Warmwater Fish Production & Stocking
Fish stocking is a management tool used to:
- establish sportfish in new, reclaimed, or renovated waters open to public fishing;
- supplement natural stocks where reproduction is inadequate;
- introduce new species as predators and/or to provide a trophy fishery;
- and provide immediate fishing by introducing catchable size fish.
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries operates four warmwater hatcheries (King & Queen, Front Royal, Buller, and Vic Thomas), rearing and stocking a wide variety of species including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, walleye, musky, northern pike, channel catfish, striped bass, hybrid striped bass, and American shad.
Anglers should realize that some of the major sport fisheries in Virginia today would not exist without annual stockings from hatcheries and most others are/were started by hatchery fish and then sustained by natural reproduction.
2013 Production and Stocking Information
Largemouth, Smallmouth, and Sunfish
King & Queen Hatchery produced and stocked a total of 10,000 redear sunfish fingerlings were stocked into the Powhatan Lakes (5,000 each in upper & lower). The hatchery also produced and stocked black crappie for Flannagan Reservoir in southwest VA. (Stocking Table)
A total of 125,000 F1 hybrid largemouth bass were purchased from the private sector and stocked into Back Bay in an effort to restore the bass population in the 25,000-acre water. (Stocking Table)
The Staunton River was stocked with 15,009 smallmouth bass fingerlings as part of a study to evaluate supplemental stocking as a management tool. Fingerling production took place at Front Royal hatchery. (Stocking Table)
Walleye and Saugeye
Walleye fingerlings were produced at Buller, Front Royal, King & Queen, and Vic Thomas hatcheries in 2013. Overall production of 906,990 walleye fingerlings were stocked in nine lakes and two rivers. Management of this resource and stocking priorities for walleye fingerling is overseen by a committee of regional and district biologists. Sources of walleye eggs and fry for production in 2013 were South Holston Reservoir, Colorado, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
The hatcheries also received Saugeye (cross between walleye and sauger) eggs from Colorado. Seven lakes across the state were stocked with over 480,000 fingerlings total. (Stocking Table)
8,000 fingerlings were obtained from North Carolina and stocked in ponds at Buller Hatchery for grow out to advanced-sized fingerlings. Five lakes and 3 rivers were stocked. Those muskellunge stocked in the Shenandoah River were marked as part of an investigation into the level of natural reproduction occurring in the system. (Stocking Table)
No northern pike were stocked in 2013.
Channel catfish were purchased in 2013 from the private sector with most fish distributed from Vic Thomas, Front Royal, and Buller hatcheries; 110 lakes and four rivers were stocked with one-half pound catfish in the October. A 5-year stocking plan for channel catfish, reviewed annually and adjusted to fit budgetary and logistical limitations of the hatchery system, continues to work well.
Six urban lakes in eastern Virginia were stocked with 8,175 one-pound catfish in 2013. Public utilization and angler successes continue to be evaluated to determine how the Urban Program can be improved or modified to increase recreational fishing opportunities in or near more populated areas. (Stocking Table)
Striped Bass, Hybrid Striped Bass, and White Bass
Both Chesapeake Bay (marine) and Roanoke River Strain fingerlings were stocked into public waters in 2013. Chesapeake Bay strain fry and fingerlings were produced at King & Queen Hatchery. Eight lakes were stocked with a total of 353,783 Chesapeake Bay fingerlings. Roanoke River strain stripers were produced at King and Queen and Vic Thomas hatcheries. A total of 623,990 fingerlings were stocked in Kerr, Leesville, and Smith Mt. Lake. (Stocking Table)
Hybrid striped bass were purchased from the private sector for stocking at 4 lakes. These included Carvins Cove, Claytor, Flannagan, and Hungary Mother. A total of 63,756 were stocked. (Stocking Table)
Approximately 80 white bass brood were obtained from Tennessee and stocked into South Holston Lake. (Stocking Table)
American shad egg taking efforts in the spring of 2013 marked the 19th season for such operations on the Pamunkey River and the 20th season overall since American shad restoration efforts began in 1992; 2013 was the fifth year that egg operations on the Pamunkey were contracted to a private consulting firm; strip-spawned eggs were sent to the Harrison Lake National Fish Hatchery (HLNFH). HLNFH stocked a total of 4,820,530 OTC tagged shad fry in the upper mainstem of the James River in 2013.
American shad egg taking operations were also conducted in 2013 on the Potomac River, in the vicinity of Fort Belvoir, for the Rappahannock River Shad Restoration effort. Eggs collected from the Potomac were also taken to HLNFH. The majority of fry production was stocked into the upper mainstem of the Rappahannock River (4,332,721) and Potomac River (394,690). (Stocking Table)