On June 30, 1903, Pratt County donated l2 acres of land for a fish hatchery two miles east and one mile south of Pratt. In 1905, three additional acres were donated, and the legislature appropriated $8,400 for the hatchery. At that time, the hatchery building was constructed, and the hatchery consisted of seven ponds.
The hatchery was expanded almost to its present configuration in 1912 and 1913 with the construction of a new headquarters office, numerous operational buildings, and 83 additional one-acre fish production ponds. At that time, it was the largest fish hatchery in the United States.
THE HATCHERY TODAY
Today, the Department of Wildlife and Parks' Operations Office and Wildlife Museum share the grounds with the hatchery, and many visitors tour the facilities each year.
The hatchery is managed by Mark Kumberg. Four specialists Mike Hassler, Kevin Becker, Duane Panek and Brett Houdyshell share responsibilities in production and maintenance of the hatchery.
If the body of the hatchery consists of the ponds where fish are raised, the Hatchery Building is its heart. Nicknamed the "Fish House," this is where fry are artificially hatched, treated for disease, and readied for stocking or rearing ponds.
Presently, the hatchery grounds consist of 87 culture ponds and two concrete raceways. The primary water supply for the hatchery is a shallow five- acre reservoir on the Ninnescah River at the east edge of Pratt's Lemon Park. With the supplemental help of two wells, the hatchery is capable of running 3,000 gallons of water per minute through the gravity-flow system. Water flows continuously through the hatchery and back into the Ninnescah, giving the facility high quality water.
Fish species raised at the Pratt Hatchery include walleye, wiper ( white bass/ striped bass hybrid), sauger, saugeye ( walleye/sauger hybrid), largemouth bass, channel catfish, and bluegill. Brood fish and forage fish are maintained in the ponds.
Watch a video on the Pratt Hatchery