Rearing & Stocking Fish

Michigan has a long history with stocking fish – but why? Those who manage the state’s fisheries are usually motivated by a many factors; to restore ecosystem balance, to provide diverse fishing opportunities, or to rehabilitate fish populations that aren’t doing well.

Fish stocking in Michigan wouldn’t be possible without the Department of Natural Resources’ fish stocking efforts, led by six state fish hatcheries, three permanent egg-take stations, and numerous rearing ponds. The state’s fish production system annually produces tens of millions of fish for stocking, with rearing programs generally broken into two main groups: coolwater and coldwater.

What are coolwater species? They are those that can live in warmer water and include walleye, muskellunge, northern pike and lake sturgeon. What are coldwater species? They are those that need to live in colder water and include trout and salmon.

After these various fish species live (or are reared) in the state fish hatcheries or rearing ponds they are then stocked in public waterbodies throughout Michigan. Fish are transported on various types of trucks – anywhere from a small truck with a trailer to a large semi! The DNR has 17 specially-designed stocking trucks that drive thousands of miles across the state with fish.

Want to see how the DNR takes care of fish in the hatcheries up close? Plan a visit to one of the six locations by visiting Michigan.gov/hatcheries.


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