December 29, 2014

Norfork National Fish Hatchery

Growing up in Arkansas, fishing is a regular part of life for so many.  I have fond memories of being a very young child fishing with my Dad from a john boat, off the river banks, in the ponds and frequently at Spring or DeGray Lake.  It wasn't always about the fish, it was about spending quality time together, bonding, enjoying the outdoors and just being together.  The fish we caught, those were like the final layer of icing on the cake!

norfork-fish-hatchery sign

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.

norfork-dish-hatchery family

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.

norfork-fish-hatchery kid

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.

norfork-fish-hatchery tanks

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.

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norfork-fish-hatchery fish

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!

norfork-fish-hatchery dam

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!

Amanda Fiveash

Arkansas Women Blogger member Amanda Fiveash can be found online at Our Homemade Life. Born in Arkansas, she lived in three other states before returning back home to raise my own family. Now a busy mama to three blessings, her days are spent homeschooling, cooking and making messes. She never turns down good dark chocolate and her zen time is working in the garden. Her house has been home to many types of animals, but currently they reside with kittens, our beloved golden and a domesticated hen that sleeps in the dog house.

View Amanda's website