MOSS LAKE — About 52,000 fingerling Channel Catfish were introduced to Moss Lake Wednesday afternoon when a trailer from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department arrived.

Jaret Marquest, of the A.E. Wood Fish Hatchery in San Marcos, after arriving to the lake’s north ramp around 2:30 p.m., spent 15 minutes acclimating the tiny fish to their new home by matching the temperature in the tank trailer to that of Moss Lake, among other factors. Too much shock and the fish will die, Marquest said, though they usually take to a new lake well.

“There’s a few ‘morts’ in there already — our word for dead fish — from harvesting the pond,” he added.

The A.E. Wood Fish Hatchery is located in central Texas along the banks of the San Marcos River, according to information from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The hatchery, built in 1949 and refurbished in 1984, specializes in rearing fingerling sportfish for stocking into about 300 Texas reservoirs. It offers tours to the public on weekdays.

The 33,000-square-foot hatchery building houses intensive culture operations. It includes a modern incubation room, shipping and holding troughs, and production raceways. The building also houses a complete laboratory capable of water quality testing, genetic identification, fish disease diagnosis and treatment, and law enforcement forensic techniques.

The outside portion of the facility consists of 50 plastic lined ponds that provide about 47 acres of water. There is also a 9.5-acre storage reservoir, two wastewater retention ponds and a zooplankton production pond there. Water for the facility is obtained from the spring-fed San Marcos River.

Fish produced in the hatchery include Florida Largemouth Bass, Channel Catfish, Rainbow Trout and Koi Carp.

Other inland fish hatcheries include the Dundee Fish Hatchery in Electra, the Jasper Fish Hatchery in Jasper, the Possum Kingdom Fish Hatchery in Graford and the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens.

In April 2007, the Texoma Fisheries Station of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in Pottsboro provided about 3,000 fish, weighing an average of two-and-a-half pounds each, for the newly filled Muenster Lake resevoir. Those fish were provided by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department hatchery in Uvalde and were delivered by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in five specially fitted trailers.

Rodney Gill, who was preparing to fish the south end of the lake, said he doesn’t mind the extra fish in Moss Lake at all.

“That’s more fish for me, even though I usually just throw them back,” he said, while opening his tackle box.

Marquest said though the fish in a man-made lake can fend for themselves, with fisherman routinely pulling them out and environmental changes, it helps to add a little fresh blood to the underwater population. In some lakes in West Texas algae production is a problem. But in North Central Texas the lakes are usually self-sufficient, for the most part.

“Sometimes the fish do better with a little help, he said.

Reporter Andy Hogue may be contacted at andyhoguegdr@ntin.net

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