Roaring River Hatchery ready for opening day

Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Caleb Beuterbaugh, resource assistant at the Roaring River Hatchery and Trout Park, moves a group of fish into a pool as he and other hatchery staff prepare to extract their eggs and spawn the fish that will be used to stock Roaring River about two years from now. Kyle Troutman/

About 8,000 fish to be stocked for March 1 anglers

The Roaring River Hatchery and Trout Park is gearing up for Roaring River Opening Day, ready to stock the river with about 8,000 fish for incoming anglers.

Paul Spurgeon, manager at the hatchery, said the 12-1/2-inch trout have been growing at the hatchery for about two years, and the river will be stocked at a rate of three fish per fisherman.

"We raise these fish year-round, so we have about 265,000 ready to go for this season," he said. "They range from about six inches to 12-1/2 inches, and the smaller ones will keep growing until they reach the goal size of 12-1/2 inches, and we'll stock those every month."

Spurgeon said the hatchery is anticipating upwards of 2,600 anglers on March 1, and it has been cleared to stock the fish at a rate of three per fisherman, meaning about 8,000 fish will start flooding into the river during the week leading up to opening day.

"We base our stocking on the anticipated number of tags sold," he said. "During the season, we stock about 2-1/4 fish per tag, and we've been pretty good with our estimations. Last year, we stocked at a rate of 2.35 fish per tag. Stocking on Opening Day will highly depend on the weather and how many people show up, so we will adjust our plans as needed as it gets closer."

Spurgeon said the hatchery stocks the fish nightly from March 1 to Oct. 31, hitting 33 different spots along the river. Stocking on opening day will also include about 100 lunkers, which are fish that weigh from three pounds to six pounds.

Spurgeon said the hatchery has also been busy making cosmetic and habitat improvements to the river, including repairing the baffle dams and starting a new project involving boulder clusters as habitats.

"We have had a couple major floods over the past three years, and the baffle dams that create the pools have been damaged, so we've had to roll some rocks back into place to keep the pools level," he said. "In the catch and release area, we've placed some large boulders in clusters to create scour holes, which are little pockets behind the boulders to protect the fish when the water is running fast. There is not a lot of cover in the catch and release area, and they are very shallow, so the fish aren't staying there. So, we've started this pilot project, and we'll do another phase next year after we see how this year goes."

Roaring River Opening Day is March 1, with the fishing set to begin at 6:30 a.m.

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