AGFC celebrates rebirth of Spring River hatchery

MAMMOTH SPRING — Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Chairman Bobby Martin loaded the first batch of rainbow trout Wednesday at the “ribbon-cutting” of the newly remodeled Jim Hinkle Spring River State Fish Hatchery in northeast Arkansas.

The hatchery, Arkansas’s only state-owned cold water hatchery, supplies rainbow trout to 43 locations throughout The Natural State, including the famed White, Norfork and Spring rivers.

The hatchery, which was originally built in 1974 and was donated to the AGFC by the Kroger Company in 1985, draws cold water from the Spring River, hatches eggs supplied through federal trout hatcheries and cares for the trout until they reach about 12 inches. The process takes about 16 to 18 months from egg to stocking-size fish.

“At its peak the hatchery was able to supply more than 1 million rainbow trout per year, but it’s been a long time since we have reached those production numbers,” B.J. Vandiver, hatchery manager for the AGFC, said.