Coolwater Hatcheries


Located in the North Carolina foothills 10 miles north of Morganton, Table Rock State Fish Hatchery is a coolwater hatchery consisting of 17 ponds covering 9.25 acres of water, a flowing water flume line for holding trout, and indoor hatching and rearing facilities. In winter months, water temperatures at Table Rock are not as cold as water temperatures at our mountain trout hatcheries - thus the distinction between coolwater and coldwater hatcheries. The hatchery's water supply from Irish Creek provides suitable water quality for raising a wide variety of fish species - from channel catfish to trout. Table Rock is used primarily for raising fingerling smallmouth bass, walleye and muskellunge to be stocked into public lakes and rivers of western North Carolina.

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission built the Table Rock Hatchery in 1946.

Hatchery Operations
In early spring, Table Rock is used as a distribution center for stocking catchable trout in the northwestern counties of the state. Up to 60,000 brook, brown and rainbow trout are held at Table Rock during the winter for final grow-out before stocking in public trout waters in early March. Trout stocking at Table Rock is completed by May, when water temperatures become too warm to sustain trout. Walleye from a captive broodstock are spawned at the hatchery in late March and moved to grow-out ponds in April. They are released in receiving waters in May as two- to three-inch "fingerlings." Smallmouth bass spawn at the hatchery in April and are grown until June when they are two inches in length. Muskellunge also spawn in April and are grown throughout the summer and stocked as juveniles in October. The average stocking size for muskie is 12 inches or larger. Large amounts of forage fish, mostly fathead minnows and goldfish, are raised at Table Rock to feed muskellunge fingerlings and bass and walleye broodstock. During summer months, Table Rock also participates in stocking channel catfish for the Community Fishing Program.

Additional Information
Table Rock has participated in research programs designed to evaluate techniques for spawning walleye and marking the hatchery-produced fingerlings. These techniques are critical for field evaluations of the success of stocking programs. The public is welcome to tour the hatchery on weekdays or use the picnic grounds any day during normal working hours, 8a.m. - 4p.m., on weekdays. Free tours for groups can be arranged by calling ahead and scheduling with hatchery personnel. For more information, write to Table Rock State Fish Hatchery, 3419 - Fish Hatchery Ave., Morganton, N.C. 28655 or call (828) 437-3977.