aquaculture originated with the State Fish Commission and the Federal
government. The State built their first fish hatchery at Brown Spring near St.
Joseph and the Federal government developed the Neosho hatchery in 1888.
However, attempts at commercial aquaculture soon followed.
During the early 1920s, several farsighted entrepreneurs made attempts to
culture trout in Missouri's many springs. The spring areas in Missouri were
unique because most had already been developed to supply power for grist mills
and these areas were the gathering places in the Ozarks. The evolution from
utilitarian use to raising trout for recreational purposes was natural. One of
the first commercial ventures was a small trout hatchery. It was started by a
Tulsa dentist named Dr. Furrow at Bennett Spring. In 1924, he sold the facility
to the State of Missouri. Dr. Furrow and a partner from Tulsa, F. Lawrence
Bailliere, located another site for raising fish at the village of Wet Glaize in
Camden County. This hatchery was the birth of Ozark Fisheries, Inc., one of the
oldest and largest continually operating facilities in Missouri. Trout were
raised at Ozark Fisheries for two years; however, the
venture was not profitable. During the 1920s a fad of keeping goldfish in a bowl
was fueled by the establishment of pet departments in many of the major chain
stores such as S.S. Kresge and Woolworths. The owners of Ozark Fisheries
realized an opportunity and made arrangements to start raising goldfish. They
have been in the goldfish business ever since. Currently, Larry Cleveland, a
third-generation member of the Bailliere family, is the president of Ozark
During the same
era, two German immigrants, H.K. Welpman and A.F. Fagen, started Missouri
Goldfish Company in 1929 near
Stover. In the early 1950s, Missouri Goldfish was the first in the United
States, or anywhere else for that matter, to domesticate and breed the golden
shiner. Missouri Goldfish is still in operation under the guidance of a
third-generation family member, Randy Welpman. Ozark Fisheries and Missouri
Goldfish are the earliest to sustain extensive pond culture in Missouri and
probably in the United States. There were few if any other private fish culture
facilities except for the trout hatcheries located at many of Missouri's
During the early 1950s, Jim Kahrs, a Missouri native and a recent graduate in
Fisheries from Oregon State University, realized that opportunities existed for
raising and selling fingerling fish for restocking in farm ponds and other uses.
Osage Catfisheries was begun in Osage Beach and has grown into one of the most
successful fingerling and fry operations in the United States.
Bayless Taylor and Bill Flowers were pioneers in fish farming in southeast
Missouri. Both established farms near Dexter which have grown and are now
operated by their children.
In 1951, Mary
Alice and Dwight Emerson purchased a spring near Ava and began to realize the
problems in developing a viable
business. However, their efforts were rewarded and Crystal Lake Fisheries is now
one of the largest trout farms in Missouri.
In 1954, Lile and
Edith Amyx purchased the town of Rockbridge which included the old mill, general
store, bank, spring, and
fishing stream. Rainbow Trout Ranch and Rockbridge Gun Club is the result of
their hard work and is well known throughout the Midwest as a prime vacation
spot in the Ozarks.
near Cassville, was originally owned and developed by Dr. M.L. Blankenship in
the 1930's. It was later owned
and further developed by the Pottebom family in the late 1950's. Today, Robert
and Rosemary Krause and family continue to produce trout for stocking. They also
maintain an area of the facility for those interested in fishing.
Troutdale Ranch, near Gravois Mills was purchased by Allen Gates and his family
in the mid 1960's. Allen was familiar with the
trout operations in Idaho, and realized the potential of trout for Midwest
markets. He also invented the boned method of processing trout. Dennis and
Merritt Van Landuyt purchased Troutdale Ranch from the Gates family in 2002 and
have renovated and renamed it Troutdale Farm.
Gene Peroit from
near Golden, Missouri and Wayne Lucke of Lucky Lakes near Palmyra were early
fish farmers who developed many techniques to make fish farming less difficult.
Gene Peroit always had a new trap or different method for harvesting fish from a
pond. This innovation and diversity continues in today's producers.