Anglers visiting Crawford State Park are lucky to find a variety of sport fish in Crawford State Fishing Lake to spend an afternoon pursuing. To help ensure healthy numbers of each fish variety, the Farlington Fish Hatchery oversees the production and distribution of 11 fish breeds to Crawford State Fishing Lake.
Soon after the lake’s completion in the early 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, construction of the supporting fish hatchery began just to the north. However, the hatchery’s completion was delayed by World War II, finally coming into operation soon after the war.
As with fish hatcheries across the country, Farlington Fish Hatchery allows conservationists to manage, restore, and protect fish populations in local waters. They work to complement habitat conservation of the lake itself. Farlington specifically rears channel catfish, blue catfish, largemouth bass, redear sunfish, hybrid sunfish, striped bass, striped bass hybrids, walleye, sauger, saugeye, and grass carp in 30 earthen ponds at the hatchery. Mature fish are relocated to Crawford State Fishing Lake to retain good numbers for sport fishing and the general health of the population.
The hatchery has undergone several improvements in the last 30 years, including a “fish house” for hatching, sorting, and holding fish, rebuilding pond dikes to patch leaks, construction of water control structures and harvest “kettles” to better collect small fish from the ponds.
Farlington is one of 4 hatcheries and 1 rearing pond in the state of Kansas. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism reports that the hatchery system produces 39.5 million fry, 3.5 million fingerling, and 385,000 intermediate fish for stocking in Kansas public waters annually. These are good numbers to hear if you are a local angler. The Department also releases an annual Fishing Forecast to help anglers find the best locations based on each variety of sport fish. 2017’s report is now available online.
Tours of the Farlington Fish Hatchery are available by prior arrangement by calling 620-362-4166. April and June are the best times to find a variety of fish in the fish house. Most fish are reared in ponds and are not readily viewable, but those in the fish house can be easily seen.