Trout hatchery has much more than fish
The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor is rich with many locations perfect for outdoor recreation. Thousands of acres of parks and forests with hundreds of miles of trails await your exploratory spirit.
There is one location in the Central Village section of Plainfield I consider a hidden gem — the Quinebaug Valley State Trout Hatchery. I have been there many times and am happy to share information about it.
When it comes to hiking, we are fortunate to have many well-marked, blue-blazed trails traversing our state forest lands. Our region is 67 percent forested land, so our hiking areas are usually in the woods. For hiking in more open field locations with exceptional views of the sky we are more limited – that is until you visit the trout hatchery.
To learn more about the hatchery, I spoke with manager Brian Decker and assistant manager Chris Martin. I also checked out the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection website link to the hatchery for information and facts:
- A fish hatchery is a facility where fish are cultivated and bred in large numbers in an enclosed, man-made environment. The facility allows fish eggs to develop and hatch, and the fish to feed and grow while protected from predators until they are large enough to be released into the state’s rivers and lakes.
- There are three hatcheries in the state, the Kensington, Burlington and Quinebaug hatcheries. The Quinebaug hatchery is the largest of the three, producing up to 96 percent of the trout stocked in the state. Several types of fish are raised in the state’s hatchery system including Atlantic salmon, brook trout, brown trout, Kokanee salmon, rainbow trout and tiger trout. The Quinebaug hatchery raises rainbow, brook and brown trout.
- Built in 1971, the Quinebaug Valley State Trout Hatchery sits on about 2,000 acres of state-owned land and is managed by the state DEEP. The facility includes four primary areas where fish are raised: A hatch house where fish eggs are incubated to hatch; a large room with 30 intermediate tanks that holds up to 30,000 fish until they reach 6-8 inches in length; an outdoor grow-out area of 40 large circular tanks covered with netting to control predatory birds that holds larger fish until they are ready to be moved to rivers and lakes; and a brood stock raceway where fish are raised to provide eggs for the hatch house.
The area where I spend most of my time when visiting the hatchery is a large, 460-acre field where 14 deep wells produce up to 5,000 gallons of water per minute necessary for fish production in the hatch house, intermediate tanks, outdoor grow-out tanks and brood stock raceway.
What I enjoy most about the large open field is it provides a huge view of the open sky for observing many bird species. Bald eagles and hawks, herons and many species of waterfowl can be seen throughout the fields and surrounding acres. A tall electrical power line traverses the property, which also provides roosting locations for bald eagles and hawks. The field is not mowed each year and provides ample native plants and shrubs to attract many year-round birds and migrating songbirds. It is a bird watcher’s paradise.
The field has level, accessible dirt service roads including a 1.5-mile loop. These roads are perfect for walking, horseback riding, leashed dogs, and a fun place to bring the family. There is even a stocked family fishing pond with a nearby picnic table.
The site borders the Quinebaug River, which flows about one mile through the property. There is an excellent river boat launch for canoes and kayaks. I have used this launch several times as a landing area for paddling downstream from Danielson, or for launching a paddle downstream to Canterbury to the landing at Robert Manship Park. The site includes a TLGV kiosk with helpful information about paddling the Quinebaug River
Just downstream and beyond the hatchery is the Quinebaug River Wildlife Management Area, which continues for another three miles downstream on either side of the river. This stretch is one of the most beautiful paddle locations in The Last Green Valley with an easy takeout a few miles downstream at Robert Manship park in Canterbury.
If you go to the hatchery it is important to be aware that hunting is allowed on the grounds during the hunting season from September through February. Many different groups use the facility for hiking, bird watching, horseback riding, photographing wildlife, riding trail bikes, walking dogs and hunting. Please remember if you bring your dogs they must be on a leash at all times according to state law. When using any of our beautiful outdoor recreation facilities it is always good to keep to the old saying “take only pictures, leave only footprints.”
The managers at the hatchery also stress that parking is available in the main lot near the facility, or the two other lower lots adjacent to the field. No cars are allowed on the loop roads – they are only for hatchery staff service vehicles.
The Quinebaug Valley State Trout Hatchery is located at 141 Trout Hatchery Road in Central Village and is open from sunrise to sunset, seven days a week. The facility building is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. for a self-guided tour. Restroom facilities are available in the main building. Group tours for school and scout groups are available by reservation and calling ahead to (860) 564-7542. The website for the hatchery can be found at:
We live in a beautiful region full of exceptional outdoor recreation locations. I consider the Quinebaug Valley State Trout Hatchery to be one of the best and hope you’ll consider a visit sometime soon.
Bill Reid is chief ranger of The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor and has lived in the region for more than 35 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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