New East Texas Fish Hatchery Opens Below Sam Rayburn Reservoir
A sneak preview of the new East Texas State Fish Hatchery near Jasper, which will produce species of bass, catfish and bluegill for stocking into Texas waters. You can tour it today (4/27) and tomorrow (4/28).
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) officials have announced that the new John D. Parker East Texas State Fish Hatchery (ETFH) will be open for public viewing on Friday, April 27 and again on Saturday, April 28.
Open house hours on Friday will be from noon until 5 p.m. Saturday hours will be from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
The hatchery is named for the honorable John D. Parker, the late TPWD Commission member from Lufkin who was instrumental in securing regional support for the project.
Although construction at the site will continue until July, TPWD has taken possession of a substantial portion of the site and is producing fish at the hatchery this spring.
“The open house is being scheduled now to allow the public to see the hatchery in operation during the peak of its production cycle,” said Todd Engling, hatchery program director for TPWD’s Inland Fisheries Division.
Following the open house, the facility will remain closed to the public until construction is complete.
The ETFH is located in Jasper County below Sam Rayburn Reservoir. Planning for the new facility began in 2000 due to the need to replace the 70-year-old Jasper Fish Hatchery, in operation since 1932. Jasper County won a competitive proposal process by presenting a plan that furnished the best value to TPWD. A significant part of the package was approximately 200 acres of land provided by Jasper County.
Construction started in July 2008 on the hatchery’s 64 production ponds totaling 67 acres, a 34,000-square-foot production building and an 8,000-square foot office facility that houses offices for hatchery staff, fisheries management staff, aquatic habitat enhancement personnel and law enforcement. Maintenance and equipment storage areas are also included.
“This state-of-the-art facility offers expanded production capability and operational flexibility,” Engeling said. “The hatchery is expected to produce four to five million fingerlings of various species—largemouth bass, channel catfish, blue catfish, bluegill sunfish, striped bass and hybrid striped bass—for stocking into Texas’ rivers and lakes.”
Through the purchase of the Texas freshwater fishing stamp, anglers paid for the majority of the $43.3 million project. Additional funding sources include the department’s Game, Fish and Water Safety Account 9, assistance under an agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation, and Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration funds. Many other costs of managing Texas fisheries are paid for with funds from the Sport Fish Restoration Program, which returns proceeds from a federal excise tax on fishing-related purchases to state fish and wildlife agencies through matching funds.
Additional support and assistance with the project was provided by the Lower Neches River Authority, Campbell Group and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Public freshwater resources in Texas include more than 800 impoundments and 190,000 miles of rivers and streams. An estimated 1.8 million anglers a year fish in those waters, contributing an estimated $2.38 billion in total expenditures to the Texas economy.
Texas’ five state fish hatcheries play a vital role in maintaining the quality of Texas fisheries. “More fish in more places in support of fisheries management objectives provide better fishing and more fishing opportunities statewide, with accompanying benefits to the state’s economy and our citizens’ quality of life,” said Gary Saul, TPWD Inland Fisheries Division Director.
Access to the new hatchery is via Jasper County Road 218, which joins Texas Recreational Road 255 just east of the Sam Rayburn Dam about halfway between Texas 63 and US 96 north of Jasper. Physical address is 900 CR 218, Brookeland, TX 75931.