Here is What Happens at the Hatcheries
Since 1922 the Arizona Game and Fish Department has operated 15 fish hatcheries, six of which are still maintained. Five of these fish hatcheries are used for cold water production and play a major role in providing trout fishing opportunities in Arizona. The sixth hatchery is dedicated to warm water fish production. Almost all of the trout harvested in Arizona are stocked from our hatcheries. Every year, Department fish hatcheries contribute to the state economy by producing on average 385,000 pounds of fish, which equates to over 3 million fish that are stocked into 118 locations throughout the state. These fish hatcheries are destination facilities for bird watchers and the general public as well. Thousands of tourists annually visit the hatcheries to learn about the fisheries program and the Department’s mission.
Cottonwood/ Sedona area hatcheries
Payson area hatcheries
Show Low/ Pinetop area hatchery
More on Hatcheries
How many species of trout are produced in Arizona State fish hatcheries? If you said seven, you’re right. Arizona hatcheries produce seven species of trout for anglers to enjoy: rainbow, brown, brook, tiger, cutthroat, and Arizona’s native Apache and Gila trout.
Hatchery fish are raised from eggs which are imported from other federal, state, or private hatcheries in the nation. Most fish are raised to catchable size before stocking, which is a targeted size of 9.5 inches. However, some lakes have abundant natural food and thus, are stocked with smaller fish such as fingerlings (3 inches) or “sub-catchables” (6 inches). Over time the smaller fish then grow to harvestable size within the lake.
Most hatcheries have specific areas within Arizona where they stock, although there is some overlapping of waters. Five of these hatcheries, Page Springs, Canyon Creek, Tonto Creek, Silver Creek and Sterling Spring feature various trout species. The Bubbling Ponds Hatchery focuses on Arizona’s native fish such as razorback sucker, Colorado pikeminnow, and roundtail chub which is a native sportfish, but the hatchery also produces a small number of Trout, Florida Largemouth Bass and Bluegill. Our smallest hatchery, Sterling Springs (which is open to the public by appointment only due to difficult access), specializes in hatching the trout eggs and raising them to fingerling size for transfer to Page Springs Hatchery.
Raising trout is a public service supported not from income taxes, but exclusively from revenues generated by anglers under the “user pay, user benefit” system. When you buy fishing poles, reels, creels, lures, flies and artificial baits a small portion of the cost goes to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sportfish Restoration Program. Your purchase of a fishing license is then used in combination with those Sportfish Restoration funds to pay for fish stocking efforts and keep the tradition of fishing alive.
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