A natural spring that runs deep through the forest in Grey County is playing a big part in raising local trout.

The Kolapore Springs Hatchery uses the flow from the spring to help fish spawn. The water moves through a series of dams and into the hatchery that was originally built in 1962.

"We're totally gravity feed,” says Bruce Green. “We're fed off of three different springs."

Green and his business partner Sean Brady bought the hatchery seven years ago and brought the operation back to life.

“This is an old school hatchery. The new ones have stand-up incubators with 200,000 eggs.”

Instead the eggs hatch in homemade trays. They're then moved to small troughs and then to large cement tanks, as they grow.

The final spot is the raceway, where the trout continue to grow until harvested.

The spring water is constantly flowing through each step of the process. The fish feed on natural nutrients and tiny fairy shrimp found in the spring.

“It's the enzymes in the fairy shrimp which they take from the algae, which really gives the fish bright red, orange colour. Feed companies have copied the enzymes to get the colour in the fish.”

It's at least a two year process, slightly longer than commercial fish farms. That's because the spring water is colder – no more than 11 C. This means it takes longer for the fish to grow.   

“Our fish are so nice and firm, they don't lose that because of the temperature.”

The trout are sold to grocery stores and high-end restaurants across the province, including Blue Mountain Resort.

It's a sustainable operation with the larger trout kept for spawning year after year.