As water temperatures drop enough to make fish handling safe, employees with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Booker Fowler and Beechwood Fish Hatcheries are busy stocking lakes statewide with channel catfish and bluegill.
Booker Fowler Fish Hatchery, LDWF's primary fish-production facility, is currently undergoing a partial renovation and did not have the pond space to raise the catfish or bluegill this year.
"Through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the fish were raised at the Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery," said Kristi Butler, LDWF biologist manager. "The department is grateful to the USFWS for their assistance."
Inland Fisheries district biologists make requests for fish each year, which are prioritized by need into a single list. Hatchery employees then work to fulfill the requests, starting with the highest stocking priority and working down the list. This year, 745,000 channel catfish and 6.7 million bluegill were requested for 36 bodies of water around the state of Louisiana. The fish are transported from the hatchery to the stocking location by special trucks equipped with insulated tanks and oxygen distribution systems.
Channel catfish are usually requested for lakes in urban areas with high fishing pressure. Bluegill are usually requested for urban areas and lakes that have been renovated to provide forage for subsequent stockings of largemouth bass in the spring. Some of the stockings requested this year are part of the department's continued efforts to restore fisheries impacted by the 2005 hurricanes.
Both the channel catfish and the bluegill stocked this fall should reach harvestable size after another growing season.
For more information, contact Kristi Butler at Booker Fowler Fish Hatchery at firstname.lastname@example.org or 318-748-6914.
USFWS and LDWF employees work together to harvest a pond of channel catfish fingerlings at the USFWS Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery.