The department operates four hatcheries located at Farlington, Meade, Milford, and Pratt and a rearing pond at Woodson State Fishing Lake. Each contributes in its own way to supply the varied needs of Kansas anglers. This system produces approximately 39.5 million fry, 3.5 million fingerling, and 385,000 intermediate fish for stocking in Kansas public waters annually. Species included bluegill, channel catfish, crappie, largemouth bass, northern pike, rainbow trout, redear sunfish, sauger, saugeye, smallmouth bass, striped bass, wiper, and walleye.
On June 30, 1903, Pratt County donated l2 acres of land for a fish hatchery two miles east and one mile south of Pratt. In 1905, three additional acres were donated, and the legislature appropriated $8,400 for the hatchery. At that time, the hatchery building was constructed, and the hatchery consisted of seven ponds.
The hatchery was expanded almost to its present configuration in 1912 and 1913 with the construction of a new headquarters office, numerous operational buildings, and 83 additional one-acre fish production ponds. At that time, it was the largest fish hatchery in the United States.
THE HATCHERY TODAY
Today, the Department of Wildlife and Parks' Operations Office and Wildlife Museum share the grounds with the hatchery, and many visitors tour the facilities each year.
If the body of the hatchery consists of the ponds where fish are raised, the Hatchery Building is its heart. Nicknamed the "Fish House," this is where fry are artificially hatched, treated for disease, and readied for stocking or rearing ponds.
Presently, the hatchery grounds consist of 87 culture ponds and two concrete raceways. The primary water supply for the hatchery is a shallow five- acre reservoir on the Ninnescah River at the east edge of Pratt's Lemon Park. With the supplemental help of two wells, the hatchery is capable of running 3,000 gallons of water per minute through the gravity-flow system. Water flows continuously through the hatchery and back into the Ninnescah, giving the facility high quality water.
Fish species raised at the Pratt Hatchery include walleye, wiper ( white bass/ striped bass hybrid), sauger, saugeye ( walleye/sauger hybrid), largemouth bass, channel catfish, and bluegill. Brood fish and forage fish are maintained in the ponds.
Watch a video on the Pratt Hatchery
The Milford Fish Hatchery is a state-of-the-art facility and one of only a few warm water, "intensive-culture" fish hatcheries in the country. Its objective is the rearing of sport fish for the more than 300,000 Kansas anglers.
The hatchery is one of four department hatcheries in the state. The older facilities at Pratt, Meade, and Farlington use an "extensive" system of fish culture in which earthen ponds are used for hatching and rearing. The Milford Fish Hatchery uses an "intensive" system in which eggs are hatched in small containers, and fish are grown in fiberglass tanks and concrete raceways. The Milford Hatchery also has six one-acre plastic lined ponds that are used to raise fish. Some advantages are that more fish can be raised in less water and the health of the fish can be monitored daily.
Construction of the hatchery was completed in January, 1985, at a total cost of $4.5 million. The Milford Hatchery was financed by money from fishing license fees. The majority of the funding was provided by a $3.00 hatchery fee added to the cost of a regular fishing license.
The Farlington Fish Hatchery is north of Girard in Crawford County. Construction of this facility began in 1939, was interrupted by World War II, and was finished shortly after the war. Thirty earthen ponds provide more than 32 surface acres of water, which is supplied by Crawford State Fishing Lake.
THE HATCHERY TODAY
The hatchery produces channel catfish, blue catfish, largemouth bass, redear sunfish, hybrid sunfish, striped bass, striped bass hybrids, walleye, sauger, saugeye, and grass carp. In addition to the hatchery, the Farlington staff also oversee production of channel catfish at Woodson Rearing Pond, located about 65 miles west at Woodson State Fishing Lake near Toronto.
The Farlington Fish Hatchery has undergone several renovation projects since 1989. Among these are a new "fish house" used for hatching, sorting and holding fish, rebuilding of some pond dikes to reduce leaks and construction of new water control structures and harvest "kettles".
Tours are available by prior arrangement by calling (620) 362-4166. April and June are the best times to find a variety of fish in the fish house. Most fish are reared in ponds and are not readily viewable.
Watch a video on Farlington Hatchery
Meade Fish Rearing Station is located 8 miles south and 5 miles west of Meade in Meade County Kansas. This Department owned complex of 1,244 acres encompasses Meade State Park and Fishing Lake, Meade Wildlife Area and Meade Fish Rearing Station. Meade Fish Rearing Station is the only hatchery in southwest Kansas.
ABOUT THE HATCHERY
Initially constructed in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, the hatchery now consists of seven ESS-13 lined ponds covering 10.9 surface acres holding a volume of 28.7 acre feet of water. The term ESS-13 relates to a soil sealant that has been applied to the soil in our ponds to prevent seepage. Meade Fish Rearing Station is the first hatchery in the nation that has used this technique to seal ponds. Additional construction began in the winter of 2002 to finish lining the remaining twelve ponds. When this project is complete Meade will have a total of nineteen ponds. Water for the hatchery ponds and Meade Lake is pumped from a 10” well that flows 1,500 gallons a minute.
Hatchery buildings at Meade include an Adobe office/workshop/auxiliary living quarters that was constructed in 1933. The hatchery manager resides on station in a two-story frame house that was constructed in 1918. Other buildings present at this facility include a 25’ x 50’ metal storage building constructed in 1983. The hatchery also has a cinder block fish house located in the park that contains four 700 gallon holding tanks and a walleye egg hatching unit.
Fish species cultured at the Meade facility include; intermediate channel catfish, hybrid sunfish, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye and grass carp. In recent years a program has been initiated for the establishment of a northern strain of native Kansas largemouth bass.