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About Us

The Friends of the Norfork National Fish Hatchery is a nonprofit citizens group chartered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to support and promote the hatchery.  As a citizens group, the Friends group is able to promote the Norfork National Fish Hatchery in a manner that the hatchery, as an agency of the federal government, cannot do for itself.  

 

The Norfork National Fish Hatchery was established in 1955 and is a cold water hatchery primarily for the production of trout to restock the tailwaters below Norfork, Bull Shoals and other dams. The hatchery is responsible for raising three kinds of trout: rainbow, brown and cutthroat. In addition, Norfork National Fish Hatchery also provides trout to reservoirs and in cooperation with state game and fish agencies, distributes fish throughout Arkansas and other nearby states. The Hatchery's geographic area covers eastern Oklahoma and the White River Basin in Northern Arkansas. 

 

The Norfork Fish Hatchery is the largest hatchery in the National Fish Hatchery System, and provides the most economic impact of any National Fish Hatchery in the country.  The hatchery is the economic driver of Baxter and Marion Counties for fishing, lodging and retail sales. In 2012, the hatchery provided $91.1 million dollars of economic output, and created 994 jobs in the state. The Norfork National Fish Hatchery is also the most visited tourist attraction in Baxter County with nearly 250,000 visitors annually.

 

The Norfork National Fish Hatchery produces 500,000 lbs of Rainbow, Brown and Cutthroat Trout annually from its 96 raceways.  This number represents over 2.5 million fish being released recreationally per year in Arkansas and Oklahoma, with 92% of Norfork Hatchery fish being released back into Arkansas waters.      

 

Over 7,000 annual visitors fish Dry Run Creek each year.  This one of a kind stream is filled with trout, including some monsters that get caught each day.   For kids under the age of 16 and mobility impaired individuals, it would be tough to find a better place to come wet a line and have a great chance at catching a true wall hanger (of course we ask that you take a picture and release the fish to be caught again as this is a catch and release area)!  Bring your camera and the kids and use either the handicap accessible platforms built to fish specific holes or try your hand at getting out into the water and wade for the day.   

 

The Norfork National Fish Hatchery hosted 15 area schools last year, nearly 1,000 kids, who visited the hatchery for fishing, fly tying and fish biology classes.  During the summer months, the Friends of the Norfork Hatchery puts on many events tailored around children and trout fishing including Trout Camps, Fishing Derbies, Hatchery Outdoor Adventures and Fly Tying Classes.  

 

If you feel that the Norfork National Fish Hatchery is important to the economic and recreational well being of fishing, the State of Arkansas, and Baxter and Marion Counties, we would like to envite you to;

 

Become Our Friend Here!

 

See Upcoming Hatchery Events!

 

Learn More Facts About The Norfork National Fish Hatchery Here!

 

Click here to see the 2013 Annual Kids Fishing Derby Video

 

Click here to see the 2013 Kids Hatchery Outdoor Adventure Video



Board Members

Leon Alexander ~ Past President

Upon retiring as industrial sales engineer, Leon Alexander moved to Norfork, AR in April 2005 from the Memphis, TN Area. Here, he played a pivotal role in founding the Friends of the Norfork National Fish Hatchery group and was elected Vice President upon its establishment. In 2011, he was elected President and continues to serve in this capacity. Leon has also served on several other councils and board of directors, including Treasurer of the Southern Council of the Federation of Flyfishers from 2006 – 2009, Board Member of Friends of the Norfork and White Rivers from 2006 – 2009, Chairman of Baxter County’s Dissolved Oxygen & Environmental Committees, and former Secretary of Mid-South Flyfishers, where he is still a life-member.  Since his retirement, Leon has received multiple awards for his commitment to aquatic resource conservation. Some of his awards include being the recipient of the Southern Council of the Federation of Fly Fishers “2007 Conservationist of the Year” award, the Mid-South Fly Fishers “Lifetime Achievement Award”, the Southern Council of the Federation of Fly Fishers “2008 Man of the Year” award, and the USFWS Southeast Regional 4 Director’s “Volunteer of the Year” award.


David Lemoine ~ President, through 2017

David first visited the Twin Lakes area in 1974, fell in love with it and soon thereafter called it home.

Currently David is a journeyman toolmaker working for over 39 years at Micro Plastics in Flippin, Arkansas.

David has always been very involved in serving the community.  Some of his contributions are as follows:

  • Co-founder for the local chapter of the NWTF (Ozark Ridge Runners)
  • Twin Lakes Gun Club and NRA member for 42 years.
  • Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation member
  • Friends of the North Fork and White Rivers member
  • Served on Baxter County Quorum Court from 2003 to 2013
  • Helped establish Fellowship Church of Mountain Home
  • Serves as a Gideon
  • Current director, and your new President, of the Friends of the Norfork National Fish Hatchery

Having traveled 42 states in this great nation, hunting and fishing some of the best areas throughout, David comments,"When you consider all that the Twin Lakes area offers the sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts, you immediately realize how very special the Twin Lakes area is.  Our great location (Midwest one day's drive), long fair weather cycles, and plenty of free public access makes the quality experience of a White and North Fork river fishing trip hard to beat."

