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Yalobusha Historical Society Minutes – Feb. 18, 2009

The Yalobusha Historical Society held its regular monthly meeting Feb. 18  in the Presbyterian Church in Coffeeville. There were 27 members and guests present. The opening prayer was spoken by Carl Vick. President Mike Worsham welcomed everyone, especially the speaker and other visitors. He invited everyone to take a look at the Lodge building, entering through the enclosed walkway connecting the two buildings. Weeks Vinyl Siding and Flooring has done a fantastic job on the walkway,  at cost, and we appreciate it greatly. Mike stressed he need for donations to cover the cost of paint and new carpet. Members may also offer free labor.Tax-exempt  donations may be sent to YHS, Box 258, Coffeeville, MS 38901. Contact Mike at 662-623-7360 for the Tax ID #. All help is appreciated,  whether money or labor. Membership dues of $20.00 may be sent to the same address.

   Program Chairman Opal Wright stated that the March 18 program will be brought by Artie Hoff, Interpretative Ranger for the U. S. Corps of Engineers and David Scobey, also a Ranger. They will speak on the history of Grenada Reservoir, and will show the film of the big 50-year anniversary celebration in 2004. The April program will be by the Bailey twins, Jean and Joan. They will speak on “Growing up in Coffeeville.” Opal then introduced the day’s speaker, Justin Wilkens, Manager of the N. Miss. Fish Hatchery and Visitor Education Center, one of three fish hatcheries operated by the Miss. Dept. of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. Justin’s program was, of course, on the Hatchery and Visitor Center.

  Justin was born in Minnesota, but raised in Watertown, South Dakota. He received a Bachelor of Wildlife and Fisheries Science from SD State University in Brookings, SD, in 2001. He earned his Masters in Wildlife and Fisheries Science in 2005 at MS State University.

   Justin began working with the  Miss. Dept. of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks in Jan. of 2005, as Manager of the Hatchery. It opened the following year.  It is located below the levee of Enid Lake in Yalobusha County. (it is visible from the Interstate)

  Justin used slides to take us on a tour of the Hatchery, from its attractive landscaping, including a waterfall and a pond, through the building and on to the final phase of operations. The Hatchery is open for tours in groups of ten or more. The best months to visit are March through June, when the hatching process is in full swing. Its Visitor Center features a 10,000 gallon fresh- water aquarium, an exhibit room with a collection of antique lures and fishing equipment and a display featuring the various state-record fish. There is an art gallery and a conference room, also. As the Hatchery’s title indicates, it is more than just a fish hatchery, but is also an educational facility.

  Justin then spoke of the working part of the Hatchery. The first step in hatching fish is to obtain the right kind of water. He said they get water from a deep well and from Enid Lake. It goes through a process that ensures maximum results. They obtain fish that are ready to spawn, gently squeeze the eggs into the water, add the milk from the male, and then start the actual hatching process.  The eggs hatch in as little as 34 hours, up to two weeks, depending on the species. The fingerlings are then moved to tanks, and in the final stage, to a pond. The tiny fish, only 1/8 to 1/4 inch, feed on plankton, so the water is fertilized prior to their being moved. The different species grow at different rates, and when they have reached the desired size, they are moved to public waters, such as rivers, lakes and reservoirs, depending upon the need to restock a particular population of fish. The MDWFS does not stock private ponds, but offers advice to
landowners who wish to do so. The Hatchery provides fish to be used in fishing rodeos.

  Justin spoke of the Paddlefish – also known as Spoonbill Cat. Its population, especially in the Tombigbee Waterway, has been on the decline, so the Dept. is re-stocking those waters. It is a very fast-growing fish,  and gets quite large. One interesting thing about this “sturgeon of the South” is that its eggs (roe) are sold as caviar, at a cost of almost $100.00 a pound. (the sturgeon is the most common source of caviar)

  Justin concluded his presentation with an interesting Q & A session.  One thing for sure: sport fishing is a very important part of our state’s history, and contributes greatly to the state’s economy. . There was much, much more to his program than is recorded here, and it is hoped that many of us can visit the Hatchery, and see first-hand what Justin talked about. It was all so very, very interesting, and we are very grateful to Justin for sharing the story of the Hatchery  with us.  We wish you and the staff at the Hatchery much success and prosperity in the future. Business hours are Monday-Saturday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Sundays 1:30 pm to 4:30 pmHolidays: closed. Admission: Adults (18-59) $1.50Adults (60 & up) $1.00. Under 3 free.

ATTENDING: Mike Worsham, B. B. Billingsley, Betty Miller, Thelma Roberts, Jimmie and Francine Pinnix, Opal Wright, Dot Criss, Joy Tippit, Joy Herron, Julia Fernandez, Dick and Jackie Weibley, Carl Vick, Ray Cox, Steve Cox, Tom Cox, Dave Hovey, Justin Wilkens, Mary Sue Stevens, Richard and Betty LaMantia, Tom and Alma Moorman, Kay McCulley, John Nelson and James Person.

Betty R. Miller


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