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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently stocked nearly 1.2 million redbreast sunfish into the Edisto, Santee and Black rivers.

Some 1,190,882 million redbreast fingerlings, which range in size from 1 to 3 inches and should reach a catchable size by the summer of 2006, were stocked in the Edisto, Santee and Black rivers during October. Counties where these stockings were made included Bamberg, Berkeley, Colleton, Orangeburg and Williamsburg.

All of the redbreast fingerlings stocked in the Edisto, Santee and Black rivers were produced at Orangeburg National Fish Hatchery. Mac Watson, hatchery coordinator for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Freshwater Fisheries Section, expressed appreciation to the federal hatchery for its help with South Carolina's fish stocking program.

"I would like to personally thank the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and its staff at the Orangeburg National Fish Hatchery for their cooperation in producing and stocking redbreast fingerlings for the sportsmen and sportswomen of South Carolina," Watson said. "The Orangeburg hatchery has been assisting us with these stockings for more than 25 years. Due to DNR hatchery closings and reassigning the remaining DNR fish hatcheries to 'priority' fish species production, the Orangeburg National Fish Hatchery is now the only fish hatchery in South Carolina producing this popular sunfish species. The Orangeburg hatchery annually provides the state with more than one million redbreast fingerlings for our public water fish stocking program."

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Freshwater Fisheries Section annually stocks from seven to 10 million fish in state waters, including striped and hybrid bass, largemouth and smallmouth bass, channel and blue catfish, bluegill, redbreast, redear sunfish (shellcracker), and rainbow, brook, and brown trout. Anglers in South Carolina spend almost $742 million to fish each year, making the sport, with economic multipliers factored in, a billion dollar business in the Palmetto State.

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources operates five freshwater hatcheries statewide: Dennis Wildlife Center in Bonneau, Cohen Campbell Hatchery in West Columbia, Cheraw Hatchery, Spring Stevens Hatchery in Heath Springs and the Walhalla State Fish Hatchery. The state freshwater hatchery program is an integral part of South Carolina's rich and varied sportfishing tradition.
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