AGFC begins major hatchery renovation in Northeast Arkansas

Published: Sep. 25, 2021 at 12:12 PM CDT
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MAMMOTH SPRING, Ark. - Major renovations are coming to a popular hatchery in Fulton County.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission celebrated a successful partnership with trout anglers Friday, Sept. 24, to begin major renovations to the Jim Hinkle Spring River Fish Hatchery in Mammoth Spring.

The hatchery is the only state-owned fish hatchery in Arkansas devoted to the production of trout. According to AGFC Director Austin Booth, trout from the hatchery provide fishing opportunities for a much larger area than the Spring River.

“Fish from this hatchery not only go to 140 miles of trout tailwater,” Booth said. “They also go into 42 locations around the state for little boys and little girls to fish in ponds in their communities and catch beautiful trout.”

The hatchery once was able to supply up to half of the 2 million rainbow trout stocked annually in the state, with the remaining trout coming from the federal hatcheries. But over the years, the hatchery has seen wear and tear.

While regular maintenance and a renovation on the dam that controls water going into the hatchery has kept much of the infrastructure operational, many larger components, including the facility’s metal silos, are in need of replacement.

AGFC Assistant Hatchery Manager B.J. Vandiver said some of the metal silos had to be taken completely out of production for safety concerns.

“The metal has corroded over the years so much that we were seeing holes form in the sides of the tanks,” Vandiver said. “When we harvest trout, we have to climb down in the tanks, and you could see where some of the metal was beginning to buckle and groundwater from around the tank was seeping back in. We just had to take them offline.”

The renovation will replace those old metal silos with round concrete tanks which should last much longer. Water supply and discharge systems also will be remodeled to use water more efficiently and promote a cleaner environment for the fish.

Once complete, the hatchery should be able to regain its former production levels of 1 million trout per year.

The renovations are projected to cost $6.7 million. Thanks to the support of trout anglers and local stakeholders, the AGFC were able to generate an additional $2.06 million toward the renovation. Additional funds to meet that goal were approved by the Commission at its July meeting.

During his address at the ground-breaking ceremony, AGFC Chairman Bobby Martin said more than $180 million is generated annually to the economies of towns near Arkansas’ famous trout-fishing destinations, with much of that revenue coming from tourists.

“If you’re a trout angler, this place is on your bucket list,” Martin said. “We’re very proud to be here today and make this announcement that we know will benefit not only the anglers, but the people of Arkansas.”

You can view the announcement ceremony on the AGFC Facebook page.

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