Most trout hatcheries are located in cooler climates, like in the northern states, so I was a little surprised to learn there was a trout hatchery near Branson in Missouri. I thought I’d give the place a closer look – as do nearly a thousand people each day
The Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery sits along the water’s edge of Lake Taneycomo at the base of the immense Table Rock Dam. It’s because of the construction of Table Rock Dam that a trout fishing environment exists in Lake Taneycomo. The dam mostly drains the cooler water from the base of Table Rock Lake into Lake Taneycomo, creating cool water conducive to trout habitat and, as such, a popular trout fishery.
As you enter the hatchery, you’ll see a large variety of informational displays about the trout raised here, as well as an information desk that deals with questions you might have. There’s a massive tank displaying large rainbow and brown trout of the type that are raised in this hatchery. It’s quite interesting to watch the fish close up.
As you exit the visitor center, you enter the pool-area where trout are hatched and raised. There are egg incubation pools, 12 raising raceways, and 20 mature fish raceways. After the fish have adequately grown and matured, they are released into wild waters. Visitors can hand-feed the small hungry fish and enjoy the outdoors as they explore the pools of the hatchery.
Tours are at times available and show visitors the trout production processes, including egg incubation, tank and pond maintenance. Eighty percent of fish production from this hatchery goes into Lake Taneycomo. The remainder of the fish are stocked into other Missouri trout waters. The Shepherd Hill Fish Hatchery raises and releases more than 1 million trout each year.
The park and hatchery cover over 200 acres of which 84 acres are currently developed. Besides the Conservation Center there are hiking trails near the dam area, and lake-side activities such as trout fishing, and more.
When you visit:
Admission is free and the hatchery is open year-round, although it is closed on state holidays. Guided tours are available at certian times, and you can always do self-guided tours as we did.
For hours and additional information, please consult the hatchery website.
I enjoyed our visit, which lasted about an hour. I think it would especially be fun to explore the hatchery with children.
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