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More and more, teachers and after-school fishing clubs are learning that a trip to a hatchery can be a fun part of their aquatic studies. Moreover, we're making the hatcheries more fun to visit.
State fish hatcheries provide unique opportunities to see lots of fish at all stages in their life cycles, to learn where the fish are going, and to appreciate the limited role stocking plays in keeping fish populations healthy and productive.
The Root River Steelhead Facility in Racine and the C.D. "Buzz" Besadny Anadromous Fisheries Facility in Kewaunee are egg collection facilities. Windows into streams allow visitors to watch fish spawning runs. At the Besadny Facility, naturalist Julie Hein-Frank developed a study guide so teachers can prepare students for their field trip. Hein-Frank meets the group at the facility, gives them a tour to explain how egg collection works, then takes them to the adjacent stream to scoop up invertebrates. Students get their hands wet conducting water quality tests. After the field experience, teachers get follow-up lessons back in the classroom.
Education was part of the renovation plan at the Spooner Hatchery, and when it reopened as the Gov. Tommy G. Thompson Hatchery in 1996, visitors were dazzled by a 24-foot mural created by artist Ruth King, a DNR nonpoint source pollution specialist. Other exhibits offer fishing tips, provide lessons on fish anatomy, and explain the hatchery workings. The Yellow River Flowage, which is a short walk from the front door, is part of a shoreline demonstration project. Shell Lake Elementary, Spooner Elementary and others in the community helped plant native shrubs and grasses.
As Madison bulges at its boundaries, the grounds at the Nevin Hatchery in Fitchburg will be increasingly important as an educational site and as urban green space.
All of our state hatcheries and egg collection sites are open for visitations. Visiting hours vary, but most are open at least weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for visits. Hatchery visits are more interesting during certain times of the year. Call ahead to plan your visit during a peak season and reserve time when a staff member can meet your group.
Theresa Stabo is the state's aquatic resources education director.
Wisconsin's fish hatcheries
Broodstock are adult fish that are kept at a hatchery so that their eggs (roe) and sperm (milt) can be collected to produce fertilized eggs for production needs.
At a spawning facility you can see eggs collected from fish.
At a fish hatchery you can see eggs hatch and fish of various stages of their life cycle at the right time of year.
At a rearing station you can see fish being raised, which were transferred to them from other hatcheries.
All state fish hatcheries are open for visitation. Call ahead to be sure that the hatchery you are interested in is at a point in its stocking schedule that there is something interesting to see.
Art Oehmcke Hatchery
Brule Rearing Station
Governor Tommy G. Thompson Hatchery
Kettle Moraine Springs Hatchery
Lake Mills Hatchery
Lakewood Rearing Station
Langlade Rearing Station
St. Croix Falls Hatchery
Thunder River Rearing Station
Wild Rose Hatchery
Wisconsin's egg-taking sites
Strawberry Creek Spawning Facility
C.D. Besadny Anadromous Fisheries Facility
Root River Steelhead Facility