Channel Catfish are reared at Lost Valley Hatchery for urban fishing. St. Louis- and Kansas City-area lakes are stocked April thru September. It takes 2-3 years to produce the requested size of channel catfish for this program.
Broodstock channel catfish are not kept at Lost Valley Hatchery. Channel catfish fry are received from Chesapeake Hatchery, a state hatchery in southwest Missouri. Approximately 175,000 channel catfish fry are stocked every year at Lost Valley Hatchery in several ponds in June and July at 25,000 fish per acre. These fish are fed a floating high protein dry diet once a day several times per week. Dissolved oxygen and pond temperatures are monitored daily. Weight samples of the fish are taken every three weeks. Feeding is stopped on these ponds in November. The fish remain in these ponds thru the winter.
In April of their second year, the ponds are drained and the fish are graded to three size groups. These fish are weighed and measured. The graded channel catfish are transferred and stocked in several one-acre ponds at 5,500 fish per acre. If there are any extra small channel catfish after stocking the production ponds, the small catfish are used to meet other catfish requests.
These channel catfish are fed a floating larger size high protein dry diet pellet. A feed blower is used to quickly feed the many ponds. Ponds are monitored daily and weight counts are collected every three weeks to check on their growth and to adjust the amount of feed they are fed.
Thirty thousand of these second year channel catfish will reach the requested size of 14" - 16" at 1.0 - 1.25 pounds each this second year. These fish are stocked during the months of August and September. The remainder sixty thousand of channel catfish are fed thru November and are held over the winter and will be stocked during the months of April - July of their third year.
At time of harvest the ponds are drained, the catfish are weight counted and measured. The catfish are then netted into a bucket and lifted out of the pond and put into six 500 gallon tanks on a large truck. Oxygen and aeration are provided to these fish on these long trips as they make their way across Missouri to their new lakes in the Kansas City and St. Louis areas. A total of 90,500 channel catfish are stocked each year at these urban areas.