New Trout Hatchery at Briceville School
in Coal Creek

(Keep reading down the page for progress and photos!!)


Tennessee’s newest trout hatchery is located in the science lab of Briceville School.  Volunteers from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), Coal Creek Watershed Foundation, and Clinch River Chapter of Trout Unlimited helped students install a 55-gallon aquarium that is equipped with a filter and chiller to maintain the desired water quality and temperature for raising trout fry.

Here’s the plan for the new hatchery:


Duane Oyer and
Ricky Bean
of TWRA helped set up the
aquarium and
chiller system in
of the arrival
of the trout
eggs that TWRA
will furnish for
the Briceville

Read article in the Clinton Courier News

TWRA will furnish about 200 rainbow trout eggs to the Briceville School Hatchery in mid-February.  Water temperature will be maintained in the aquarium between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit.  Within about 3 to 4 weeks, the trout will hatch and grow to the point where Briceville students will start feeding them.  The trout are expected to grow about ¾-inches per month.  By mid-May, the trout fry should be between 2 and 3 inches long. 

Students have been warned that the biggest problem with raising trout from eggs is over-feeding and that the trout fry should be fed only as much as they can eat.  Students will sample the water in the aquarium and test for pH, nitrite, nitrate, ammonia, and dissolved oxygen about twice per week to verify that the desired water quality conditions are being maintained.  A tentative weekly schedule for tank cleaning is planned, but the actual schedule may be modified as needed based on the measured water quality parameters.

Water sampling kits

Map of Coal Creek and the
Clinch River Tailwater

In mid-May, the entire school will participate in the release of 25% of the trout fry to Coal Creek at the school (i.e. Coal Creek at the mouth of Slatestone Creek).  During their annual history/ecology field trip, the 4th and 5th grade classes will release 25% of the fry at Joe Day Bridge downstream of the confluence of Beech Grove Fork with Coal Creek, 25% in the spring-fed Right Fork of Coal Creek, and 25% in the Clinch River tailwater below Norris Dam.

Soon after the time of their release, the temperature of Coal Creek will warm to the point where the fry will need to migrate downstream to the Clinch River tailwater to survive.  Although the habitat in the Right Fork of Coal Creek is not ideal, water temperature should remain within the survivable range.  The fry released directly to the Clinch River will have the greatest chance of survival from a standpoint of water temperature, but may be more susceptible to predators.

Duane Oyer, TWRA Hatchery
Manager is providing the trout
eggs and helping us learn how the
process works

Ricky Bean (R) Wildlife Technician with TWRA
reviews the graph for setting up the
aquarium and chiller system with one of
the Briceville students

Our goal is for some of the trout fry released to Coal Creek to return to spawn after they grow into adults.  Even if the experiment for releasing trout fry to Coal Creek is not successful, we expect that at least some of the trout released from the Briceville School Hatchery directly to the Clinch River will survive and become part of the tailwater ecosystem.    

Before releasing any non-native species to a stream, impacts to the native species should be considered.  As part of our planning, fisheries biologists from TVA, TWRA, and UT were consulted to verify that our proposed release locations should not adversely impact native species, particularly those species involved in the on-going Coal Creek Restoration Project

The consensus from the fisheries biologists was that our proposed release locations should not adversely impact native species because trout can survive in Coal Creek only during colder months of the year.  The potential for trout to use Coal Creek as spawning habitat during colder months of the year, and the educational benefits from getting Briceville students involved in the hatchery project, justifies the small risk that introduction of trout will adversely impact native species in Coal Creek.     

During future years, Briceville students may elect to start their hatchery project in the fall with release of fry earlier the next year.  Releasing the fry during colder months of the year will provide them with more time to migrate to the cold water of the Clinch River tailwater.

Volunteer Daniel Thacker, computer
specialist with OrthoTennessee, assisted
with the set up.  Here he shows the students
how to wash the rocks before placing
in the aquarium

Students washing the rock before
it is placed in bottom of aquarium

Additional photographs of the Briceville School Hatchery Project are shown below.  Briceville students will add more photos as the trout eggs hatch and grow.

Volunteers assisting with the effort include:

Duane Oyer, Buffalo Springs Hatchery Manager, TWRA
Ricky Bean, Wildlife Technician, TWRA
Daniel Thacker, Volunteer, OrthoTennessee
Barry Thacker, PE, Coal Creek Watershed Foundation and Clinch River Trout Unlimited
Carol Moore, Coal Creek Watershed Foundation and Clinch River Trout Unlimited

L to R:  Briceville School science teacher Gladys Stooksbury, Carol Moore, Ricky Bean, Daniel Thacker, and Duane Oyer

Briceville principal Karen Cupples discusses the new trout hatchery system with science teacher Gladys Stooksbury

Barry Thacker instructs the students on why and how the trout hatchery will work at Briceville

Volunteer Daniel Thacker teaches the students how to test the water in the aquarium

TROUT EGGS ARRIVE!!  On February 11, 2009, Duane brings the little Trout eggs to their new home. Eggs in the
Water tested before eggs are placed in aquarium

Briceville 4th graders get to witness the placement of the trout eggs into the aquarium basket


Compare these two photos!





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