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Head to the Hatcheries for June Open Houses

Saturday, June 1st, 2019

By Dr. Peter Brookes

Photos by Meghan Marchetti, DWR

You gotta hatch ‘em to catch ‘em.

That’s certainly one of the reasons the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) maintains a robust network of fish hatcheries to keep Virginia’s waters teeming with rainbow, brook and brown trout.

As I noted in a previous blog, a lot of hard work goes into spawning, hatching and stocking our streams, rivers and lakes with a variety of fish—not just trout—for the enjoyment of Virginia’s outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen.

And as it turns out, now is an terrific time to visit a DWR trout hatchery to learn about the raising and stocking of this fabulous fish: DWR’s five, cold-water trout hatcheries will be holding Open Houses on Saturday, June 1st from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM.

These annual Open Houses provide an outstanding opportunity to learn how stocked brown, rainbow and brook trout get from the hatchery to Virginia’s waters to—hopefully—the end of your fishing line.

Indeed, what a great way to pique a child’s interest not only in science, but in the great outdoors.

A field trip to meet with the DWR’s hatchery specialists, tour facilities and see specialized equipment, such as a stocking truck and an electrofishing boat, could be just what that overly-enthusiastic science teacher at your child’s school ordered.

No promises, but feel free to ask for extra credit in biology!

I mean, what kid wouldn’t love the opportunity to learn more about the world of spawning, hatching and raising fish—followed by the chance to throw some fish food at a hatchery holding-pond brimming with trout?

Of course, you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy seeing science and conservation at work. So why not make plans for a day trip to the country with the family and or friends to check out one of these DWR trout hatchery Open Houses?

Marion Trout Hatchery: The Marion Trout Hatchery, located in the town of Marion in Smyth County, is the oldest of the DWR’s trout culture facilities at some 100 years. Trout raised here are stocked in the waters of far southwest Virginia. Learn more »

Wytheville Trout Hatchery: The Wytheville Trout Hatchery is near Max Meadows in Wythe County. This facility spawns, hatches and raises trout for stocking in the waters of southwest Virginia. Learn more »

Paint Bank Trout Hatchery: The Paint Bank Trout Hatchery is near Paint Bank in Craig County. Its trout are considered so hearty that they’re sought after from across the country as part of the National Broodstock Program. Its fish are stocked in western and central Virginia. Learn more »

The Montebello Fish Hatchery is a small log cabin and adjoining fish farm that hosts numerous visitors and school group tours throughout the year.

Montebello Fish Hatchery hosts numerous visitors and school group tours throughout the year. In addition to trout, there is a nature trail and pollinator plots located on the property.

Montebello Fish Cultural Station: The Montebello Fish Cultural Station near Montebello in Nelson County is the smallest and one of the oldest DWR hatcheries alongside Marion. Located near the Blue Ridge Parkway, Montebello trout are stocked east of the Blue Ridge Mountains in central Virginia. Learn more »

Coursey Spring Fish Cultural Station: The Coursey Springs Fish Cultural Station near Williamsville in Bath County is the DWR’s largest—and one of its newest—trout stations. Trout from Coursey Springs go to the streams west of the Blue Ridge Mountains in western and northern Virginia. Learn more »

Interested in attending a hatchery open house? Visit our Facebook Event page and let us know! We’ll publish open house updates and event details as we get closer to June 1st.

Due to a strong demand for getting brooks, browns and rainbows into Virginia waters for our anglers, trout are reared 24/7/365 in all of the Old Dominion’s trout hatcheries to support the DWR’s now-nearly year-round stocking program.

DWR stocks more than one million trout every year—if you can believe it.

Besides seeing how hatcheries operate and meeting DWR technicians and aquatic biologists, I’m betting that a visit to one (or more) of the hatcheries will put you in the mood for wetting a line in one of Virginia’s cool, clear trout streams.

In fact, a few days after these hatcheries hold their Open Houses, DWR is offering its annual Free Fishing Days.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, June 7-9, 2019, no fishing license—yes, I said, no license— is needed to fish the Commonwealth’s fresh or salt waters for trout or the many other species that inhabit our wonderful waters.

It’s a great excuse to get outside with the rod and reel on a late spring weekend to start, return to, or, better yet, introduce someone—like a friend or child—to the wonderful Virginia tradition of angling.

Indeed, I can’t think of a better activity to get hooked on this time of year than fishing.

Learn More

Interested in Attending a Hatchery Open House?

Visit our Facebook Event page and let us know! We’ll publish open house updates and event details as we get closer to June 1st.


Dr. Peter Brookes is a DC foreign policy geek by day and an award-winning, Virginia outdoor writer by night.

  • May 13, 2019