Now with children of my own, Pappy has enjoyed sharing fishing with his grandchildren just as much as his own children. Our current favorite spot is a treasure tucked away at Blanchard Caverns! It is not only beautiful and relaxing it is stocked with some of the prettiest trout you will ever set your eyes on. The kids were pretty proud of their small catch on one of our recent trips.
We decided to take a field trip to show the children where the fish begin their lives before they make their way into our favorite fishing hole. The Norfork National Fish Hatchery is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is located in the mountainous terrain of north Arkansas near Mountain Home. As a cold water hatchery, the primary purpose for the Norfork National Fish Hatchery is to raise trout to restock areas that have been impacted by construction of dams, primarily in the tailwaters of Norfork and Bull Shoals.
The hatchery is responsible for raising three kinds of trout: rainbow, brown and cutthroat. I am not going to lie, it was pretty cool to see all the stages of the trout. The process begins with the eggs arriving and being placed into hatching jars. After the eggs hatch they are placed in aluminum troughs or tanks. Inside, there are rows of troughs with fish so tiny that have just begun to hatch. The kids loved seeing the stages of the fish and could judge by their size, which were older.
Once they are about 3-4 months old, they are placed in the raceways outside where they remain until they are big enough to be harvested and stocked. At that stage, they are released into the nearby waters of the eastern Oklahoma and the White River Basin in Northern Arkansas.
The most fun was feeding the fish! Come prepared with quarters, lots of quarters! The kids couldn’t get enough. The fish swarmed, some jumped but all of them raced towards the food hoping to catch a pellet or two.
Watching the trucks feed the fish is quite a site in itself! If you enjoy fishing, come prepared to fish from Dry Creek Run. Many think it is one of the most prestigious fishing streams in the country for kids as it has been designed as the ultimate fish habitat!
When you visit, be sure to pack a lunch and take a drive up to the top of Norfork dam. The beauty is breathtaking, and the kids can stretch their legs at the park while you take in the natural beauty Arkansas has to offer!