Wolf Lake Hatchery Hosts Annual Fish Festival

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Wolf Lake Hatchery“Fish on!” These exciting words will reverberate through the grounds of the Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery on July 19-20, as dozens of youngsters catch a steelhead trout or even a muskie from the half-acre show pond. It’s all part of the hatchery’s 9th Annual Fish Festival.

Admission is free. The festival, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days, features tours of the hatchery, catch and release fishing (for children 5-16 only), guided nature hikes, minnow races, food and refreshments, and more.

“The festival is a fun and educational way for families to learn about the important role of hatcheries in providing the quality fishing opportunities Michigan has to offer,” said Wolf Lake Interpreter Shana McMillan. “Most people don’t know the Department of Natural Resources’ six fish hatcheries produce over 750,000 pounds of fish every year for stocking our lakes, rivers and streams. That’s over 62 million fish.”

During their tour of the hatchery, which begins every 20 minutes, visitors will learn how the DNR uses its fish production program to hatch, rear and transport fish required for the management of both Great Lakes and inland fisheries. Species produced at this facility include walleye, northern pike, muskellunge, steelhead trout, lake sturgeon (the only facility to rear this species) and chinook salmon.

Children could take turns catching fish in the Wolfe Lake Hatchery pond. “Approximately 40 percent of all recreational fishing in Michigan depends on stocked fish, including most of the Great Lakes trout and salmon fishery,” said Martha Wolgamood, hatchery manager. “Without the number and quality of young fish produced by our fish hatcheries each year, our task would be all but impossible when it comes to keeping Michigan’s sportfishing among the nation’s very best.”

In addition to the tours and catch and release fishing for kids, there will be free lessons on casting and knot tying with live music on Saturday. Inside the visitor center, participants will be able to go virtual fishing to experience the thrill of landing a bass, trout or salmon. Other activities include displays by the DNR and presentations by several local conservation organizations, as well as crafts and other activities for children.

The Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery Visitor Center is open Memorial Day – Labor Day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday – Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Guided tours of the fish hatchery are offered Monday – Saturday at 10 and 11 a.m. and 1, 2 and 3 p.m., and Sunday at 1, 2 and 3 p.m.

The catch and release fishing program for youth continues each Saturday morning through August. Times are at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. Preregistration is required.

Fun Friday programs are offered each Friday through the end of August at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Topics include frogs, turtles, snakes, birds and more. Contact the visitor center for a schedule.

The center is located in Mattawan, at Fish Hatchery Road and M-43, six miles west of the junction of M-43 and US-131. For more information about events and programs, contact Shana McMillan at (269) 668 2876.