Hatchery raises trout to stock state's ponds, rivers, lakes

December 02, 2003|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

BEAVER CREEK - Ponds, rivers and lakes from here to the Eastern Shore are stocked with half-pound rainbow trout from Washington County.

The Albert M. Powell State Fish Hatchery is a quiet operation across Md. 66 from a park and ride, just north of Interstate 70.

For the last 56 years, it has taken in trout eggs, raised them and sent them across Maryland for fishermen to catch.


About 50 percent of the state's trout originate at the Powell Hatchery, as part of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources' Hatcheries and Finfish Restoration program. Fishing license fees and taxes on fishing equipment cover the cost of operating the Powell Hatchery. It does not receive money from the state's general fund budget.

Manager Wade Moore has worked at the hatchery for 30 years. He started there part time when he was 12 years old.

His father, Roger Moore, worked at the hatchery for 30 years. Roger Moore was manager from 1978 until he retired in 1987, when Wade took over.

Wade Moore said he considers his work to be satisfying. "There's a certain reward taking a product from an egg to an adult," he said.

There's also the joy of seeing a child catching a fish, a child that might not get many opportunities otherwise. The Powell Hatchery supplies trout for youth fishing rodeos sponsored by rod and gun clubs, Boy Scout troops, the Elks and other groups.

Not long ago, 25 to 30 inner-city Frederick, Md., children had fun catching Powell Hatchery fish at a pond in Thurmont, Md., Moore said.

He pointed at a photo under glass on his desk. A boy who looked to be about 10 years old was grinning as he held up two fish for the camera.

"I mean, who can not like that picture?" Moore said.

The hatchery buys about 650,000 eggs a year from Troutlodge Inc. in Sumner, Wash.

The eggs are placed in incubators, about 10,000 per tray. Water flows through the trays at 5 gallons per minute.

Moore said the eggs are "eyed" - the eyes are visible. This means the eggs are partly developed and hatch into fingerlings faster.

Fingerlings are moved to rearing troughs, which are also inside. Each trough can hold about 30,000 developing fish.

After six to 12 weeks, fish are transferred to outside concrete canals known as raceways.

Water from Beaver Creek, which feeds the operation, has an average temperature of 54 degrees and a flow of 3,000 gallons per minute.

Raising fish is about a 16-month process, Moore said.

Ten percent of the fish are kept for two years, allowing them to grow to one pound.

A couple of raceways off to the side hold fish that will be kept three or four years before they're released. They'll weigh between four and five pounds.

"These are a bonus," Moore said.

One trophy fish is added to each tank that leaves the Powell Hatchery for stocking elsewhere.

Rainbow trout are sent to 13 bodies of water in Washington County and 14 in Frederick County, as well as to spots in Carroll, Baltimore, Howard, Montgomery, Cecil and other counties.

Most streams, lakes and ponds are designated "put and take." Fishermen may keep up to five trout per day.

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