ERWIN, Tenn. (WJHL) — When you think Erwin, many things may come to mind, hiking, rafting and probably festivals celebrating fruits. But what about trout production?

“We’ve been raising trout on this site since 1897,” said Tyler Hern manager of the Erwin National Fish Hatchery.

The program has evolved a lot in the last 125 years.

“Our main focus is a program now called the ‘National Broodstock program,’ that’s where we raise trout to produce eggs and ship those eggs all over the country,” said Hern.

It’s a 2-week process with 5 employees. Shipping 18 million eggs per year to 32 hatcheries in 21 different states.

“You could be fishing in Arizona or Nevada and be fishing for trout that started right here in Erwin,” said Hern.

Some of the trout stay in Erwin, which is also home to a state hatchery on the other side of town operated by the TWRA.

“We raise the Rainbow Trout for all the streams from Cocke County to Johnson County,” said Wildlife Hatchery Manager Cory Jones.

It’s a 9-month process at the state hatchery which was started in 1949. 80 to 100 thousand trout come through raceways in a year before the three employees return them to the lakes and streams of East Tennessee.

“Our eggs come from the Erwin National Hatchery and go to a sister hatchery of ours called Buffalo Springs Hatchery and then those eggs once hatched and get to three to five inches they bring them here and we raise them up to about a pound,” said Jones.

Two different fish hatcheries are providing a valuable service connected by the Erwin community.

“We’ve had a great partnership for as long anyone can remember with the town and with the county and it’s really a draw for the community,” said Hern.

Including tourism, the grounds of the Federal Fish Hatchery are open to the public.

“If you want a guided tour to have a dedicated tour guide then call ahead. Folk can come and use the picnic facility or walk around. It’s a really great place. We have nice flat green areas to recreate,” said Hern.

At the same, the hatcheries create more opportunities for anglers all over the country.

“Our trout program is huge. The Broodstock program we are the largest egg producer in the country right now. We supply more trout eggs than anyone in the government,” said Hern.

The Erwin National Fish Hatchery is located at 520 Federal Hatchery Road and is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3:30 pm.