Hatcheries Accomplishments

Restoration biologists continued an annual juvenile shad survey on the Choptank River. The survey assesses American Shad stocking efficacy and serves to estimate wild origin juvenile shad abundance in the restoration target tributary. In 2016, collections on the Choptank River totaled 305 juvenile American Shad after twelve weeks of sampling. Data will be compiled to calculate catch per unit effort (CPUE).

Approximately 500 juvenile and sub-adult Canadian origin Atlantic Sturgeon are being held in multiple aquaculture facilities throughout Maryland. These fish are cultured for scientific research on spawning techniques, sperm cryopreservation, husbandry, marking methodology, feeding and nutritional studies and genetic analysis.

1,775,000 Striped Bass were produced for research, educational outreach, and stocking purposes.

ShadFunding from the Maryland Department of Transportation Port Administration supports a stocking project for larval and juvenile American Shad and Hickory Shad in the Patapsco River. This is a multi-year restoration effort managed by the Hatcheries Division. The project is complementary to ongoing restoration work in the river conducted by the department's Fish Passage Program, the Maryland Biological Stream Survey, American Rivers, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. All of these groups are working together to support ecological restoration of the Patapsco River. The stocking project includes fish culture, stocking, and assessment of historically important migratory species. In 2016, the project stocked 615,000 American Shad and 290,000 Hickory Shad into the Patapsco River.

The 2016 sturgeon sampling season collected, tagged, and released four male and one female Atlantic Sturgeon in Marshyhope Creek, which is a tributary to the Nanticoke River. This brings the project total to 20 tagged fish. Captured fish were sampled for DNA analysis and marked with a t-bar tag, passive integrated transponder (PIT) tag, and an acoustic transmitter (VEMCO). The transmitter was placed in the body cavity while the fish is under sedation. The VEMCO transmitter allows the fish to be detected by any researcher using compatible detection gear anywhere in the world. As a member of the Atlantic Cooperative Telemetry Network (ACT), the Department of Natural Resources can detect and identify any fish that travels into the range of our receivers located throughout the Chesapeake Bay. The research is conducted under National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) permit No. 16547-01. Project staff will continue to monitor receivers in the Choptank River, Nanticoke River and Marshyhope Creek until weather conditions turn unfavorable and require receiver removal. 

In 2016 Unicorn Lake Hatchery underwent major renovations. All water supply lines from Unicorn Lake to the hatchery recruitment ponds were replaced. This included the concrete inlet/valve structure in each pond and the two concrete filter box structures in Unicorn Lake. The old corrugated metal pipes that had deteriorated over time were replaced with Schedule 80 PVC pipe. The project also included drilling a new well that will enable staff to adjust tank culture water temperatures. This will allow hatchery raised fish to convert from natural food to commercial feed more efficiently.

Manning Hatchery has been producing hybrid Striped Bass for stocking in Western Maryland for the last several years. In 2016, fingerlings were stocked in Broadford Lake and Piney Reservoir. Additional fish were transported to the Department of Juvenile Service's Meadow Mountain Youth Camp in Garrett County, where they are cultured as part of the facility's aquaculture curriculum, and later stocked.

Albert Powell Hatchery and Bear Creek Hatchery both received an "A" classification rating for fish health from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Northeast Fishery Center Fish Health Laboratory. This rating is granted only after a facility tests pathogen-free for three consecutive years. This is important for the program, which has committed to strict biosecurity and fish health protocols over the past eight years.​


Hatcheries Division 2016 Stocking Summary:

  • American Shad – 2,757,000
  • Hickory Shad –  615,000
  • Largemouth Bass – 129,710
  • Walleye – 190,000
  • Bluegill – 4,825
  • Hybrid Sunfish – 4,750
  • Golden Shiner – 110,000
  • Yellow Perch – 66,200
  • Tiger Muskellunge – 6,000
  • Trout – 370,215*

*fall 2015 & spring 2016 stockings