Coursey Springs Fish Hatchery

Visit Coursey Springs Fish Hatchery

300 Hatchery Lane, Millboro, VA 24460

Coursey Springs Fish Cultural Station is nestled in a beautiful valley approximately 2 miles south of Williamsville in rural Bath County Virginia.  Bath County borders the State of West Virginia and about 1.5 hour drive north of Roanoke and a 1 hour drive west of Staunton.  Bath County does not have a traffic lights within the borders of the county.

Background

Originally constructed in the early 1960’s, CSFCS consisted of earthen raceways.  While the facility played a very important role in the Virginia hatchery system it was outdated, run down and inefficient.  An estimated 40% of the fish were lost each year due to bird predation and many design flaws provided less than optimal trout growth producing an estimated 165,000lbs of trout annually. The DGIF elected to renovate the facility with construction beginning during the summer of 2008.  The renovations were completed in the spring of 2010. The new state of the art facility draws water from the 3rd largest spring in the State of Virginia and sends it through a large oxygenation unit.  From here the water is gravity fed into 40 stainless steel circular tanks where trout have a constant current to swim against and waste is removed from the tanks within minutes.  Once the water leaves the culture tanks it goes through a series of filters and into a waste water treatment facility.  From here the water is either re-used in the culture tanks or enters Spring Run, a beautiful trout stream, where it is not uncommon to catch a trophy size brook or rainbow trout.   The new facility produces a maximum of 250,000 lbs. or about 400,000 catchable size fish currently with room to possibly increase production.

Water source/supply

CSFCS is supplied by Coursey Spring, formally known as Meadow Lake prior to the 1960’s.  Coursey Spring is reputed to be the 3rd largest spring in the Commonwealth of Virginia with a peak output of 15,000 gpm.  The flows and water temperature fluctuate seasonally due to influence from the nearby Cowpasture River.  The Cowpasture River is a sinking stream and in times of low flows sinks about 6.5 miles north of the spring.  Dye trace studies have indicated that some of that water from 6.5 miles away comes up in the spring.  Flows range from 15,000 gpm to a low of 3,000 gpm which is typically in late summer early fall.  The water temperature ranges from 57° F in the summer to a low of 47° F in the winter.

Production

Due to differences in weather from year to year the production at the CSFCS can vary.  Depending on the weather and associated rainfall CSFCS has produced between 247,000 lbs. (FY11) and 137,000 lbs. (FY14).  CSFCS is a grow-out facility and no spawning takes place.  Fingerlings are supplied by the Wytheville FCS, Marion, FCS, and Paint Bank FCS.  CSFCS raise Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout and Brook Trout.  Rainbow trout typically account for approximately 60% of the annual production by weight with Brown trout and Brook trout accounting for 20% each respectively.

Stocking

CSFCS is responsible for stocking 72 waters.  CSFCS covers 11 counties:  Alleghany, Augusta, Bath, Fauquier, Frederick, Highland, Page, Rockbridge, Rockingham, Shenandoah, and Warren.  CSFCS is also responsible for stocking 2 waters in the Urban Trout program that are located in the Cities of Hampton and Chesapeake respectively.  CSFCS also assists the Paint Bank FCS in stocking Liberty Lake in Bedford County for Heritage Day.  CSFCS annual allocation request is 179,000 pounds.

Unique programs

CSFCS participates in the Urban Trout Stocking program and has three waters in the Youth-Only Stocked Trout Program.  CSFCS has three Heritage waters and stocks another Heritage water for Paint Bank for Heritage Day, Liberty Lake- Bedford County.  CSFCS stocks four Delayed harvest and two Catch and Release waters.  No spawning occurs at the facility.  The facility is one of two “grow out” facilities in the system.  Fingerlings are received from Wytheville FCS, Marion FCS, and Paint Bank FCS.

Additional Info

CSFCS has 142 acres of creek side habitats, riparian buffers and open fields to catch a glimpse of the wildlife that call CSFCS home.  Green and great blue herons can often be found wading in shallow waters, especially in the mornings. At dawn and dusk, night herons may be more common. Belted kingfisher and otter are common around the confluence of Spring Run and the Cowpasture River.  In the summer, keep an eye out for a bald eagle or osprey searching for food. Red-tailed and red-shouldered hawks hunt the surrounding skies year-round. The more open areas surrounding the hatchery attract eastern bluebird, American goldfinch, eastern kingbird, and red-winged blackbird. Along brushy creek side areas, look for birds such as eastern phoebe and Carolina wren. Dragonflies and damselflies are a watchers delight.  Look for blue dasher, eastern pondhawk, black saddlebags, calico pennant, and common green darner.

The DGIF completed a stream restoration project on Spring Run, 2011.  The stream now compliments the hatchery with a no harvest, single hook artificial hook only trophy trout stream.  The Cowpasture River below the mouth of Spring Run has been added to the stocking list as a put and take fishery.

Hatchery Manager:  Eric Wooding

Assistant Hatchery Manager:  James “Hawk” Bartholomew

Fish Culturists:  Charles “Andy” Davis, Dennis Forbes, & Kenneth “Butch” Hall