Rainbow trout caught from the bank of Lake Taneycomo.
Every year, the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery produces between 350,000 and 400,000 pounds of trout. Both rainbow and brown trout are raised at the hatchery with 80 percent of production going into Lake Taneycomo. The remainder of the fish are stocked into other Missouri trout management areas. Construction of the hatchery began in 1957 and production of trout began in 1958. The completion of Table Rock Dam by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers created a large, deep lake that varies in water temperature from surface to bottom. The water near the bottom stays cool, averaging 48 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. During hydroelectric generation, cold water is released into Lake Taneycomo. Although the cold-water release caused the loss of the native warm-water fishery, it created the ideal environment for trout, a fish that thrives at lower water temperatures. Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery is the largest trout-rearing facility operated by the Missouri Department of Conservation. It is located six miles southwest of Branson on Highway 165 just below Table Rock Dam.
Approximately three miles of hiking trails are available on the hatchery grounds. Some of these trails also provide fishing access to Lake Taneycomo. There are two picnic areas located in the area that are available on a first come, first served basis. Boat access to Lake Taneycomo is provided by a concrete boat ramp. From the Shepherd of the Hills boat ramp, it is five miles downstream to MDC's Cooper Creek Access. This is a popular float, especially when electricity is being generated from Table Rock Dam.
NOTICE TO PUBLIC: The Shepherd of the Hills Conservation Center and Fish Hatchery is closed to visitors while a new Conservation Center is being built. The new center is scheduled to open in 2025. Please continue to check our website and watch for periodic updates during this time.