New tanks arrive for hatchery


By Josh Howald

It wasn't quick and it wasn't easy, but the Kincardine Fish Hatchery has two new tanks.

Two new finishing tanks arrived at the fish hatchery Friday afternoon. (Josh Howald photo)


A pair of giant finishing tanks arrived in Kincardine on Friday afternoon on a flatbed pulled by a tractor trailer. The tanks, which measure 10-feet by 10-feet by 4-feet and weigh more than 880 pounds each, will eventually be the final stop for hatchery trout before being released into Lake Huron.

Matt Luckhart, one of the volunteers that helps operate the Kincardine hatchery, had been anxiously awaiting the new tanks since Tuesday. The current tanks have been in use since the hatchery opened in 1992, and the new, larger finishing tanks should mean larger, healthier fish. The current tanks were built by a company in nearby Desboro that has since closed its doors. Only one manufacturer of the hatchery tanks remains in Canada, on the east coast - so that's where the tanks were coming from.

They were expected to arrive on Tuesday. And Wednesday. And Thursday. Friday, volunteers at the hatchery were pleased, and a little relieved, when the truck pulled in early in the afternoon.

"The town works department deserves a special thank you for their patience," said Luckhart, adding "as well as for unloading them for us. Without them, and the support of the town, this would have been far more difficult."

And the worst part of it may not even be over yet. A bit of work remains, including the removal of three intermediate tanks. The plumbing for the supply and drains will have to be changed and new seals made. Air stones and air blower piping will have to be prepared and installed. New feeders and transformers will have to be made and a new power supply added. New lighting will have to be built and wired to hang over the tanks and an emergency oxygen supply must be fitted as well. And all of this work will be completed by volunteers.

Luckhart was optimistic that the tanks could be ready to go and hold this year's class of rainbow trout in November.  Anybody interested in helping out with the project, or at the hatchery in other ways, can contact Luckhart via e-mail at

Support, in the way of funding, came from a few different sources including the Power Workers Union, the Ontario Steelheaders, the Ontario Community Hatchery Program and two different arms of the Ontario Federation of Hunters and Anglers. The total cost is roughly in the $15,000 range.

Since the fish hatchery started stocking, the fish population has skyrocketed. In 1988, there were 5,000 trout counted over the fish ladders of the Saugeen. Last year, there were 58,000 trout that came over the ladders.

"We are now raising rainbow trout as well as brown trout." explained Luckhart. "The size they grow to before release is putting a strain on the fish."

The fish will now be able to grow larger and be healthier after time in the finishing tanks - which are significantly larger than any of the tanks currently in use at the hatchery.