Warren County's fish hatchery churned out nearly 50,000 trout and salmon this year, and provided invaluable assistance to the state Department of Environmental Conservation as it tries to keep native brook trout and Lake George Atlantic salmon viable.
The hatchery put nearly 24,000 rainbow and brook trout in Warren County waters under the county's annual stocking program for anglers.
But the hatchery has also been working with the state in recent years to produce more "heritage" strain brook trout for Adirondack waters, and to help grow salmon for Lake George.
Hatchery manager Tim Benway said the facility in Warrensburg also produced 11,240 "Horn Lake" strain brook trout that were stocked in ponds and streams in Warren County. Horn Lake strain brookies are one of 10 strains of the threatened native fish still present in the Adirondacks. many of the places they are stocked are so remote the 4-inch fish must be carried in by backpack or stocked from the air via helicopter.
Lake George's Atlantic salmon fishing is much improved in recent years, and that improvement coincides with a couple of DEC decisions from several years ago. The state switched salmon strains to a strain from Maine that has proved more hearty, and thousands of the fish stocked in Lake George spend several months growing in Warren County's hatchery before they are put in the lake.
That allows them to grow from 7.5 inches when they leave the state hatchery to 10 inches, when they are stocked each fall in Lake George, helping their chances of survival. Benway said just under 3,000 salmon spent the summer in the Warren County hatchery, and were then stocked in the lake earlier this month.
Benway said the Warren County hatchery's ready supply of cold water that is needed by brook trout and salmon prompted the state to look to use its rearing tanks.
-- Don Lehman