ROAD TRIPPIN' Manchester: Trout Hatchery

Photo: Matt Hammill.

MANCHESTER, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) - If you've ever seen the look on a five-year-old's face as they catch the first fish of their life, then you understand why Dan Rosauer loves his job.

As a fisheries biologist and manager of the DNR Manchester Trout Hatchery, he sees that smile on kids of all ages almost every week. The spring-fed runs amid these rolling hills have been raising fish since the 1890s.

Today, the hatchery produces all of the trout in Iowa. Hundreds of thousands of Brown, Brook and Rainbow trout. from the time they are just eggs, gently extracted from brood stock, to the point where they've grown to an 11 to 13-inch catching size and are stocked in Iowa's many beautiful trout streams.

Dan says it's all about making the resource available to the state's thousands of avid sportsmen and women, " The biggest overall goal is having satisfied happy anglers, knowing that we're making a difference for the anglers of Iowa, being out there being able to catch our fish."

It turns out, raising those trout actually lures people to the hatchery. It's become one of the most visited sites in the area and if you're there at the right time, it's a little like a Piranha feeding frenzy on the Amazon, but nobody gets hurt.

Biologists use a nutrient balanced food for the trout and when it hits the water the surface erupts in hungry mouths as the trout jump and splash in an effort to get their fair share.

Kids squeal at the sight and can even grab a cup of fish food to toss in as they tour the area.

While many of the runs here hold small fry, and the catchable size fish ready for stocking, on the far end of the hatchery there is a big surprise when visitors see the Loch Ness Trout! They're actually Rainbows that were used last year for eggs. Unlike salmon, which die after laying eggs, trout continue to live and grow. Some of these are nearly two-feet long!

Dan says out on the streams, these are making for some great fish stories, " The goal for a lot of us when we stock them is to kind of slip them in where people don't see them and then hopefully they're catching some of our 11 to 13 inch fish and then you hook into the monster.

That's just a whole different level of excitement when you throw that big fish out there. " While the quality of Iowa trout streams is improving to the point that some are now capable of naturally reproducing trout, for now the Manchester Trout Hatchery still plays a critical role in managing this natural resource and with the help of a staff that takes pride in the work here and is happy to answer questions, it's a great learning experience for the entire family.

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