RICHMOND HILL — Striped bass, an angler favorite, can be found in large rivers and reservoirs.
But a lot of anglers don’t know that many of these fish are hatched, raised and stocked by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division. In fact, the Richmond Hill Hatchery is the sole producer of Atlantic striped bass fry, hybrid striped bass fry and white bass fry in the state. These fry are distributed to other hatcheries across the state to be reared to a one-inch fingerling size before being stocked into reservoirs across Georgia.
“We are excited here at the Richmond Hill Fish Hatchery because the very first striped bass produced at the facility since the renovation was completed are being transferred to rearing ponds today,” fisheries biologist Chris Harper said in a news release. “It takes about 30 days to get these fish large enough to stock, about one-inch in length, then we harvest them from the rearing ponds and haul them out to locations all over Georgia for stocking.”
Striped bass (Morone saxatilis) have silver, copper or greenish backs and pale sides marked by six to nine dark, unbroken stripes running from head to tail. They have an elongated and slightly compressed body, and two narrow tooth patches on the tongue, which readily distinguishes them from white bass. Hybrid bass have shorter, stockier bodies and broken stripes, and white bass lack stripes. At adult size, they can be anywhere from 5-60 pounds.
Millions of sport fish, such as striped bass, are produced each year at nine hatcheries in the state. Richmond Hill Fish Hatchery recently completed a major renovation that includes a new state-of-the-art hatchery and regional administrative facility. The new hatchery building has the capacity to increase fry production by more than 25 percent compared to the old facility, and since the incubation room has a recirculating water system, the new hatchery will also conserve water.
Funding for the hatchery was derived from mitigation funds from the Savannah River Deepening Project and other state monies. Anglers support the operation of the hatchery through their fishing license purchase and through the Sport Fish Restoration Fund by paying taxes on items like fishing equipment and boat fuel. Those tax dollars get returned to Georgia based, in part, on how many fishing licenses are sold. So by buying a license (www.GoOutdoorsGeorgia.com), state anglers can make sure their dollars stay in Georgia.
For more information about the Richmond Hill Fish Hatchery, visit https://georgiawildlife.com/richmond-hill-fish-hatchery. Fishing information is available at www.georgiawildlife.com/fishing/angler-resources.