Trout stockings to resume at Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery

Willow Beach
Willow Beach

The Arizona Game and Fish Department, in cooperation with Mohave County and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), succeeded on Tuesday, April 22, in creating a short-term solution to provide recreational fishing opportunities this fall in the Willow Beach-Bullhead City area.

Arizona Game and Fish will be providing some 21,000 juvenile rainbow trout to be reared and stocked through the Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery, which is located along the Colorado River south of the Hoover Dam.

“This is a huge win for anglers in Arizona and Mohave County,” said Chris Cantrell, fisheries chief for Game and Fish. “This will have a positive impact on all Arizona anglers, particularly from Willow Beach south to the Bullhead City area.”

On Nov. 21, 2013, the hatchery, operated by the USFWS, conducted an emergency stocking of 11,000 rainbow trout when the low water level made it impossible to draw water. The hatchery, however, lost 20,000 fish due to a lack of water movement through the system. Since then, the hatchery has been unable to rear or stock sport fish.

Despite the hatchery’s pipeline and infrastructure damages, this solution will allow for short-term angling opportunities. Meanwhile, Game and Fish, USFWS and Mohave County will continue to work toward a long-term solution to supply trout to Arizona waters for recreational fishing opportunities.

Added Stewart Jacks, USFWS fisheries and aquatic conservation assistant regional director: “These are challenging times, but this is a great example of people working together to come up with a solution. That includes those working at the hatchery. They are ‘boots on the ground’ every day — no matter what’s thrown at them, they come back looking for a solution with professionalism and dedication.”

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission remains opposed to a reprioritization of National Fish Hatcheries by USFWS and will continue to work towards ensuring that the USFWS fulfills its commitment to support sportfishing in Arizona and across the nation.

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