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“Jim Frey’s Fish Hatchery is not all about money… I do it because I like the outdoors, and I enjoy helping others with their ponds.”

After having spent an entire day fishing at our family farm pond, with no success, I decided that there had to be a better way.  I could see that there were several large fish of some kind moving across the bottom in a school. Soon after, I met with several Iowa DNR officers.  I told them that I was going to build a pond at my home in West Union, Iowa, and buy a net to manage the new pond and also the family farm pond the way that I thought they should be managed. The officers told me that I couldn’t do this without a fish hatchery license.  This is how Jim Frey’s Fish Hatchery was started in 1974.  It was my intention that this was just going to be a hobby.  As soon as I got my license, I found that most every pond in my area was in exactly the same condition as our family farm pond.  My goal then became to help establish better fishing in Northeast Iowa.  It now has expanded throughout the Midwest to include Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois.  Over the last 48 years, I have learned through experience, as well as reading every article I could find on the specific issue that I was working on at the time. I learned how to apply it to our situation and location.

Jim Frey from Jim Frey Fish Hatchery


Licensed by the Iowa DNR, we specialize in Bluegill and Hybrid Bluegill, but all other species are available. Our spawning ponds are drained in the fall, and the spawners are held in holding pens in our 5 acre quarry lake.   It is 36’ deep, has excellent water quality, and an aeration system which ensures sufficient oxygen levels for the fish.  This ensures that our spawners are in excellent health for stocking in the Spring.  These fish have been selected as the biggest and best from each years’ crop.  I have been doing this for 47 years.  The fish, which I purchased as my original brood stock, were also selectively chosen for many years.

Seining at the fish hatchery.After the fish have spawned, the fingerlings are then moved to the quarry. They are held in pens and fed a high protein commercial feed.  The fish are periodically graded for size and the pens are adjusted for the density of fish in them.  We have also built a floating raceway, which can pump up to 2000 gal. per minute, and is the heart of the aeration system at our quarry.  The raceway also serves as a growing facility for larger fish.

Our Iowa fish hatchery offers fish for stocking and related supplies and equipment.  Please visit our "About Our Fish" page where we go more in-depth about our hybrid bluegill and other fish.   We also offer custom floating docks.  My years of experience in  aquaculture have enabled me to offer my valuable knowledge in the areas of pond design and consulting.  I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

The main workforce consists of my wife Diane, my son Russell and daughter-in-law Dawn, my grandchildren and myself.  We have a list of young people, 12 years and up, whom we hire when we need additional assistance.  Jim Frey’s Fish Hatchery is not all about money, I do it because I like the outdoors, and I enjoy helping others with their ponds.