A federally supported facility occupying approximately 250 acres, the Orangeburg National Fish Hatchery has been described as a well-kept secret in the community.
As one of two federally supported hatcheries in South Carolina — the other being on Wadmalaw Island — the fish hatchery has played a vital role in preserving the state’s aquatic life and one of its largest recreational activities: fishing.
The hatchery has two units. The main station is located on Lakeview Street just outside the city limits of Orangeburg, while the substation is on Cannon Bridge Road south of Orangeburg.
Established in 1911, the hatchery is overseen by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It is part of a network of more than 70 federal fish hatcheries located across the country.
The hatchery is a warm-water fish hatchery, where fish are reared in approximately 27 earthen ponds in temperatures ranging from 60 degrees to 85 degrees.
The hatchery produces a variety of freshwater fish, including striped bass, redbreast sunfish, bluegill sunfish and shortnosed sturgeon. They are stocked in reservoirs, lakes and coastal streams across the Southeast, according to the U.S. National Fish and Wildlife Service’s website.
The main station includes the hatchery offices, educational aquarium center, outdoor recreation and education area, and indoor and outdoor fish production facilities.
The substation is also used for fish production and includes a 100-acre reservoir for boating and fishing, as well as walking trails that offer opportunities for birding and outdoor recreation.
Federal funding has helped with structural issues at the hatchery, which completed an extensive renovation project on the dam at its Cannon Bridge Road substation in the early 2000s, along with the construction of an underground culvert at its main station on Stonewall Jackson Boulevard to assist with drainage for the area’s watershed.
To help enlighten the public on the importance of preservation and conservation, the fish hatchery sponsors tours and special fishing days for kids, senior citizens and those with special needs.
The Orangeburg National Fish Hatchery is open from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Weekend and special group tours of the hatchery can be arranged by contacting the hatchery office during standard business hours.
For more information about the hatchery, call 803-534-4828 during regular business hours. More information on the hatchery is also available at www.fws.org/orangeburg.