While driving to see what was around Branson, we stumbled upon the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery. Located south of Branson off Hwy. 165, you can't miss it as it sits just below the Table Rock Dam.
There are many large fish "tanks" that have a variety of sizes of trouts being raised to stock the local lakes throughout the Ozark Mountain area. As visitors walk around the open area, there are signs to explain how fish are bred and raised until their release.
It was interesting to see some of the tanks loaded full of very small minnow sized fish ("fingerlings").... so many that you could really only see the swirling black mass in the water. As they grow, the fish are separated out to give them more space. They are moved probably three or four times before they are eventually netted and placed into a tank on a truck that will transport them to their final lake destination.
This fish hatchery produces over one million fish annually! This is the largest in the Missouri Department of Conservation system and is the most visible of their trout preservation program. There is also a visitor center on site that provides additional information about the fish hatchery and conservation programs.
Summer hours are from 9am to 6pm and there is no admission fee. Visitors do have the opportunity to buy fish food from small vending machines to throw into the tanks. It was fun to watch the fish come up to eat the food pellets as they were thrown into the water.
If you have an hour or two, we would recommend a stop by this interesting educational facility.