery has 26 ponds containing a total of 43 water acres. The facility also has two outdoor raceways and nine indoor rearing troughs. Water is supplied by Grand Lake St. Marys (5,000 gallons per minute capacity) and four wells (over 1,600 gallons per minute capacity). This water supply allows the hatchery to raise saugeye, walleye, yellow perch, channel catfish and blue catfish. Production begins in the spring with walleye egg collection for production of both walleye and saugeye. Also in the spring, yellow perch breeding adults are placed into hatchery troughs with provided spawning structures. Once these three species are hatched, grown and stocked into area lakes, the ponds are refilled and stocked with fingerling channel catfish and blue catfish fry.