A Joyful Noise: An anniversary adventure to the Wallhalla Fish Hatchery
- Friday, 12 November 2010
- Written by James Richardson
Are you having a good Fall? Haven’t we had the best weather ever? While the leaves in our area haven’t been at their best this year, I’m not going to complain about being able to have the windows open and the heat and air off. That little nip of cold we had last Saturday night brought the garden to an end, but we picked all the tomatoes green, and will let them ripen in the spare bedroom. Who knows, we may even have home-grown tomatoes for Thanksgiving. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?
My husband Bob and I recently celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary. You really should pray for him, having to live with me all these years! We celebrated by taking a drive up to the Pickens Flea Market, said to be the oldest farmers market in South Carolina. After walking around for about an hour, we headed north to the Walhalla Fish Hatchery, located off Highway 107, between Highway 11 and the North Carolina state line. It was a beautiful drive, and I had my Garmin GPS set to 'shortest route'. What a treat! It actually took us down a few dirt roads, connecting us from one highway to another, cutting corners. Since I drive a pickup truck, I wasn’t too worried, but it was fun making Bob wonder where on earth I was taking him!
When we arrived at the hatchery, restrooms were right there in the parking lot, which was convenient. They are outhouse-style facilities, complete with the old-time smell. No pot of lime, but no resident spiders and lots of light, so it was fine.
There is an information kiosk at the lovely, wooden walkway that takes you into the Hatchery. Turn left to fish and walk the trails. Turn right to go into the hatchery.
At this hatchery, they raise Rainbow, Brook and Brown trout. The trout are bred “manually”, which means the eggs are taken when the females are “ripe”, and then fertilized with sperm from the males. They are kept in the Spawning House and fed oxygen-rich water until their eyes begin to develop. Typically, this is about 4-6 weeks of hatching time. The new fish will stay in the Spawning House until they are 2 inches in length. They are then taken outside and put into the raceways, which are 100ft in length. The fish will remain in these oxygenated tanks until they reach a stocking size of 9 inches, which takes about 14-16 months. They are then transported to various rivers in the Upstate and released.
When we left the working area of the hatchery, we walked along the walkway and discovered there are picnic tables along the East Fork branch of the Chattooga River. A little farther along was a covered picnic shelter, complete with tables, benches, and a wonderful fireplace! It was beautiful.
Following the trail past the picnic shelter, the trail marker says its 2.5 miles to the Chattooga River. We went a portion of the way, but since we did not have our hiking shoes and walking sticks, we decided to complete that adventure another day.
There are five fish hatcheries operated by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. They are located in: Walhalla, Heath Springs, Cheraw, West Columbia and Bonneau. To my knowledge, they are all open to the public. You might want to go online and check out the website: http://hatcheries.dnr.sc.gov for more information. And don’t forget, if you go fishing, you’re going to need a license.
If you are looking for a daytrip adventure, I can highly recommend an outing to the Walhalla Hatchery. It may spur you on to visit some of the others. I’m convinced we will seek them out ourselves.
I hope that you've enjoyed this little bit of silliness....stay tuned for more!
(Editor's Note: To see more pictures from Joyce's trip, visit the complete album on her Facebook page HERE.)
To learn more about Joyce, CLICK HERE.