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Fraser’s Mills Fish Hatchery

Fraser’s Mills Fish Hatchery

Sport fishing and fish angling are a popular recreational activity in Nova Scotia.  Nova Scotia’s 6,700 lakes, 100 rivers and 7,400 kilometers of coastline offer incredible opportunities for angling enthusiasts.  In September 2016 I had the pleasure of visiting with Stephen Tibodeau at the Fraser’s Mills Fish Hatchery a short distance from Antigonish.

Stephen filled us in on the fish hatcheries in Nova Scotia. “My name is Stephen Thibodeau I am the acting supervisor here at Frasers Mills Fish Hatchery. My role is to coordinate the stocking and the hatchery operations. We are one of 3 hatcheries operated by the province of Nova Scotia. Collectively we stock in excess of 1 million fish to close to 400 sites province wide.

“We primarily stock speckled trout – it’s our provincial fish. We also stock rainbow trout, brown trout and Atlantic Salmon.  The role of the hatcheries is for the recreational fisheries in Nova Scotia. 30% of Nova Scotia’s recreational fisheries rely on hatchery production. The Frasers Mills Hatchery was built in 1928 by the Government of Canada for their hatchery program. It wasn’t till 1982 that the province took over operations and continued stocking.

Fraser's Mills Fish Hatchery. Stephen Thibodeau, Acting Supervisor

Fraser’s Mills Fish Hatchery. Stephen Thibodeau, Acting Supervisor

“There are 2 management programs that we do. One is through regulations for lakes that have a really good trout population we protect those through regulations. Some lakes have competition in the environment or they are heavily fished, then we use hatchery fish as a way of protecting those native stocks. In some cases we actually develop a fishery with hatchery raised trout the urban fishery we use rainbow trout for that. We also use rainbow trout for our winter fishery.

“The trout fishing season starts April 1 to the end of September. We have some special management areas some lakes and streams that have different season lengths. We always encourage people to take a look at the Anglers Handbook before they go out to fish a particular stream. Generally, the season starts April 1st to the end of September.

NS Hatcheries Video


“We get lots of visitors – locals and tourists. They usually come and take a look at the fish. there’s usually questions about good areas to fish, whether it is here in Antigonish County or elsewhere in the province.

“We get lots of visitors – locals and tourists. They usually come and take a look at the fish. there’s usually questions about good areas to fish, whether it is here in Antigonish County or elsewhere in the province.

“In the Spring we start our trout stocking so First of April we start stocking rainbow trout. Coming into late April and early May we start with our Speckled Trout and Rainbow Trout. We usually stop our stocking by the first of July.  It’s too warm for transport and too stressful on the fish. July and August is spent on site maintenance. In the fall we are gearing up for fall stocking.

“We have a number of programs we are involved in one is the Atlantic Salmon enhancement program. In late September and early October we are out collecting stock for that program. We have our own brood stock here on site and start to spawn the middle of October and we are looking after our eggs.  There’s never a dull moment.

“When we release the fish back into the wild the size varies. Normally in the spring they are what we call a “catchable size” or “retainable size”. The Rainbow Trout start out at 10-12 inches. The Speckled Trout start out at 6 inches when we start releasing them.

“There are other programs we are involved with. There’s the Learn to Fish Program geared to kids ages 8 to 12 but we are expanding it. It’s an outreach program. The kids will have a classroom component usually in the morning and we will go out in the afternoon so they will have a chance to take what they learned in the morning to a nearby pond stocked by the hatchery. Another program that we are involved with is the fishing derbies. There are about 50 every spring and summer. A lot of charitable groups use fishing derbies as a way to make money.

“Classrooms, scouting groups, boys and girls clubs take advantage of the Learn to Fish program. Its open to any group of people – usually kids – if there is enough interest and they apply for the Learn to Fish. It’s very popular. We do about 60 a year now. Depending on the location, 1 of the 3 hatcheries will supply the fish. It’s been very well received.

The Province of Nova Scotia, Dept. of Fisheries and Aquaculture operate 3 fish hatcheries to help sustain the popular outdoor angling activities: Fraser’s Mills Hatchery, Antigonish County, Margaree Fish Hatchery, Inverness County and McGowan Lake Hatchery, Queens County.

NS Provincial Fish Hatcheries and Recreational Fishing Areas

NS Provincial Fish Hatcheries and Recreational Fishing Areas

Some of the Province’s more popular stocked lakes are: RFA-1 #20 Dam Pond (Cape Breton Co.), McIntyre Lake (Inverness Co.) RFA-2 Cameron Lake (Antigonish Co.), Gairloch Lake (Pictou Co.), RFA-3 Albro Lake (Halifax Co.), Sucker Lake (Lunenburg Co.) RFA-4 Everitts Lake (Digby Co.), Christopher Lakes (Queens Co.) RFA-5 Silver Lake (Kings Co.) Meadow Pond (Hants Co.), RFA-6 Angevine Lake (Cumberland Co.), Little Dyke Lake (Colchester Co.) (Ref https://novascotia.ca/fish/sportfishing/hatchery-stocking )

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Explore Nova Scotia Lakes and Rivers

 

 

Nova Scotia is almost completely surrounded by water – the ocean.  It is said you are never more than 50 miles from the sea. We have beautiful beaches of many types that are great for swimming, exploring tide pools, beach combing, relaxing in the sun or enjoying the view.

But in addition to being surrounded by water – Nova Scotia has rich inland water country with lakes, rivers and streams dotted over the countryside.  On a recent drive across Nova Scotia from Antigonish along Route 7 and Highway 316 it was a delight to see and stop at just a few of these. The drive winds through rolling hills and farmland and wooded areas.  Then suddenly you are driving along lake waterfront and along winding rivers.

Fisherman at Country Harbour River

Fisherman at Country Harbour River

Along the drive at Country Harbor fishermen cast into the calm waters.  Reflections of the shoreline added to the beauty of the scene. The rivers and lakes of Nova Scotia are stocked with salmon and trout.  Take a side trip and visit the Fraser’s Mills Fish Hatchery to learn more about the process and tour the visitor information center.

 

Golden Gaspereaux Lake

Golden Gaspereaux Lake

In the evening the waters of Gaspereaux Lake were a golden shield reflecting the sunset.  Water birds swam along and flew overhead.

Weather you are driving, walking or cycling the views are splendid.  Or carry your canoe or kayak with you for a peaceful explore of the many inland waters.  Get your fishing license and join the thousands of NS sport fishermen trying their hand at landing trout or salmon.

Some scenes from the drive
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