By Josh Boyd
No matter your fishing pursuit of choice, there are numerous destinations that should be on any angler’s “must-visit” list. For avid trout anglers, few such destinations are as significant as Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery. This federal hatchery, located in Jamestown, Kentucky, produces approximately 1-million brown, brook, cutthroat, and rainbow trout for stocking on an annual basis.
Visitors to the Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery are offered an inside look at all which goes into such monumental stocking efforts, and are able to take part in guided tours of the facility. Excellent trout fishing opportunities also await those who visit the hatchery.
Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery was constructed in 1975, and is funded on an annual basis by federal tax dollars. Throughout its history, this hatchery has raised numerous species of trout, from egg stage to appropriate stocking size. These trout are then distributed to various bodies of water, where regular stocking is used to sustain local trout populations.
Wolf Creek Hatchery receives fertilized trout eggs, which have reached the eyed stage. These eggs make their way to the hatchery by way of overnight shipping, and are immediately disinfected upon arrival to prevent the spread of disease. Eggs are then placed into specialized jars, where they will hatch 10-14 days later.
Once fry emerge from their eggs, they are transferred to rearing tanks, where they remain until their yolk sacs have been absorbed. When this process has concluded, fry are fed specialized feed on an hourly basis, until reaching two-inches in length. It is at this point when fingerling trout are moved to outside raceway containment areas, where further nourishment is provided to promote growth to full stocking size.
What to See and Do
Those who visit Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery are afforded the opportunity to witness much of the facility’s day to day operations, in a first-hand manner. Numerous educational opportunities also exist for those who wish to learn more about trout stocking efforts.
Visitors can check out the hatchery’s Environmental Education Center, or take a self-guided tour of the hatchery’s facility during normal hours of operation. Additionally, scheduled guided tours are also conducted, offering additional insight into all that is unique and interesting regarding the facility’s daily functions.
One can also visit the hatchery’s stocking raceways, where trout of nearly every perceivable size and type are held, until their eventual release into the wild. For an amazing sight, be sure to
check out the hatchery’s specialty raceway, which is sectioned off to hold numerous trophy-sized trout of every variety.
Aside from the facility’s outflow creek, a wealth of angling opportunity awaits all who visit Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery. The hatchery is located at the tailwaters of Kentucky’s famed Lake Cumberland, meaning that ample fishing access can be found only minutes away, on the lake body, as well as the Cumberland River itself.
Fishing Hatchery Creek
Adjacent to the hatchery’s main building and visitor center sits Hatchery Creek, a small flowing stream that serves as a spillway of sorts for the facility itself, which eventually flows into the Cumberland River. Trout are stocked into Hatchery Creek multiple times a week, offering excellent fishing for those who visit the area.
The creek’s uppermost section allows anglers to keep trout that they have caught, up to a maximum daily limit of five fish. It is permissible to use both live and artificial bait when fishing this section of the creek. Those intending to fish the upper expanses of this body of water should keep in mind that crowding can occur on weekends, and during peak visiting hours.
The lower end of Hatchery Creek is reserved solely for the use of artificial lures, and is strictly catch and release in nature. This area provides some of the creek’s highest potential for catching trophy sized trout, which travel upstream annually from the Cumberland River.
Anyone fishing Hatchery Creek should be properly licensed to do so. Anglers fishing in the area are required to possess a Kentucky fishing license, as well as a Kentucky trout permit. Such permits can be purchased at https://fw.ky.gov/Licenses/Pages/Fees.aspx
A Trout Angler’s Paradise
Whether you enjoy wading streams with a fly rod in hand, or love to pursue a limit of keeper size brook trout with light spinning gear, Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery is a destination worthy of your attention. You will be able to learn about the facility’s operations, and view fish bound for future stocking, while maybe even catching a trophy size trout in the process.