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Loa Fish Hatchery Is One of Utah's Best

One of Utah's oldest fish hatcheries still has one of the state's best water supplies and continues to provide fish for anglers across Utah.
Operated by the Division of Wildlife Resources, the Loa State Fish Hatchery is located in beautiful Wayne County, three miles north of Loa.

Land for the hatchery was purchased in 1931, and the hatchery was constructed in 1935 and 1936. Through the years, more land and water rights were purchased.
The hatchery was completely renovated in 1961, and through an agreement with the Fremont Irrigation Company, the available water supply was increased nearly 70 percent.
The hatchery has not had any major construction since 1961 and is one of the oldest fish culture facilities in Utah.

Water supply
The hatchery has one of the most dependable water supplies in Utah. The total flow is nearly 6,000 gallons per minute and never varies, even during this current drought.
The water comes out of the ground on site, so no pumping is required. Geologists have hypothesized that this constant flow suggests a "distant source and substantial storage." Adding to the question of its source is the fact that the water temperature varies among individual springs, "suggesting some complexity in the source or flow path."
No matter where it comes from, it's ideal for raising fish. The cooler springs (54 F.) are used in the hatchery building, ideal for the care of eggs and fry. The main, warmer spring (59 F.) is used for production when the fish are older.
At this temperature, the fish grow as much as 1.5 inches per month.

Fish production
The Loa State Fish Hatchery produces several species of fish, but more than 90 percent of its production consists of rainbow trout. The hatchery also supplies brown trout fingerling, tiger trout (a brook trout, brown trout hybrid) and is the major producer of the popular splake (a brook trout, lake trout hybrid).
The hatcheries' 13-year production average is 685,000 fish and 135,000 pounds. In 2003, it produced its all-time high of 162,000 pounds. Fish from the hatchery are stocked statewide.

Whirling disease, sanitation
One important aspect of raising fish is sanitation. All the hatcheries throughout Utah have very strict sanitation/disease prevention protocols. This is especially true at the Loa hatchery, due to its proximity to the fish parasite Myxobolus cerebralis, better known as whirling disease. If this parasite or any other restricted pathogen (including bacterial and viral diseases) infects a hatchery, all of its fish must be disposed of to prevent the spread of the infection.
Whirling disease was first discovered in Utah in 1991 in a private fish hatchery 1/4 mile downstream from the Loa hatchery. For 13 years now, the hatchery has remained whirling disease free. Equipment used from the hatchery is never brought back into it. Fish barriers have been constructed at the tail end of the hatchery to prevent upstream migration of infected fish. Flood control structures have also been constructed to help prevent contamination of the hatchery from an irrigation canal carrying water from a whirling disease positive reservoir upstream from the hatchery.
Even with these precautions, fish from the hatchery are stocked in select waters that would not cause a severe impact if the stocked fish happened to be infected. This includes a growing number of waters already infected with the parasite and "dead-end" fisheries (which are waters at the end of drainages).
Efforts to control less severe pathogens are a daily objective at fish culture facilities. Cleanliness of raceways, regular disinfection of equipment, reduction of stress of any kind to the fish, and treatment of fish with antibiotics if they do get sick, are just some of the strategies used to prevent the loss of fish.

Hatchery still produces many fish
Even with the potential disease problems, the Loa hatchery continues to play a big role in Utah's statewide fish culture system. Over the last four years, the hatchery has produced an average of 19.2 percent of the total pounds of fish stocked in Utah.
For more information about the hatchery, call (435) 836-2300.

Article provided by the Utah Department of Wildlife Resources

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