Nebraska Game and Parks operates five fish hatcheries across the state that supply fish for angling and conservation purposes.
Nebraska’s hatcheries, or fish production facilities, employ many tools to maintain and enhance our state’s fish populations and fishing opportunities.
Each fish hatchery has unique resources. Cooperatively, they produce many species including cold-water trout; cool-water northern pike, muskellunge and walleye; and warm-water largemouth bass, bluegill, white bass and catfish. Nebraska’s fish production efforts are reinforced through trade agreements with other state and federal agencies.
Research and conservation
Research on rare fish species like the pearl dace and other aquatic organisms like the plain pocketbook mussel is also conducted at our fish hatcheries. Our fisheries biologists typically conduct the research in partnership with the University of Nebraska and other state and federal agencies. In addition to research, innovative conservation projects have been developed and conducted to address declining populations of identified aquatic species.
The video below highlights recent conservation efforts involving the plain pocketbook mussel.
Many of our fish hatcheries offer tours and educational opportunities. Keep in mind, these are working facilities, so at times, our teams may be busy and unable to accommodate a tour request. Be assured we are caring for the fish resource to produce a healthy product for our anglers.
At our hatcheries, we take steps to prevent aquatic invasive species and infectious diseases from entering or leaving the facilities. We do not allow contact with the production waters to prevent these risks. We also prioritize public safety and recommend children be attended at all times. Pets must be on leash and are not allowed in buildings; service animals are an exception.
Find visitor hours and more about what each hatchery offers below so you can plan a visit.
The state’s newest addition to its fish production facilities is the Calamus Fish Hatchery, which began operations in 1991. This facility boasts 51 rubber-lined ponds, aeration towers to oxygenate cold water drawn from groundwater wells, a heat exchange system to regulate water temperature, a wet lab and a pathology lab. The Calamus River and Calamus Reservoir supply water to the facility.
Primary production emphasis is on rainbow trout, walleye, yellow perch, black crappie and channel catfish. Trout fingerlings are reared to 4 or 5 inches and then transported to Grove Trout Rearing Station before being distributed statewide. The hatchery also produces wiper, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, blue catfish, sauger, saugeye, muskellunge, northern pike, tiger muskie and bluegill.
Visitors are welcome at Calamus Fish Hatchery during normal working hours. An interpretive display is located in the main hatchery building. This must-see first stop on your visit will provide updated information about the fish, the facility and Nebraska Game and Parks. To prevent the spread of disease and reduce stress to fish, some areas of the facility may not be open to visitation. Contact the hatchery in advance to schedule a tour of the facilities.
Address: Calamus Fish Hatchery | 42254 Hatchery Road | Burwell, NE 68823
Since opening its doors in 1961, the Grove Trout Rearing Station operates year-round to raise rainbow and cutthroat trout. Fish are reared in ponds and raceways that utilize spring water and water from East Verdigre Creek. These waters range in temperature from the mid-30s to high-60s (F) and provide ideal water quality for trout production.
Trout are not hatched at the Grove station. Instead, four-inch fingerlings are transferred from Calamus State Fish Hatchery several times throughout the year. Once the trout arrive, they are fed daily, sorted to proper sizes and when they’ve grown to 10 inches in length, are stocked year-round in a wide variety of public lakes and streams across Nebraska. Typically, trout are one year old by the time they are stocked.
Grove Trout Rearing Station currently releases approximately 150,000 trout annually. About 20 percent of the trout reared at Grove supply Two Rivers Lake 5, a put-and-take rainbow trout lake located at Two Rivers State Recreation Area near Venice, Nebraska.
Visitors are welcome at Grove Trout Rearing Station. The fish production area and visitor shelter is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CT, seven days a week with limited services from Sept. 30 to May 1. In order to maintain fish health and public safety, certain areas of the hatchery grounds are closed to the public.
An information shelter where visitors may view a video about the facility is located near the production ponds.
