McKinney Lake State Fish Hatchery
This hatchery provides channel catfish exclusively for the state's public waters.
This hatchery provides striped bass, striped bass hybrids, channel catfish and largemouth bass for the state's public waters.
MCKINNEY LAKE STATE FISH HATCHERY (Richmond County)
Located in Hoffman between Southern Pines and Rockingham, the McKinney Lake State Fish Hatchery is a warmwater hatchery featuring 23 ponds covering more than 18 acres of water. This hatchery is used primarily for growing fingerling-sized (3-4 inches) channel catfish to harvestable size (8-12 inches) for the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission's Community Fishing Program. It works in conjunction with the Watha State Fish Hatchery near Wilmington to provide monthly stockings of channel catfish from April through September at 30 Community Fishing Program sites statewide.
In the past, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service operated the McKinney Lake Hatchery and produced striped bass and other warmwater fish species at this facility. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission leased the facility in 1996 and began stocking channel catfish from the McKinney Lake Hatchery in March 1998.
Channel catfish are spawned at the Watha Hatchery, and the fry are raised there until they reach "fingerling" size (3-4 inches). These fingerling channel catfish are then transported to the McKinney Lake Hatchery where employees feed and care for the fish in 0.8-acre ponds for about one year until they reach the "harvestable" size range (8-12 inches). These harvestable-size channel catfish are stocked regularly (usually monthly) into 23 of the 30 lakes that are included in the Commission's Community Fishing Program. Catfish for the remaining seven lakes are provided by the Watha Hatchery.
Beginning in April, channel catfish are collected from the ponds and stocked into Community Fishing Program across the state based on the Community Fishing Program Stocking Schedule that can also be found on this website. Using large nets called "seines", hatchery employees collect the catfish and move them into spring-fed tanks in a holding house. From these tanks, the catfish are stocked into Community Fishing Program lakes over the course of several days. The catfish are not fed several days prior to harvesting and stocking. Anglers at Community Fishing Program lakes know that as soon as these catfish are stocked, they cooperate readily when presented with an enticing worm, chicken liver or other catfish bait.
In addition to the 23 ponds designated for channel catfish rearing, the McKinney Lake State Fish Hatchery has another pond on site that is reserved for an annual children's fishing day. The public is welcome to tour the hatchery during normal working hours, 8a.m. - 4p.m., on weekdays. Free, 30-minute tours for groups of 15 or more can be arranged by calling ahead and scheduling a tour with hatchery personnel. For more information, write to McKinney Lake State Fish Hatchery, 220 McKinney Lake Road, Hoffman, N.C. 28347 or call (910) 895-5330.
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WATHA STATE FISH HATCHERY (Pender County)
Located in Pender County between Burgaw and Penderlea, the Watha State Fish Hatchery is a warmwater hatchery featuring 43 ponds covering more than 45 acres of water. It is used to produce channel catfish, largemouth bass, striped bass, Bodie bass (striped bass hybrids), bluegill sunfish, redear sunfish, redbreast sunfish, hybrid sunfish and American shad for stocking public waters across the entire state of North Carolina. The Watha Hatchery works in conjunction with the McKinney Lake State Fish Hatchery near Rockingham to provide monthly stockings of channel catfish from April through September at 30 Community Fishing Program sites statewide.
The Watha Hatchery was formerly a commercial hatchery operated as the Cape Fear Fish Farm. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission purchased this facility in 1992 and began stocking sportfish from the Watha Hatchery in March 1992.
Hatchery and Stocking Operations
The Watha Hatchery stocks 18 reservoirs annually with striped bass and Bodie bass (striped bass hybrids). In addition, two coastal rivers, the Tar and the Neuse, receive annual stockings of striped bass from the Watha Hatchery. Seven of the thirty Community Fishing Program lakes receive channel catfish stockings from Watha, and other public bodies of water receive largemouth bass and various sunfish from Watha. Over the last two years, the hatchery has begun stocking American shad fry into the Roanoke River. Watha personnel stocked about 50,000 shad fry in the Roanoke River in 1999. More than 308,000 were stocked in the Roanoke river this spring.
For more information on the Watha State Fish Hatchery, please call (910) 283-5099. The address is 4945 Shiloh Road, Watha, N.C. 28471.