This highlights the fact that the Norfork National Fish Hatchery, and protecting our rivers, are key components not only for our economic prosperity, but also vital to perpetuating the Ozarks lifestyle.

Protecting, promoting, and doing all we can for the hatchery is our focus here at Friends of the Norfork Fish Hatchery.  I'm pleased to serve you.


Scott Sillence ~ Vice President, through 2018

United States Air Force, Law Enforcement, Corporate Internal Security, Major Organized Crime Investigator, District Loss Prevention Manager and Director of Risk Management for a major retail company in Florida, Owner of Gene’s Trout Fishing Resort and President/CEO of North Fork River Resorts, Inc., Salesville City Councilman/Alderman, President of White and North Fork Rivers Outfitters Association, Rotarian of the Rotary Club of Mountain Home and acting Programs Chairman, and Host Parent to foreign exchange students for the past 10 years.

Scott is a Master Scuba Diver and Underwater photographer with over 764 recreational dives recorded. Scott is single, Protestant, and enjoys helping others succeed in life.


Steve Loughridge ~ Treasurer, through 2017

Steve started out fishing with his dad in southeast Idaho on the South Fork of the Snake River, in Montana on the Gallatin and Madison Rivers, and in Yellowstone Park on several rivers.  Steve’s love of fishing continued in Washington state where he received a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering at UW.  His career took him to Colorado, California and Pennsylvania as a Process Engineer, Plant Manager, and Operations Manager in the chemical manufacturing industry. Always looking for a river to fish, he enjoyed Colorado’s Eagle River during his free time from managing a plant in Littleton.

Steve and his wife Sandra vacationed here in 2002 and fell in love with the White River, vowing to come back for retirement. They returned in 2007, built a house over the beautiful White River, and spend as much time on the river as possible.  However, other activities vie for Steve’s time:  church, his daughter and three grandsons, and gardening plus other “chores” in the house and on the property.

A few years ago, he helped out with Trout Unlimited, tagging trout at the fish hatchery.  When the opportunity came up to support the hatchery by being on the board of FNNFH, he decided it was time to get more involved.  Steve firmly believes that we must do everything we can to keep the hatchery open, upgrade the visitor center at the hatchery, and get kids and their parents involved with fishing the beautiful White and Norfork Rivers.


Julie Raines ~ Secretary, through 2017

Julie grew up on a small lake in Missouri, where she inherited a love of fishing and nature from her Dad.

She and her husband, Steve, have operated His Place Resort on the White River in Cotter since 2002. Julie has a 2 yr. degree in Electronics Engineering Technology, and was the first female Electrical Maintenance Mechanic for Stouffer Foods, where she eventually met her husband, Steve.

Prior to moving to Arkansas, Julie was a software implementation consultant of ERP systems for small to mid-size manufacturing firms out of Austin, TX; working both for other companies and running her own firm, JLR Consulting. 

In addition to the Friends, she is serving Ozark Mountain Region, one of our state funded Regional Tourism Associations, on the Board of Directors and on the internet committee.

As is the case with many, September 11, 2001 was the catalyst that made her realize that a major life change was in order.  She shut down her business, found the resort, and moved with Steve to Arkansas by early 2002...  and hasn't looked back since!


Pat Smith ~ Board Member through 2018

Actively involved in Fly Fishing since the 80's, our Pat is a founding member of Damsel Fly Fishers and multi-time Woman of the Year honoree by the Federation of Fly Fishers-Southern Council (FFF-SOC), and now works full time for them.

She has also received the Award of Excellence and President's Award from the FFF-SOC.  In addition, you already have some idea of everything she currently does for the Norfork National Fish Hatchery, Sowbug Roundup Co-Chair for Fly Tying. 


Jay Chafin ~ Director, through 2016

Jay, a Northeast Arkansas native, as well as a local State Farm agent, enjoys the great outdoors throughout the many states he has lived. Whether it’s the Wetlands of Louisiana, or the majestic mountains of Colorado, one thing Jay and his family are passionate about is the conservation of our natural resources! He is married to his beautiful wife, Christine, and has two kids ages 5 and 9. Jay feels honored to be serving on the board, and looks forward to educating our community on  the resources and economic impact the Hatchery provides. He will work hard to ensure the Friends of the Norfork National Hatchery continues to thrive offering fishermen of all ages one of the best fishing experiences in America, right here in our backyard! 


Mike Jirka ~ Director, through 2017

Mike graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1969 with a BS degree in Medical Technology and worked 41 years in that field.  Mike was also of draft-able age in 1971 so he joined the National Guard and stayed in the Army and Navy Reserve program for 24 years as a medic / corpsman with a specialty in the clinical lab.  His last 10 years was spent working in a University Hospital where we performed forensic lab work for the county coroner.  Mike and his wife retired in Mountain Home to work on their bucket lists before it is too late.  Mike is still a lab rat he says and as a main hatchery volunteer, he takes weekly dissolved oxygen measurements at the Hatchery measuring the efficiency of the new oxygen aerators that your generous contributions have made possible for our hatchery's raceways.