Fish hatcheries an educational experience

Reel Time
This week I want to mention things that you can do that may not start with a fishing rod in your hand, but are all fishing related. I would like to thank those folks that came out and helped Bluenose Coastal Action Foundation staff capture and recapture small mouth bass and chain pickerel for their recent study. It was a great day.

Did you know that there are three fish hatcheries in Nova Scotia that grow trout, salmon and whitefish for various reasons? Not only do these hatcheries grow fish for our restocking programs, but they are also used to ensure that the gene pools for our native salmon and whitefish are preserved.

There is a lot to growing fish from an egg to adulthood, and I want you to know you can visit each of these hatcheries and learn more about the process. All three hatcheries have interpretative centres at them, and in most cases, a tour can be arranged as well. One of the hatcheries, at MacGowen Lake, is in our area and is found off Route 8 in the community of Caledonia.

Hatchery overview
1. McGowan Lake Hatchery — The McGowan Lake Hatchery, built in 1987, has helped to ensure the future of trout fishing in western Nova Scotia, a region with many acid-stressed lakes and streams. This hatchery utilizes a unique water treatment facility and an oxygen generation and injection system to rear one million speckled trout which are released annually as fry, fall fingerlings and yearlings.

2. Fraser’s Mills Hatchery — The site has outdoor raceways and circular ponds, as well as a hatchery building and broodstock development facility. Four species of salmonids are reared at this hatchery; speckled (brook) trout, brown trout, rainbow trout and landlocked salmon. It is the only trout broodstock (adult parent fish) facility in the province, with several thousand broodstock maintained on this site. This hatchery distributes about 500,000 to 700,000 fish annually.

3. Margaree Fish Hatchery — First opened in 1902, the Margaree Hatchery has been supporting the local salmon and trout fishery for over a century, as well as attracting visitors to the scenic Margaree Valley. The Margaree Hatchery provides about 150,000 salmon parr and smolt, and 100,000 trout at various stages primarily for stocking into the Margaree River and local watersheds, as stated by the Government of Nova Scotia’s website. If you cannot get out to a hatchery for a visit, you can take a video tour at the Government of Nova Scotia’s website at

I also want to let you know about a radio show that a friend of mine, Mark Wear, hosts on CKBW each weekend that has a lot of tips and information on fishing called The First Cast which airs 7:20 a.m. on Saturdays and 9:15 a.m. on Sundays.

Even if you do not participate in a bass tournament, it can be fun to watch the weigh-in. Most tournaments end at 2 p.m., and then the fun begins. Cheer on your favourite team and stay to see who wins. How much did the lunker weight? Who placed in the tournament? Were there some mishaps? Do both men and women compete? Buy a 50-50 ticket? It is all in good fun and you can see the enthusiasm of the teams and also the friendships displayed. See you there!

Upcoming bass tournaments include the South Shore Bassmasters tournament on Molega Lake on Sunday, Aug. 12.

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