Because Grove Trout Rearing Station is the most heavily visited of Nebraska’s hatcheries, guided tours are only available to schools and organized groups. Tours are by appointment only, are dependent on the hatchery schedule and must be arranged a minimum of two weeks in advance. Tours on weekends in the summer and drop-in tours cannot be accommodated. A hatchery tour lasts approximately one hour, includes a 10-minute educational video that explains the operation and provides the opportunity to ask questions. If there are special topics to be discussed, tell us when scheduling. Accommodations can be made for persons with disabilities upon request. Contact the Station in advance to schedule a tour.
Address: Grove Trout Rearing Station | 52072 864th Road | Royal, NE 68773
The North Platte Fish Hatchery opened in 1943. The facility utilizes the adjacent Nebraska Public Power District irrigation canal to feed 43 earthen ponds, water that ultimately is returned to the canal after being used for fish production.
The North Platte Hatchery produces a variety of coolwater and warmwater fish species including regular production of walleye, white bass, blue catfish and channel catfish. On demand, the hatchery also produces yellow perch, black and white crappie, wiper, striped bass, bluegill, muskellunge, tiger muskie, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, northern pike, sauger and saugeye. North Platte hatchery staff also makes annual collections of walleye and white bass eggs and milt from regional water bodies.
In addition to the hatchery, this property houses the Aquatic Conservation Facility where our team conducts mussel propagation research, as well as other aquatic work.
The North Platte Hatchery is open to the public and tours may be scheduled during normal working hours. Hatchery information is on display at the hatch house. To prevent the spread of disease and reduce stress to fish, some areas of the facility may not be open to visitation. Contact the hatchery in advance to schedule a tour.
Permits and agency information are also available at the Commission’s District IV office, located at the entrance to the facilities.
Address: North Platte State Fish Hatchery | 444 E. State Farm Road | North Platte, NE 69101
The Rock Creek Fish Hatchery was founded at the headwaters of Rock Creek in 1924 to utilize the creek’s abundant cold water spring flow. The water supply allows for the production of both coolwater and warmwater species. The hatchery annually produces rainbow and, every other year, tiger trout. On demand, the hatchery produces wiper, rock bass, redear sunfish and yellow perch.
Several species of fish produced in the past at the hatchery included the plains topminnow and pearl dace, and are either threatened or listed as species of concern. The hatchery provides universities with a valuable resource for ongoing research relating to threats faced by these species as a result of habitat loss.
The hatchery contributes to the production of nearly half of the trout stocked in Nebraska. Trout are reared at Rock Creek until they are about 10 inches in length and are stocked at Lake Ogallala, Rock Creek Lake, Elm Creek and numerous city park ponds in the panhandle and Pine Ridge regions.
The Rock Creek Hatchery is open to the public and visitors are welcome to take a tour of the facilities. Permits and agency information are also available.
Address: Rock Creek State Fish Hatchery | 70995 Rock Creek Road | Parks, NE 69041
The Valentine Fish Hatchery has been in operation since 1912, making it the state’s oldest functioning production facility. The facility utilizes water from the Minnechaduza and Fishberry creeks for its 23 onsite ponds.
The Valentine hatchery regularly produces warmwater fish species, including largemouth bass, bluegill and channel catfish. On demand, the hatchery also produces shovelnose sturgeon, redear sunfish, rock bass, yellow perch and northern pike. The Valentine hatchery staff also makes annual collections of eggs and milt from northern pike, muskellunge, walleye and yellow perch from regional water bodies, particularly those located on the Valentine National Wildlife Refuge. Some collections are used to produce tiger muskie, a hybrid fish produced by crossing eggs from a female northern pike with milt from a male muskellunge.
The hatchery also houses largemouth bass and bluegill year round. These species are allowed to spawn naturally in the hatchery ponds, and fingerlings are collected for distribution in the fall. Recirculating Aquaculture Systems technologies are being used to allow year-round production of larger bluegill and largemouth bass for springtime stockings.
Visitors are welcome at Valentine Fish Hatchery during normal working hours. Contact the hatchery in advance to schedule a tour of the facilities.
Government Canyon, a walk-in WMA located on the north end of the property, offers a variety of opportunities for hikers, bikers, bird watchers and wildlife photographers. Firearm and archery hunting for deer and turkey is also permitted on select portions of the area.
Address: Valentine State Fish Hatchery | 90164 Hatchery Road | Valentine, NE 69201