ohio dnr fish hatchery

The Aquatic Visitors Center is made possible via the Ohio Sea Grant. This freshwater field laboratory is owned by The Ohio State University.  Guests can expect an informative visit at this Put-in-Bay attraction.  Learning and having fun together.

Aquatic Center History

Here, the State of Ohio used to use this building as a Fish Hatchery.  This occurred between 1907 through 1988.  Consequently, this is part of the oldest freshwater field station in the United States.  Stone Lab operates with this center.  It is located on Gibraltar Island.  Over the 80 years, the hatchery-raised many fish species.  Walleye, whitefish, herring, perch, steelhead, chinook salmon, and coho salmon were among the varieties.

Then, in 1992 ODNR transformed the building into the Aquatic Visitors Center.  Moreover, the goal was to provide an educational opportunity.  Also, to preserve the history of the Hatchery for future generations.  Then, in 2009 the Ohio Sea Grant took over the management of the facility.  Most importantly, they continued teaching the public.  Most notably, how we need to preserve our greatest natural asset, Lake Erie.

Aquatic Center Research

Here, they are working on the pressing concerns of the lake.  These include the most recent worries: green algae.  Additionally, they research fish populations.  So, this gives them data to project the health of the ecosystem.  So, they can suggest changes based on data.  Then, it’s on the government to act.

Things to Do
  • Learn about Lake Erie’s ecosystem
  • Observe the lake’s creatures through a microscope
  • See live fish
  • Learn about research
  • Explore and learn about the old fish hatchery
  • Ask questions about Lake Erie

A trip to Put-in-Bay is fun for the family.  Still, learning can be done.  Here, at the Aquatic Visitors Center, guests can learn and have fun at the same time.  So, be sure to stop in.  You’ll be glad you did!


Chris G: “Very cool place to learn about fish and see live fish in tanks. They had all kinds of giant live fish from Lake Erie and a lot of information about the hatchery that used to be there. It was awesome and better yet it was FREE. They also offered free fishing for kids under 15.”

Brad H: “Nice little environmental center. Great place to stop with kids, they offer free fishing on the pier behind the building. Friendly and knowledgeable staff.”

Jennifer S: “Took the kids to the Bay for a day trip. We heard they had free fishing for the kids. When we arrived we enjoyed walking thru the center learning about the fish in the Lake. We also learned about the invasive fish that are being found in the lake. The kids grabbed a pole, they even baited it for them! My kids caught a total of 4 fish! They had a great time everyone was very knowledgeable and friendly. Would definitely recommend it!”

Mike D: “We stopped by on a day we rented a golf cart. Out of the way from most of the hustle and bustle of the island. Nice little inside learning center with fish tanks and info on breeding. Outside on the dock, they have free fishing for the kiddos. Didn’t catch anything, but they had a great time. Nice little out of the way surprise.”


After a long day of learning about Lake Erie and its islands, some rest will be in order. Reserving a Put-in-Bay Cabin is a great respite.  Here, the comforts of home beckon guests to relax and unwind.  So, set the watches to island time and watch the worries fade away. Besides, with so much to do on the island, you may want to spend an extra night so you can get the full island experience! Make sure you book fast because weekends tend to fill up fast in the summer. The sooner you book, the sooner you can get on a Put in Bay ferry!