Open daily from 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Buford Hatchery allows visitors to view one-half million trout, both brown and rainbow, being reared to stock into Georgia’s designated trout waters. Located on the banks of the Chattahoochee River in Forsyth County, this hatchery is a fun and informative environment for the whole family. Visitors can take a tour of the hatchery on Saturdays at 1 p.m. and can even feed the fish during that tour. The state property also features the Lincoln Sparrow Nature Trail (open 8:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.). This birdwatcher-friendly trail is a quarter-mile loop that includes a spur trail to a boardwalk, which leads to a wetland observation deck. A variety of songbirds and waterfowl may be seen along this trail at different times of the year. Trout anglers can also park outside the hatchery fence and walk around its perimeter to fish in the Chattahoochee River behind the hatchery.
Buford Hatchery continuously pumps water from the Chattahoochee River immediately below Lake Lanier’s Buford Dam for its trout production, and returns all hatchery water to the river. Natural processes in Lake Lanier throughout the year can affect the water quality downstream of the dam, especially in the fall. This, in turn, can affect hatchery operations.
Read a description of the annual water quality changes that occur in Lake Lanier (and many other Southeastern reservoirs). Former WRD biologists Bill Couch (Buford Trout Hatchery Manager) and Reggie Weaver (Lake Lanier Fisheries Management Biologist) developed this information.