FISH HATCHERIES IN ILLINOIS
The Illinois Hatchery System is composed of three facilities:
- Jake Wolf Memorial Fish Hatchery, in Mason County near Pekin;
- Little Grassy Fish Hatchery, in Williamson County near Carbondale;
- LaSalle Hatchery, in LaSalle County near Marseilles;
The statewide distribution of the three hatcheries allows them to complement and supplement each other, while giving great latitude in rearing a wide variety of species and aiding in the distribution of fish throughout the state. At full capacity, the system is capable of producing over 50 million fish of 18 species.
The Illinois Hatchery System plays a major role in improving the quality of fishing in Illinois. Since 1984, over 500,000,000 fish have been produced by the system and stocked into Illinois lakes, ponds, reservoirs, and streams. Specific benefits that Illinois anglers are receiving include:
- Enhanced salmonid fishing in Lake Michigan ;
- Statewide fisheries for trophy fish such as muskellunge, tiger muskie, striped bass and hybrid striped bass
- Increased opportunities for catching large and smallmouth bass and walleye;
- Expansion of the channel catfish program;
- Increased stocking of public waters statewide.
The Illinois Hatchery System is dedicated to enhancing fish populations in Illinois waters by producing adequate numbers of various species of fish to meet stocking demands statewide. The Fish Illinois Initiative has allowed for increased fish production and added manpower that are essential to maintaining and enhancing the quality of fishing in Illinois' lakes, ponds, reservoirs, and streams. With this initiative, the Illinois' Hatchery System will continue to stock Illinois' waterways well into the next century!
Jake Wolf Memorial Fish Hatchery
Jake Wolf Memorial Fish Hatchery is the largest of Illinois' three hatcheries. Located five miles west of Manito, the hatchery is fifty-five minutes from Peoria. It encompasses 160 acres of Sand Ridge State Forest in Mason County . Originally called Sand Ridge Hatchery, it was renamed in 1985 in honor of the late Jacob John "Jake" Wolf, former Deputy Director of Conservation.
Intensive fish culture at Jake Wolf Memorial Fish Hatchery produces fish in running water at high densities in both concrete raceways and plastic-lined ponds. It is unique because it is capable of rearing fifteen species of cold, cool, and warm water fish simultaneously. The hatchery is able to do this because it is located on top of a large aquifer. Ten wells are used to pump water from the aquifer to the hatchery. The ground water is 54 degrees Fahrenheit, which is cold enough to raise trout and salmon. Well water can also be heated in a 22 acre solar pond, or by several heat exchangers for other warm water species.
Jake Wolf produces millions of fish annually which are stocked into Illinois' lakes and waterways. Funding for the hatchery comes from the sale of Illinois fishing licenses.
The following species are produced at Jake Wolf:
- Brown trout
- Chinook salmon
- Coho salmon
- Rainbow trout
- Northern Pike
- Hybrid Striped Bass
- Striped Bass
- Channel Catfish
- Largemouth bass
- Smallmouth bass
A Visitor Center is located on the upper level of the hatchery and offers overlooks to view the different stages of fish production. Other attractions include: an antique fishing tackle display containing over 200 artifacts, a "Harvesting the River" exhibit depicting life on the Illinois River during the late 1800s and early 1900s, and several live and static fish displays. Tours of the hatchery are available seven days a week between 8:30 am and 3:30 pm. ALL tours are by appointment only. For tour information and reservations please call (309) 968-7531.
Little Grassy Fish Hatchery
Little Grassy hatchery was opened in 1959 for production of warm water fish. In order to keep up with the state's stocking needs, Little Grassy was expanded in 1979. The hatchery is located seven miles south of Carbondale within the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. Little Grassy Lake, south of the hatchery, serves as its water source, delivering 5,000 gallons of water per minute during peak production.
Production at Little Grassy is primarily warm water species. However, cool water species such as walleye, muskie, and striped bass, may be produced based on the needs of the stocking program. This is accomplished by using a combination of extensive pond culture in 21 earthen ponds. Due to design flexibility, Little Grassy is capable of producing 12 cold, cool, and warm water species, but not simultaneously. Little Grassy produces all non-vulnerable (8 inch length) channel catfish stocked statewide into established fisheries in state and public lakes. These catfish grow approximately one year to reach this desired stocking size. Fingerling catfish, largemouth bass, redear, and bluegill are used to stock private ponds.
Visitors are welcome at Little Grassy. Peak production time runs from mid-May through July. the visitor's center is open from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm every day. For additional information or to schedule a tour please call (618) 529-4100.
LaSalle Fish Hatchery
LaSalle Fish Hatchery was acquired by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources in 1994. For almost 20 years the hatchery had been a research/hatchery facility run by Southern Illinois University–Carbondale.
The hatchery is located 13 miles south of Marseilles adjacent to Commonwealth Edison's nuclear power plant. The LaSalle cooling lake serves as water supply for the hatchery ponds.
The LaSalle Hatchery consists of 16 rearing ponds which total 35.5 acres of water. This hatchery is currently rearing six different species of fish. Both cool and warm water species are produced at LaSalle. Artificial and natural spawning methods are used. Cool water species are stocked as either "fry" (newly hatched less than 1" long) or "fingerlings" (1" - 6" length fish), while warm water species are only stocked as "fingerlings."
Tours are available to groups and the general public. For information and reservations please call (815) 357-6986.