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.
2009 Production and Stocking Information
Largemouth, Smallmouth, and Sunfish
Of two lakes scheduled to receive 13,400 bluegill in 2009, one request was cancelled and 10,329 bluegill produced at King and Queen hatchery were stocked in the second lake. Hybrid bluegill (1,200 fingerlings) were purchased for stocking of a third lake. Requests made for 18,875 redear sunfish in five lakes were largely completed in November of 2008 with 29,090 redear fingerlings stocked in three of the five lakes. The remaining two requests for redear were cancelled. (Stocking Table)
A second year's effort at increasing production of largemouth in lined ponds at King and Queen was successful with 120,032 fingerlings stocked using broodfish collected from the hatchery's water supply lakes and the Chickahominy River. The request for three inch fish at Lee Hall Lake was not met with only 3,722 of the 5,750 fish stocked, all other allocations were met. Surplus largemouth fingerlings were stocked in urban lakes in the Richmond area, Back Bay, and the Chickahominy River. An additional 30,455 largemouth fingerlings received as surplus from North Carolina were also stocked in Back Bay. The division did elect to purchase 21,125 F1 hybrids for stocking Briery Creek Lake. (Stocking Table)
Three river systems were scheduled to receive 56,000 smallmouth bass fingerlings as part of a study to evaluate supplemental stocking as a management tool. Fingerling production for this project took place at Vic Thomas, Buller, and Front Royal hatcheries. A joint effort by hatchery and field staff to target manpower at hatcheries during critical periods spawning and fry swim up was successful in increasing numbers of smallmouth fry collected for pond production. All allocations were met with a total production of 71,791 fingerlings (stocked in 3 rivers), a marked increase over past production efforts. (Stocking Table)
Walleye fingerlings were produced at Buller, Front Royal, King & Queen, and Vic Thomas hatcheries in 2009. Overall production of 737,443 walleye fingerlings (stocked in 13 lakes and 2 rivers) was below the original request of 1,237,975. Management of this resource and stocking priorities for walleye fingerling is overseen by a committee of regional and district biologist. Sources of walleye eggs for 2009 production included the New River and South Holston Reservoir. (Stocking Table)
Production of muskellunge for 2009 was assigned to Buller and Front Royal hatcheries. Efforts to collect brood muskellunge form the wild failed. An early shipment of muskellunge egg from Iowa hatched in transit; ponds were eventually stocked using fry obtained from West Virginia. Four (4) lakes and four (4) rivers were stocked with 6,928 fingerlings. Using contingency plans developed for periods of low production, muskellunge fingerlings were allocated to waters according to a predetermined priority. The numbers of muskellunge requested for the New and James rivers were reduced with fewer, larger fish produced and marked as part of a plan to investigate natural reproduction. (Stocking Table)
Six (6) lakes were scheduled to receive 3,460 northern pike fingerlings. Efforts to collect northern pike brood from the wild failed. Opportunities with-in the state and effort required for collection of adult northern pike will be re-evaluated for the 2010 production year as the division continues it's efforts to become self sufficient in all aspects of cool-water production. (Stocking Table)
Channel catfish stocked in 2009 were purchased from the private sector with most fish re-distributed from Vic Thomas, Front Royal and Buller hatcheries. One hundred twenty-four (124) bodies of water were stocked with 85,206 catfish. A 5- year stocking plan for channel catfish continues to work well. Budgetary and logistical limitations of the hatchery system related to purchasing, manpower, and distribution have been successfully addressed through this plan.
Five (5) lakes included in the Agency's Urban Fishing Program were stocked in May and June with 7,250 one-pound catfish purchased from a private vendor. Public utilization and angler successes continue to be evaluated to determine how this program can be improved or modified to increase recreational fishing opportunities in or near the states more densely populated areas. (Stocking Table)
Striped Bass and Hybrid Striped Bass
Both Chesapeake Bay (marine) and Roanoke River Strain fingerlings were stocked into public waters in 2009. Chesapeake Bay strain fry and fingerlings were produced at King and Queen Hatchery. Seven (7) lakes within the Chesapeake Bay drainage were stocked with 401,342 fingerlings. Claytor Lake, originally scheduled to receive Roanoke River fingerlings, was stocked with 69,958 Chesapeake Bay strain fish. (Stocking Table)
Roanoke River strain fry were produced at Vic Thomas Hatchery and fingerling production was carried out at Vic Thomas, Edenton NFH, Harrison Lake NFH, and King & Queen Hatchery. The four hatcheries produced 1,203,626 striped bass fingerlings that were stocked into four (4) reservoirs. (Stocking Table)
Hybrid striped bass for Claytor Lake (41,070), Flannagan Reservoir (24,750), and Hungry Mother Lake (2,430) were obtained from Watha State Hatchery as 1.25" to 1.75" original cross (? striped bass x ? white bass) in June of 2009. Previous hybrid fingerlings for the three lakes have been 2.50" reciprocal cross purchased from private vendors, with delivery in August at a cost of $12,000.00 to $13,000.00. All stockings of hybrid striped bass stockings will be monitored and compared to determine if their may be significant differences in performance of reciprocal vs. original crosses. Concerns have also been expressed on size variations and June vs. August stockings. White bass stockings were cancelled as a source of genetically viable brood have not been located. (Stocking Table)
American shad egg taking efforts in the spring of 2009 marked the fifteenth season for such operations on the Pamunkey River and the seventeenth season overall since American shad restoration efforts began in 1992. However, 2009 was the first year that egg operations on the Pamunkey were contracted to a private consulting firm; this firm conducted gill netting efforts 19 nights during the period April 2nd - April 27th. Strip-spawning yielded a total of 10,870,903 eggs, that were all sent to the Harrison Lake National Fish Hatchery (HLNFH). HLNFH stocked a total of 3,798,344 OTC tagged shad fry in the upper mainstem of the James River at three locations: Hardware WMA, Scottsville, and Columbia.
American shad egg taking operations were also conducted in 2009 on the Potomac River in the vicinity of Fort Belvoir for 16 days between April 16th and May 15th. Eggs collected from this river system were used to stock the Rappahannock River. A total of 7,075,068 eggs were obtained and taken to HLNFH; total fry production was 3,246,493. The majority of these fry were stocked into the upper mainstem of the Rappahannock River (2,718,293) at the Kelly's Ford Boat Landing. A total of 528,200 shad fry were released into the Potomac River mainstem in the vicinity of Pohick Bay, to compensate for brood stock losses. (Stocking Table)
Threadfin Shad were purchased from American Sportsfish and stocked in Fluvanna Ruritan Lake (5,000), Hunting Run Lake (40,000), and Orange Lake (5,000) to supplement forage for largemouth bass. These stockings were approved by the Largemouth Bass Committee as part of the "Quality Bass Management Program". (Stocking Table)