Located at the headwaters of Cold Brook, a major tributary of Keuka Lake (one of the eleven Finger Lakes), the hatchery raises brook, brown, rainbow, and lake trout and also cisco, a salmonid also known as lake herring.
Annual production of all species is about 86,000 pounds, or close to 1,000,000 fish each year. The Hatchery is responsible for nine counties in NYS: Steuben, Chemung, Yates, Schuyler, Seneca, Cayuga, Tompkins, Tioga and Broome.
Bath Hatchery’s location enables staff to take advantage of the area’s high-quality spring water: staff tap into three springs and one pumped well, which together supply 1,500 gallons/minute for trout culture.
Brown trout are raised from 540,000 eyed eggs obtained in early October from DEC’s Randolph Fish Hatchery in Cattaraugus County. Fish not stocked by Bath staff are sent to other hatcheries (e.g., Chateauguay and Rome) and raised to stockable size.
In early October, staff set gill nets in Cayuga Lake to capture spawning lake trout. Staff collect and fertilize eggs on a pontoon boat, then send the eggs to the hatchery to be incubated, hatched, and raised. The lake trout are stocked in six Finger Lakes (Canadice, Hemlock, Canandaigua, Seneca, Cayuga and Owasco), as well as Otsego Lake and Lake Champlain.
All the fish are fin-clipped to identify them as hatchery fish, which helps biologists determine their age and how these hatchery fish are performing in specific waters relative to native fish.
Finger Lakes strain rainbow trout that spawn in Cayuga Inlet are captured in a fish ladder near Ithaca. Bath Hatchery staff bring the eggs to Bath to be incubated, hatched and raised. Wild rainbow trout will eventually be stocked in tributaries of Keuka, Seneca, Cayuga, Owasco and Skaneateles lakes to supplement existing wild populations in those waters.
Hatchery staff also cross wild female rainbow trout with domestic male rainbow trout to create a hybrid rainbow trout. The hybrids are stocked exclusively in Skaneateles Lake, producing a high- quality fishery.
In addition, hatchery staff also raise rainbow trout from eggs obtained from the Randolph Hatchery and fingerling fish from the Van Hornesville Hatchery. These fish are stocked in Lake Erie tributaries and small lakes and ponds in the Southern Tier.
The hatchery also raises and stocks cisco from eggs collected at Chaumont Bay, Lake Ontario.
The hatchery’s original wooden building burned down in 1955 and was replaced with the block and brick structure still in use today.
Bath Hatchery features an outdoor educational area with three kiosks that explain the history of the hatchery, provide a descriptive map of the fish species and waters stocked, and detail the life history of fish and stocking methods.
Self-guided tour brochures are also available. A display pond with adult fish is located adjacent to the parking area, and a picnic area is available on-site.
The Bath Fish Hatchery, located at 7169 Fish Hatchery Road, a mile north of the village of Bath, Steuben County, is open daily from 8 am – 3:45 pm, year-round. Admission if free. For more information call (607) 776-7087.