WV Wildlife: Trout Hatchery

Trout need to be fed daily by hatchery staff, many of which live on site, or close by. (WCHS/WVAH)

Most people think that trout are seasonal.

That may be true in regards to the stocking process itself, but at the Reed's Creek Fish Hatchery in Pendleton County, raising these beautiful trout is a year-round process. Jim Hedrick, a West Virginia DNR fisheries biologist and hatchery program manager, said it's essentially a circle of life at the hatchery.

"Ultimately, it starts by taking the larger fish in the hatchery and collecting eggs from those, and that usually starts happening around August of each year. And then when the fry hatch, they begin the growth process," Hedrick said.

It takes about 18 months for these little guys to grow large enough to be let loose, but once they do, these rainbow, golden, brown and brook trout will be finding new homes across the Mountain State.

"On an annual basis, normally we stock about 750,000 pounds of trout, which is slightly over a million fish a year," Hedrick said.

And the work that the DNR does isn't easy, like netting and carrying 40 pounds of trout multiple times.

"Having a hatchery is exactly like having a farm, so someone at the hatchery works every day. West Virginia, typically -- often times -- stocks larger fish than other states in general, and part of that has to do with the good water quality here in West Virginia. And a lot of times, well after stocking, you can still catch fish in what would be essentially a natural environment," Hedrick said.

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