2014 is going to be a banner year at the Allegheny National Fish Hatchery.
Larry Miller, project manager at the site run by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said this week that operations have commenced "on our biggest production year in our history for lake trout."
"We plan to raise 1.2 million juvenile production lake trout and will have a total of 3 age classes of brood stock on station, the most we ever held here."
The need for more lake trout is also the result of good news.
"Conditions in lakes Erie and Ontario, according (to) the Great Lakes biologists from New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and the Province of Ontario are looking better for lake trout and they requested more juvenile fish from us for stocking in 2014 and 2015."
The hatchery currently has lake trout in all phases of life.
"We have eggs in the incubators, fry in the indoor tanks and yearlings and brood stock in the covered raceways, so everything is going," said Miller. "We will soon have our four wells redeveloped so we will be ready for the big production cycle.
"We also plan on being at this year's Warren Outdoor Show at the Mall in January," he added. "So we are looking forward to a good year."
In late 2012, adult lake trout broodstock fish were spawned at the Hatchery for the first time since the facility was shut down in 2005 due to the detection of a viral fish disease that necessitated depopulation, disinfection and extensive facility repairs and upgrades at the 40-year-old hatchery.
In November 2011, the 2,200 then-five-year-old brood stock lake trout were the first to move into the renovated raceways near Kinzua Dam.
The hatchery operations at the Allegheny National Fish Hatchery are part of a federal, multi-state and Canadian effort to restore lake trout population to the Great Lakes following years of decline that resulted from pollution, overfishing and sea lamprey predation which have or are being addressed cooperatively.