On a day like today, when we invite kids to experience fishing here at the hatchery, we expect for the death of our trout. But up until then, all other unplanned for methods of piscine demise are strongly discouraged.

On a day like today, when we invite kids to experience fishing here at the hatchery, we expect for the death of our trout. But up until then, all other unplanned for methods of piscine demise are strongly discouraged.
Every day, forces seen and unseen come against our finny flock. Even as they develop in their eggs, they’ve already overcome adversity. To begin, they had to successfully get fertilized, which in a hatchery environment is more straightforward than in the wild. But even so, “blank” eggs are either unfertilized or dead and are culled before the shipment makes it to Neosho. Our first step upon opening their container is to bathe them in an iodine solution to sterilize the outside from any external virus, bacterial or other infectious threat. Then, they incubate in our spring water for a week or more before hatching. Water temperature is key when hatching trout though, as warmth can be a deadly enemy for these cold-water fish. Good thing our steady, clean, clear flow is suitable to their needs.
After they hatch and go on feed, diet plays a critical role in their health. In the wild, they would feed on various water bugs and such, but under our hatchery care, they are given a specially developed trout food for maximum nourishment. Poor nutrition will definitely lead toward unhealthy animals.
And speaking of food, many predators try to make our growing trout into their meal. Active predators can do a number on our numbers, especially the herons. We have seen as many as four great blue herons at a time loitering around our grounds, but usually not that many. And they are somewhat seasonal in how they show up and then aren’t seen for extended periods. Even more like that are the fish-eating ospreys and bald eagles that come through. Other foes include snapping turtles and mink. Scavengers that snack on already dead fish aren’t much of a concern for us, but include raccoons, cats, fox, red-shouldered hawk and vultures.
The unseen forces that come against our fish can be microscopic (bacteria, viruses and parasites) or even chemical (acidic or basic water, dissolved substances, lack of oxygen) in nature. We strive to be ever vigilant against even these foes. One other one you might not have thought of is stress. Just changing any main parameter for fish can shock them into a downward spiral that can lead to death if we’re not careful. We pay special attention when moving our fish to not stress them too much and try to keep them as harmonious as possible.
So that is a short list of the things that will kill our fish if we’re not aware. But if you’d like to partake in some additional trout demise and are in the senior category (62 and up) or are physically challenged, next Friday from 9:00 to noon is your time. As with the kids derby, this will be done like the old days by fishing in our branch.