Tishomingo — Nothing elevates the hope and heart rate of an angler more than hearing that first predawn “ZWIIINNGGG” of a casting reel as fishing line slashes the early morning air and falls – plop – into the water.
Whether it’s the first or last day of the season, fishermen hope that plop is a dinner bell ringing in the ears of their desired quarry.
Outdoor enthusiasts pursing a multitude of game fish seeking refuge in coves, holes and brush in Oklahoma’s lakes and streams make a sound, too. They make cash registers ring with predictable regularity.
With more than 700,000 anglers using the many public lakes, ponds and streams within Oklahoma each year, work is underway to guarantee the state’s natural fish resources will exist for generations to come. These efforts incorporate fish hatcheries located throughout the state, including the Tishomingo National Fish Hatchery.
The national hatchery was established in 1929 on lands purchased from Native Americans. Located less than 15 minutes from the city of Tishomingo, it has been named in honor of Chickasaw Chief Tishomingo – one of the tribe’s most celebrated leaders.
Hatcheries play a major role in preserving imperiled species and provide millions of fish for recreational purposes. The Tishomingo National Fish Hatchery is one of only 70 fish hatcheries managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Each hatchery is unique, but all work to protect and conserve fish populations within the U.S.
“Our hatchery is different from most for a couple of reasons,” biologist Brian Fillmore said. “While we do raise recreational fish, national hatcheries focus on threatened, endangered and species of special interest. Included are paddlefish and alligator snapping turtles, a non-fish species. Also, the water we use is gravity fed to our ponds, we don’t have the added cost and headache of large water pumps.”