Oklahoma City maintains the state’s only municipal-run fish hatchery, which enriches lakes, ponds and lives. The hatchery restocks lakes around OKC and encourages a new generation to take up fishing. 

Bob Martin tests the water at the Fish Hatchery. Photo/Shannon Cornman - SHANNON CORNMAN
  • Shannon Cornman
  • Bob Martin tests the water at the Fish Hatchery. Photo/Shannon Cornman

Oklahoma City’s Parks and Recreation Department stocks more than half a million fish a year into the city’s three lakes and other bodies of water across the city.

The city’s fish hatchery was reopened in 1983, and it’s where Bob Martin, a fisheries biologist for OKC, along with two staff members and a team of volunteers, cultivates a variety of fish breeds that will end up in Lake Overholser, Lake Hefner or Lake Stanley Draper.

“We are the only city [in Oklahoma] that operates a fish hatchery,” Martin said. “We have a complete fisheries program that includes fish culture, fish management, surveys, aquatic education and our fishing classes. And we do a lot of extension work that helps people who might call and say they have a problem in their own pond.”

Martin joined the hatchery in 1982, after it had been closed for several years. The facility, north of Lake Hefner, was renovated and reopened. It includes six ponds roughly an acre in size and is home to hundreds of thousands of fish that the city receives from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

The city requests nearly 1.2 million fish each year, and the parks department gets priority from the state because they are the only municipal hatchery, Martin said.

Parks officials hope to encourage fishing across the city, including at the eight close-to-home waters that include Dolese Youth Park Pond and Route 66 Park Pond. A children’s fishing education program that serves around 600 children and 400 adults also is offered each year.

“There’s been a trend in recent history that the number of fishing permits has been on a decline,” Martin said. “We have gone from a rural to urban community, and now we are seeing a change in recreation where kids spend too much time indoors. [The education program] is a way to encourage fishing as a recreational sport.”

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