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DEC Fish Hatchery FAQs

Each year, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers head out to the state's numerous lakes, ponds, rivers and streams in hopes of catching some fish. Many anglers may be unaware, however, that a number of the fish they catch were probably raised in one of DEC's Fish Hatcheries.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the Purpose of Hatcheries?

DEC hatcheries produce fish for stocking into more than 1,200 public waters across the state. The specialized equipment and modern facilities available at each hatchery allows DEC to produce large numbers of healthy fish.

Why Stock Fish?

Fish are stocked for several reasons. Some are stocked to enhance recreational fishing, others to restore native species to waters they formerly occupied.

How Many Hatcheries Are There?

DEC operates 12 fish hatcheries located across the state. Each hatchery specializes in raising one or more species of fish.

What Kinds of Fish Are Stocked?

Numerous species of fish are produced at the hatcheries, including brook trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, lake trout, steelhead, chinook salmon, coho salmon, landlocked salmon, walleye, muskellunge, tiger muskellunge, lake sturgeon, paddlefish and round whitefish.

How Many Fish Are Produced?

Together, DEC's hatcheries annually produce close to 1,000,000 pounds of fish, resulting in stocking of several million fish.

Where Do the Fish Come From?

Several of the fish produced at the hatcheries develop from eggs taken from adult fish reared in the hatcheries. Adult fish kept at the hatchery for the purpose of providing eggs are called broodstock.

Another source of eggs is from adult fish from local waters. These fish are captured by hatchery personnel and then spawned. With the exception of the Pacific salmon, the spawning process involves gently squeezing the eggs from the female and then fertilizing the eggs with milt squeezed from the males. The adult fish are then returned to the water unharmed.

How Are Fish Transported?

Most fish are taken to stocking sites on trucks specifically equipped with tanks of oxygenated water. Over the course of a year, DEC stocking trucks log more than 500,000 miles. Some remote waters are stocked by airplane or helicopter.

When Are Fish Stocked?

In order to ensure the best survival for stocked fish, the various life stages of fish are stocked at different times of the year. Fingerlings (young fish three to five inches long) are generally stocked in the fall. Yearlings (older fish six to nine inches long) are stocked in the spring.

When to Plan a Hatchery Visit?

Hatcheries are informative and fun to visit any time of the year. To see what fish species are present at each hatchery, and the hatchery location and available visiting times, check the table below.

For more specific information on each hatchery, including contact information, visit the DEC Fish Hatcheries page.


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