Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation

Conservation that connects

Looking beyond the expected to ensure a thriving natural world


Aquaponics & Fisheries

Almost from its beginnings as Max McGraw’s private weekend retreat, McGraw has raised freshwater game fish and released them into the Foundation’s lakes, providing an on-site laboratory into the healthy propagation of walleye, smallmouth and largemouth bass, muskies, pike, and other species.

Over the years McGraw’s fisheries biologists have led or co-led dozens of studies on aquaculture, all designed to raise healthier fish effectively and efficiently. Their findings have benefited government-run fish hatcheries that stock public waters across the country, as well as commercial fish farmers who sell to restaurants and food distributors. And perhaps the biggest beneficiaries are McGraw’s members, enjoy world-class fishing on the Foundation’s lakes.

For more than 15 years, McGraw’s biologists have tried to find ways to raise fish during the winter months, allowing fish hatcheries to produce healthy fish year-round. Since 2017, the focus of their research has been aquaponics, the science of raising fish and vegetables in a controlled environment. This groundbreaking research holds enormous potential for private and public fish hatcheries worldwide, and will benefit recreational anglers for generations to come.

Working out of McGraw’s Ken Wegner Family Center for Aquaponics Research, the team also has raised hundreds of bushels of delicious lettuce for McGraw’s use. In addition, our director of fisheries research and management, Gordy Gotsch, has developed a program to bring low-cost aquaponics into the classroom.