| 2 min read | by Doug Marrin, |

Dexter’s Mill Creek Park

Dexter’s Mill Creek has been stocked with 2,700 brown trout in 2019. That is a lot of fish. It is, however, a drop in the bucket when compared to the impressive number just north of 21 million fish released by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) this year in Michigan waters. It means big money for the state.

Even if you’re not a person who fishes, like myself although I love to eat them after all the work has been done, the numbers involved in stocking Michigan’s public waterways in 2019, so far, are impressive:

  • 21,281,411 total fish stocked
  • 311 tons total of fish with new homes in the wild
  • 449 trips made by MDNR to stocking sites
  • 857 stocking sites
  • 2,693 hours to get the job done
  • 106,000 miles traveled

MDNR released 2,200 brown trout into Mill Creek this past April. Another 500 were released in May by Ann Arbor Trout Unlimited.


Michigan has six state and two cooperative hatcheries that work together to produce brown trout, coho salmon, steelhead, walleye and nine other species with one hybrid. The fish are raised to a specific size (5-8 inches) and delivered at optimal times and locations to ensure their survival and success.

MDNR stocking inland lake with fish | Photo courtesy MDNR

The numbers are huge, but its business as usual for Michigan’s fish hatcheries. With these numbers, it would seem we would soon be able to walk on water because of the packed density of fish. This is all done, however, to keep pace with demand, and keeping up with demand means big money.

According to Bridge Magazine, Michigan is second behind Florida in attracting out-of-state recreational fishing which generates $2.3 billion in commerce. Nearly 40 percent of sport fishermen in Michigan rely on stocked fish.

Here is what each Michigan hatchery provided this year:

Harrietta State Fish Hatchery (west of Cadillac) stocked 916,630 brown and rainbow trout that in total weighed 92,037 pounds. This hatchery stocked 263 sites (the majority located inland).

Marquette State Fish Hatchery (near Marquette) stocked 377,076 yearling lake trout, brook trout and splake (a hybrid of lake trout and brook trout) that in total weighed 51,901 pounds. This hatchery stocked a total of 107 inland and Great Lakes sites.

Oden State Fish Hatchery (near Petoskey) stocked 647,699 brown and rainbow trout that in total weighed 120,211 pounds. This hatchery stocked 168 inland and Great Lakes sites.

Platte River State Fish Hatchery

Platte River State Fish Hatchery (near Honor) stocked 3,090,753 fish that included yearling Atlantic and Coho salmon, spring fingerling Chinook salmon and walleye fry that in total weighed 155,696 pounds. This hatchery stocked 46 sites (the majority located on the Great Lakes).

Thompson State Fish Hatchery (near Manistique) stocked 6,944,722 fish that included yearling steelhead, spring fingerling Chinook salmon and walleye fry. These fish weighed 80,833 pounds in total. This hatchery stocked 58 sites (the majority located on the Great Lakes).

Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery (near Kalamazoo) stocked 6,233,314 fish that included yearling steelhead, spring fingerling Chinook salmon, Great Lakes strain muskellunge, walleye fry and channel catfish obtained from the Ohio DNR, that in total weighed 110,657 pounds. This hatchery stocked 84 sites (the majority located on the Great Lakes).

Lake Superior State University cooperative teaching hatchery (in Sault Ste. Marie) stocked 19,894 Atlantic salmon weighing 2,206 pounds into the St. Marys River.

Included in this year’s total fish stocked were 3 million walleye spring fingerlings. These fish are reared in ponds by the DNR and tribal partners, with extensive support provided by local sporting organizations. These fish were stocked at 110 inland lakes and rivers and Great Lakes sites.

Also included are 14,544 Lake Sturgeon fingerlings reared at stream-side hatcheries and released in various inland and Great Lake tributary streams.

In a state known for its lakes, great and small, it is no wonder that it would take a determined and robust effort to keep these places stocked with the fish that provide so much of the sport that people enjoy on these waters.


Leave a Reply