While shopping for a Father’s Day present, my six year old suggested that we buy a fishing rod for my father in law. I was surprised at first but then I remembered my daughter has seen pictures of her father at her age out fishing with his father. Her interest in fish and fishing is what propelled me to take her to a place I have early memories of visiting, the Fish Hatchery in Fillmore, CA.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife runs the Fish Hatchery and is open year round for visitors. They raise Rainbow and Brown Trout with the purpose of replenishing fish populations in rivers and lakes for recreational fishing throughout California. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife release 700,000 trout into local lakes and streams a year.
We arrived about thirty minutes before they closed the gates. We found we could have used at least 10 more minutes to walk around and see the trout. Both of my kids were fascinated by the amount of trout in the waters. The pools have a low ledge so that even the smallest of walking toddlers can look over and see the trout. Both my daughters and their 14 year-old uncle had a great time cranking the handle to get more fish feed which is provided free. It was fun watching the excitement in the kids’ eyes as they threw one or two pellets at a time into the water causing the fish to congregate.
Although we had fun, I wanted to know more about what I was looking at so that I could transfer that information to my daughters. There were no signs with information, any handouts or brochures. As parents and primary educators of our children it is important that we seize opportunities of curiosity and excitement to give our kids information to store in their long-term memory. Most of their senses were activated at the Fish Hatchery; the sight and smell of thousands of fish, the sound of the pumps moving the water vigorously, and lastly, the feel of the food pellets in their little hands.
To my surprise, the Department of Fish and Wildlife website provides educational resources such as curriculum and activity guides, posters, worksheets, handouts, and videos. Here you can find information about conservation and the purpose and function of hatcheries, about the trout’s natural habitat, life cycle and diet.
Before you go to the hatchery I would suggest you go over the activity handout A Trout’s Life in the Wild and in the Hatchery. It is easily adaptable for different ages. There are pictures to color, puzzles, and mazes to complete all relating information about the trout’s natural and hatchery lifecycle’s, diet and obstacles that trout face in nature.
When my daughter does go fishing, whether at a lake, stream or ocean, I hope that she remembers the importance in doing her part to preserve the natural environment around her.
Book List-- This list is a compilation of available books regarding trout that may be useful for the classroom or for educators.
My Healthy Stream – a book that describes in detail the importance of clean streams for the conservation of trout and other aquatic life and the role we play in it.