Friday, April 6, 2018

Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery

With wind gusts predicted up to 31 mph this afternoon and freezing temperatures tonight we decided we should get out early if we were going to do anything today.

The Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery in Branson is the largest trout-rearing facility operated by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

They produce more than one million trout each year.  Both rainbow and brown trout are raised at the hatchery.

Fish raceways.

Most of the trout go into Lake Taneycomo.  The remainder of the fish are stocked in other Missouri trout management areas or Missouri’s trout parks.  All fish are released for public fishing.  No trout are sold.

Twenty-five cents for a hand full of food.

1,500 pounds of food is fed daily.

Fish coming up to eat.  Netting keeps the predators out.

Construction of the hatchery began in 1957 and production of trout began in 1958 with the completion of Table Rock Dam.  This dam created Table Rock Lake.

Table Rock Dam.

Missouri’s state bird - the Eastern Bluebird.

Eastern Bluebird.

As the skies got darker and darker, we took advantage of the hiking trails.  There were a few birds out and about.


 Fish Crow

 Lesser Scaup (Drakes)

 Red-shouldered Hawk

White-breasted Nuthatch

There are some very nice displays inside the hatchery visitor center. 

This large aquarium is 30’ long, 6’ wide and 3’ deep.  The acrylic panes are 2 1/2 inches thick.  It holds 3,500 gallons and is kept between 48 - 52 degrees F.

There was a wonderful display about litter in our waters along with this turtle that had been found with a plastic 6-pack ring around it’s middle.  (I have been cutting up my 6-pack rings for years - it just takes a second or two).

* * * WARNING - If you find snakes creepy - quit scrolling down now!  (Serene Matthews - you have been warned) * * *

There were several different snakes.  I found it a little sad that they were in such small containers.  There wasn’t any indication of how the hatchery acquired them.

Two-headed Western Ratsnake

Osage Copperhead

Speckled Kingsnake

Eastern Tiger Salamander

After a very expensive lunch at Gettin’ Basted (BBQ), we drove around a little to see some of the interesting architecture.

King Kong

Restaurant entrance

Mount Rushmore with Fake Celebrity Heads


The weather held out until we got back to the trailer.  We had been back about 30 minutes when the winds hit and the temperature dropped 20 degrees in about 10 minutes.

We have one more day here.  The weather is supposed to be much better tomorrow.


  1. Ha! Guess I'm not too subtle in my fear of snakes. Thanks for the warning!

    I always cut my plastic rings too - have forever. Too bad about the turtle, hopefully it gets along well.

  2. The turtle is probably lucky he's living in an aquarium with easy food and no predators.
    I'm not a big snake fan either.

  3. The Eastern Bluebird is beautiful.
    Thanks for warning Serene about the snakes. Interestingly, Serene's mom is okay with snakes, but is totally freaked out by mice. Serene is freaked out by both.

    1. I'm ok with mice outside but NOT in the RV. Remember the pack rats we had at Ladd Marsh? Monsters!