Saint Marys State Fish Hatchery
eBird Bar Charts by Season
Tips for birding Saint Marys State Fish Hatchery
This state fish hatchery along the east side of Grand Lake originated in 1913, and presently includes more than 160 acres. Of this total, 43 acres feature 26 fish-rearing ponds. The roads between the ponds include both gravel and paved asphalt surfaces, and are usually open for public use. Hatchery hours for the public are given as 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays, although many birders visit on weekends during daylight hours. Bird habitat includes narrow mowed grass strips between ponds, a few larger lawn areas, and the ponds themselves. Gulls, terns, geese, and wading birds are often found on the grassy areas. When ponds are drained in the spring or fall, mudflats can be extensive and attractive to shorebirds and wading birds, but during the summer, this usually results in very brief mudflat habitat before totally drying up. Both diving and puddle ducks can be found on the ponds, depending on peak migration periods. To the east of the fish-rearing ponds are open fields and two large “natural ponds” that are open for hunting during regulated seasons (beware). When hatchery personnel are stocking fish or maintaining ponds, please avoid driving in such areas. While there formerly were employees having an interest in birds, the last few decades have not been sympathetic to the great birding potential of the hatcheries, or to birders— again, be respectful of hatchery operations during business hours.
Approximately 22 miles (by air) southwest of Lima; take I-75 about 15 miles south of OH-309 interchange in Lima and take Exit 110 west about 14.3 miles along US-33 and OH-29 to exit for Koenig Road (OH-364); turn left and proceed 0.5 mile south over OH-29 and to T-intersection with OH-364 and OH-703; turn left and proceed east 1.5 miles and turn right to continue south for 1.6 miles to Feeder Road on the left at outlet for Grand Lake; turn left and proceed east on Feeder Road for 200 feet and turn left into main road into hatchery. The main paved road runs one mile north and then east through the site.
Open all year during daylight hours.
The hatcheries are famous for rarities (some regular, some accidental) any time of year. Regular rarities have included scoters, godwits, phalaropes, avoces, willets, Laughing Gulls, Franklin’s Gulls, Snowy Egrets, etc. Accidentals include Wilson’s Storm-Petrel (1907), Smith’s Longspur (1944), Black Rail (1949), Yellow Rail (1952), Great Black-backed Gull (1952, 1954), Iceland Gull (1955), Sabine’s Gull (1956), and Glossy Ibis (1960). An excellent reference to birds in the area is, Birds of the Lake St. Marys Area, by Clark and Sipe (ODNR- Division of Wildlife, Publication 350, 1970).
From Ohio Ornithological Society
Birds of Interest by Season
Snow Buntings, Lapland Longspurs (frozen mudflats).
Waterfowl, wading birds, gulls, terns, shorebirds.
Wading birds, gulls, shorebirds.
Shorebirds, wading birds, gulls, waterfowl.
About Saint Marys State Fish Hatchery
Saint Marys State Fish Hatchery is located on over 160 acres in western Auglaize County on the eastern shore of Grand Lake Saint Marys. This facility, opened in 1913, was originally operated by the Western Ohio Fish and Game Association and was officially dedicated as a state hatchery in 1936. The hatchery has 26 ponds containing a total of 43 water acres. The facility also has two outdoor raceways and nine indoor rearing troughs. Water is supplied by Grand Lake St. Marys (5,000 gallons per minute capacity) and a well (375 gallons per minute capacity). This water supply allows the hatchery to raise saugeye, walleye, yellow perch, channel catfish, and largemouth bass. Production begins in the spring with walleye egg collection for the production of both walleye and saugeye. Also in the spring, yellow perch breeding adults are placed into hatchery ponds along with submerged trees that provide spawning structure for the adult perch. Once these three species are stocked into area lakes, the ponds are refilled and stocked with fingerling channel catfish and largemouth bass fry. In the fall, these fish are also stocked into area lakes.
To get to the hatchery, take OH-703 west out of the town of Saint Marys and then take a left on OH-364 for 1.5 miles; then go left on Feeder Road and the hatchery is 300 feet on the left.
From Saint Marys State Fish Hatchery webpage
No restroom facilities.