JW Facility

25410 Fish Hatchery Road
Topeka, IL 61567
(309) 968 –7531
Hours: Daily, 8:30 am – 3:30 PM
Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/REfMm43Wu1jFgTLm9
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JakeWolfHatchery/


Jake Wolf Memorial Fish Hatchery is located in Mason County five miles west of Manito, IL. The 160-acre site sits in the center of the 7,200 acre Sand Ridge State Forest. Located on the historic Illinois River Road, Jake Wolf is a popular destination for travelers and nature lovers alike. Two national wildlife refuges, Emiquon and Chautauqua, are within 20 miles of the hatchery and attract birders from around the country. Anglers will also find great fishing opportunities just minutes away from the hatchery at the surrounding state wildlife areas. Shore anglers can tussle with giant blue catfish and hybrid stripers at Powerton Lake, while boat anglers can target largemouth bass and muskie at Spring Lake North and Banner Marsh.


In the mid-1960s, non-native Chinook and Coho Salmon were being introduced into Lake Michigan as a method to control the invasive alewife, a shad-like baitfish from the Atlantic Ocean. What was initially an experiment to control an invasive species was extremely successful as the salmon thrived in the cold waters of Lake Michigan.  As salmon stocking efforts ramped up, Spring Grove Hatchery, Illinois’s first and oldest fish hatchery, was converted into a salmon production site in 1971. With the salmon gorging themselves on alewife and growing to immense sizes, Lake Michigan experienced an angling boon that birthed a multi-billion dollar sport fishery. With stocking requests for both salmon and native fish skyrocketing, the State of Illinois planned to construct a new hatchery; one capable of producing the high volume and diversity of fish needed to keep up with increasing demands.

On December 3rd, 1979, ground was broken on what would become Sand Ridge Hatchery, named after the Sand Ridge State Forest in which the hatchery was located. In 1983, construction was completed and fish production began. In 1985, Sand Ridge Hatchery was officially renamed to the Jake Wolf Memorial Fish Hatchery in honor of the late Jacob John "Jake" Wolf, former Deputy Director of Conservation. His seven terms in the Illinois General Assembly were marked with the passage of numerous conservation bills that benefitted Illinois sportswomen and sportsmen. In 1993, a visitor center with fish- and aquaculture-themed interpretive displays was completed on the top level of the existing hatchery building.

When the hatchery opened, Spring Grove salmon production ceased, and cold-water fish production became exclusive to Jake Wolf. In the first ten years, hatchery staff produced and stocked over 100 million cold, cool and warm water fish around Illinois. Since opening in 1983, the hatchery has produced over 500 million sportfish encompassing 21 species.   Now approaching its 40th year in service, Jake Wolf Memorial Fish Hatchery remains the largest of the three hatcheries in the state of Illinois.


JWProductionJake Wolf Hatchery is unique in that it simultaneously rears 16 species of cold, cool and warm water fish. Many hatcheries produce only warm or cold-water fish based on their water source. Jake Wolf’s water is supplied by the expansive Mahomet Aquifer, where ten wells can deliver 6,000 gallons of water per minute to the hatchery. The 54-degree aquifer water is the perfect temperature for the trout and salmon produced at the hatchery. During the spring and summer, aquifer water can be mixed with water from a 22-acre solar pond and pumped into the hatchery, allowing the facility to also raise cool water fish, muskellunge and Northern pike, and warm water fish, panfish, bass, and channel catfish.

Jake Wolf utilizes both intensive and extensive culture for fish rearing. Intensive culture uses prepared fish feed and maintains environmental quality with the use of a single pass flow of water through the tanks. Intensive culture allows the rearing of large numbers of fish in a small area, and results in a more predictable production. The facility features 56 start tanks, 14 circular tanks, 6 spawn tanks, 28 production, 7 brood and 6 quarantine raceways and an incubation room. Cold water fishes are produced solely by intensive culture, while cool and most warm water species are produced using a combination of intensive and extensive culture.

JWOverallExtensive culture uses natural food in a pond (such as plankton and minnows) to produce fingerling fish. The outdoor portion of the facility features 28 production, 7 brood and 6 quarantine raceways, plus 22 plastic-lined rearing ponds and a waste treatment system. Extensive culture uses natural food in a pond (such as plankton and minnows) to allow for natural reproduction and produce fingerling fish. The facility features 22 plastic lined rearing ponds ranging in size from ¼ to 1-acre.  Panfish, crappie, bluegill, and redear sunfish can naturally reproduce in the ½-acre ponds. The larger 1-acre ponds are utilized to grow out muskellunge, largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye and channel catfish.

In a typical year over 3 million fish encompassing 16 species are produced at Jake Wolf. Largemouth Bass account for nearly a million fish each year with cold water salmonids accounting for another million. Jake Wolf also produces and stocks Muskellunge, with over 300,000 fish stocked each year. At peak production, the hatchery can produce over 30 million fish.  Naturally reproducing populations of fish, successful stocking efforts and the changing needs of large fisheries (such as Lake Michigan) account for the lower production in recent years.

Jake Wolf is currently the only state facility in Illinois to rear and stock salmon and trout in Lake Michigan.  Over 20,000 Rainbow trout are also stocked each year as part of the IDNR’s inland trout program.  Newer programs include Alligator Gar rearing, freshwater mussel propagation and zooplankton culturing are also taking place.


Jake Wolf currently rears 16 species of cold, cool and warm water fish:

Cold water species:
Cool water species:


Jake Wolf offers many services to Illinois anglers and the general public. In addition to annual stocking efforts, staff are also available to participate in community outreach efforts, school programs and angling events upon request. A Visitor Center is located on the upper level of the hatchery and offers overlooks to view the different stages of fish production. Other attractions include: an antique fishing tackle display containing over 200 artifacts, a "Harvesting the River" exhibit depicting life on the Illinois River during the late 1800's and early 1900's, and several live fish displays. Hatchery tours are available 365 days a year. We do not sell fish to the public however; hatchery staff may be able to assist with stocking related inquiries.

The hatchery does not sell fish to the public; however, hatchery staff may be able to assist with stocking-related inquiries.  Information about private fish dealers can be found at https://www.ifishillinois.org/programs/fish_dealers.pdf.  Information about private pond management can also be found at https://www.ifishillinois.org/programs/aquatic_mgmt.html. For further information about private pond management, you can contact your district fisheries biologist at : https://www.ifishillinois.org/FAQS/biologists.html.

For hatchery information and/or tour reservations, please call (309) 968- 7531.