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04-12-06 Area youngsters can grab a pole while adults get a view of hatching fish

By Nancy Allen

  For the first time in 25 years, the public will be invited to the St. Marys Fish Hatchery between 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Saturday for an open house.

Mort Pugh, superintendent at the St. Marys State Fish Hatchery in Auglaize County, uses a microscope to check on some fish eggs that are about to hatch. In the background millions of walleye, saugeye and yellow perch eggs incubate in clear plastic containers. The public is invited to an open house at the hatchery Saturday.<br></br>

  At the hatchery, people will be able to see between 30 and 35 million walleye, saugeye and yellow perch eggs that are beginning to hatch. An aquarium containing fish species from Grand Lake also will be set up.

  Other activities will include: a pond stocked with bluegill where youth age 17 and younger can fish free, with poles and bait provided; a bald eagle display; free fish identification cards, booklets and bobbers; and a display of the boat used by Ohio Division of Wildlife officials to shock fish for sampling and collecting fish eggs.

  Various wildlife officials also will be on hand, including fish hatchery Superintendent Mort Pugh, who has worked there for more than 20 years. Pugh suggested the event be held to showcase the facility and promote fishing to youth.

  "They did something like this just before I came, but this is the first time since I started here they have had an open house," he said. "We wanted to give people a chance to see what happens in our hatchery and how it operates."  Pugh said this is the hatchery workers' busiest time of the year, making it the best time for the public to see what they do there.

  The walleye, saugeye, large mouth bass, yellow perch and channel catfish raised at the hatchery are used to stock more than 78 reservoirs and lakes throughout Ohio. The hatchery has 25 ponds where the fish are raised.

  Except for walleye stocking, which began in 1999, Grand Lake is not stocked with any other fish species. At the end of May 758,000 walleye fingerlings, measuring about 134 inches long, will be stocked in Grand Lake.


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