Right down the road from our campground here is the North Mississippi Fish Hatchery and Visitor Education Center (yep, get ready for yet another “educational” blog )…And, of course, you know we just had to go see it..I Googled it and it was only $2 for us elders and you did a self guided tour ..Why not, right?
This place was amazing..It features a 10,000 gallon aquarium, displays, interactive exhibits and artifacts. The North Mississippi Fish Hatchery is a technologically advanced center for fish culture..Here, hatchery staff mimic the conditions of wild spawning by controlling water temperature and light levels. Under these carefully controlled conditions, the fish can be induced to spawn at the hatchery. March through June is the busiest time here, handling large volumes of fish. As many as 500,00 Large Mouth Bass “fry” might be present at one time.
This aquarium had Catfish, Black and White Crappie, Bass, Gar Fish, Buffalo (no, NOT the animal, the fish), Blue Gill, and a Eel who refused to peek out from his log…
Soooo, the 2 legged refection is not a Banty Legged, White Topped, Flannel Clad, Blue Jeans Fish…it’s MacGyver’s reflection. I was going for the Alligator Gar Fish.” The fossil record traces the existence of alligator gars back to the Early Cretaceous over a hundred million years ago. They are the largest in the gar family, and among the largest freshwater fishes in North America. Gars are often referred to as "primitive fishes", or "living fossils" because they have retained some morphological characters of their earliest ancestors, such as a spiral valve intestine which is also common to the digestive system of sharks, and they can breathe both air and water. Their common name was derived from their resemblance to American alligators, particularly their broad snout and long sharp teeth. Anecdotal scientific reports suggest that alligator gars can grow up to 10 ft (3.0 m) in length and weigh as much as 300 lb (140 kg).” In my humble opinion a simple explanation of this fish is …BUTT UGLY!..
Can you imagine landing a fish that ugly AND that big???
The Museum was really great! They had old fishing poles, motors, lure, even an old FISHERMAN…Oh, woops, that was Dennis. There was a lot of info on the Enid Lake area. The Enid Dam was begun in 1947 and finished in 1952. The Mississippi freshwaters are known for World Class Crappie, Bass and Catfish fishing. Enid Lake and nearby Sardis,Grenada and Arkabutla lakes are considered some of the best places for Crappie fishing.
They have 16 1 acre “rearing” ponds outside, and some big tanks too….
One of the tanks outside held baby Koi fish..They raise these here at the hatchery strictly as food for the bigger fish…They told us it was less costly to raise their own “fish food” than buying it elsewhere…
“The process of culturing fish may be as simple as allowing them to spawn naturally in one of the ponds (the do this with the Blue Gills). Sometimes it requires hatchery staff to hand strip “brood” fish. Once the staff has determined that the female fish has ovulated (don’t ask..), the staff hand strips the eggs by gently putting pressure on the abdomen, releasing the eggs into a bowl…(Bear with me..). Simultaneously, the male fish is squeezed to release “milt” (whoever Milt is…JUST KIDDING!) over the eggs. Fertilized eggs are then incubated at specific water temperatures in a carefully controlled environment.. OK, you want to see this “environment”?? I knew you would…
“When they hatch, they are called "fry". When the fry are 2"-3 " they are released into the rearing ponds (they have 16 1 acre ponds), growing larger living on a steady diet of zoo plankton. Some fish are allowed to grow to 6" to 8" on a diet of minnows or dry pellets. Once fish grow to desired length, the hatchery staff harvests the fish and loads them into distribution trucks to desired predetermined locations”...This was like a Biology lesson. The Non Sex life of a fish..One of the employees said they have a "resident" Bald Eagle who visits the rearing ponds regularly for his buffet lunch..hahahaha! Of course they allow him that luxury..He’s an AMERICAN BALD EAGLE!!!
Above are 2 of their 16 “rearing” ponds..This North Mississippi Hatchery is HUGE!
Ok, so I just have just got to say that this might be one of my most
informative ridiculous blogs to date. In truth, I did find this place a wonderful lesson and a great idea to keep the fish plentifully supplied in our natural lakes, rivers and streams..
Yep, they are very aware who won the Civil War, but still determined to acknowledge the “Stars and Bars”…A very proud group of people these native Southerners…and I do admire them…
From one of the last great “swingers”…See y’all back in Sandwich IL!!