Tellico Trout Hatchery
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Tellico Hatchery was originally constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), between 1930 and 1941. It included six 25-foot circular pools and for many years was known as the Pheasant Branch Rearing Pools, because its water supply came from Pheasant Branch. Linear raceways and earthen pools, with a water source from nearby Sycamore Creek, were added in the 1940’s. More raceways were added in the 1960’s along with a water intake on Tellico River. The facility underwent major renovation in 1991-1992 and now has 28 main outdoor concrete raceways, one C-Series raceway, six concrete circular pools (not in use), a hatchery building, and two residences. Tellico Hatchery is actually a trout rearing facility (9-in. rainbow trout from Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery are transported to Tellico where they are then reared to a larger stocking size). A brook trout hatchery building was constructed in 1991 on one of the original circular pools. Southern-strain brook trout were hatched and reared at the facility for about three years as part of ongoing brook trout restoration projects in the Tellico area. The brook trout facility is still functional but no longer in use. The facility’s current water supply comes mainly from the Tellico River, Sycamore Creek, and to a lesser extent, Pheasant Branch. Unlike other Region IV trout hatcheries (Buffalo Springs and Erwin), which have spring-fed water sources with constant year-round temperature, Tellico Hatchery water temperatures can vary from as low as 32º F in winter to 72º F in the summer. As a result, trout growth is generally very limited during mid-November through late February.
Average annual production during 1999-2003 was 56,074 pounds of trout at an average expenditure of $207,404 per year ($3.70 per pound). In 2004, 133,499 rainbow trout weighing 87,132 pounds were reared and stocked from Tellico Hatchery. The majority (~82%) of trout reared at Tellico Hatchery are stocked in the Tellico River (about 73,000 annually) and Citico Creek (about 36,000 annually). These are intensive “put-and-take” managed streams that require anglers to purchase an additional daily permit to fish during the stocking season (March 15 through September 15). The remaining trout stocked from Tellico Hatchery go to Green Cove Pond and Polk County (Region III) streams.