Blog entries / Fisheries / Outdoor recreation / Youth

Hatcheries help neighbors “fish on!”

This week is National Fishing and Boating Week. To celebrate, today we look at how our national fish hatcheries reach out to their neighbors to share their love of the great sport of fishing.first_bite_thumbnail

National fish hatcheries in the northeast region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service help raise fish for large-scale aquatic restoration. They also help raise awareness of fish through local fishing derbies and events.

A child in a red shirt and dark curly hair and skin holds a fish.

Success at the May 25, 2013 derby at White Sulphur Springs National Fish Hatchery. Credit: Rachel Mair/USFWS

Many of the derbies take place at the hatcheries themselves. For example, the Northeast Fishery Center in Lamar, Pennsylvania scheduled nine catch and release fishing events for youth, special needs youth and adults in long term care facilities in 2013.  “We have an ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] accessible pond that is very popular for these events,” says Steve Davis, a fish culture and facilities maintenance worker at the center.

A man in a wheelchair displays a fish he caught

The fishing event at the Northeast Fishery Center is popular with disabled fishers. Credit: USFWS

Mickey Novak, hatchery manager for Richard Cronin National Salmon Station, hosts several fishing events for veterans at his facility in Sunderland, Massachusetts. A veteran of the Vietnam war, Novak and a team of volunteers, many of them veterans themselves, help those who have served our country spend an enjoyable day angling. “It’s vets helping vets,” says Novak.

Veterans enjoy a fine fall day of fishing at Richard Cronin Salmon Station in 2012. Credit: Catherine J. Hibbard/USFWS

Veterans enjoy a fine fall day of fishing at Richard Cronin Salmon Station in 2012. Credit: Catherine J. Hibbard/USFWS

Volunteers are key to the success of derbies at other hatcheries, too. The White Sulphur Springs Rotarians and the Friends of White Sulphur Springs National Fish Hatchery support an annual derby that is a featured event of the Dandelion Festival in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. “This year we had 182 children attend, ages 3-13,” said acting project leader Keith McGilvray.

a young boy and and older girl show their fish

Kids ages 3 to 13 enjoyed fishing at White Sulphur Springs National Fish Hatchery. Credit: Rachel Mair/USFWS

Berkshire National Fish Hatchery in Hartsville (New Marlborough), Massachusetts annually cohosts six fishing events for kids April through September with the Berkshire Hatchery Foundation friends group. The Foundation also has a longstanding summertime program where any child 14 and under accompanied by an adult can check in at the office, receive a pass and fish the hatchery’s stocked lower pond.

A girl holds a fishing pole and the fish she caught.

All smiles at the White Sulphur Springs derby. Credit: Rachel Mair/USFWS.

Berkshire also provided fish for 21 public fishing events throughout Western Massachusetts and Connecticut in 2013, including a fishing day at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Northeast Regional Office in Hadley, Massachusetts. “Over 7,000 brook trout and rainbow trout were provided for public fishing events so far in 2013,” said hatchery manager Henry Bouchard   In addition, 2,500 surplus brook trout were donated to Massachusetts public fishing waters last fall.  These fish were released into the Green, Williams and Konkapot Rivers & Lakes Garfield and Buel all located in Berkshire County.”

Tracy Copeland of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service mentors a young fisherman. Credit: USFWS

Tracy Copeland of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service mentors a young fisherman at the Northeast Regional Office event. Credit: USFWS

Bouchard also manages the Dwight D. Eisenhower National Fish Hatchery in North Chittenden, Vermont, which in 2013 provided fish for three fishing derbies in Vermont attended by 450 participants, including Teenies Derby in Chittenden.

See a video of Teenies fishing derby!

The hatchery provided 750 brook trout and a few large landlocked salmon at the two kids’ events and one event for seniors and people with disabilities.   Staff helped participants bait hooks and land fish and set up a large display with brochures, handouts and an aquarium for a close-up view of the trout and salmon. “It’s really a team effort,” said Bouchard.

See more photo of our fishing derbies!
Northeast Fishery Center
Richard Cronin Salmon Station
2013 Northeast Regional Office
2012 Richard Cronin Salmon Station Youth Derby
2011 Northeast Regional Office
2010 Northeast Regional Office

One thought on “Hatcheries help neighbors “fish on!”

  1. I feel it’s cool to have the DNR there too and hoping they persuade “catch and release” because it seems like they caught a heck of a lot of fish that day. There seems to be a lot of disabled people in the pictures too. I really love it when they take advantage of the great sport of fishing because its perfect for them in a way. No matter what.. fishing is a sport for everyone to enjoy and come together and have fun. Cool share here.

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