A 500-pound giant sturgeon is the big draw at a fish farm's new visitors center near Buhl.

Clear Springs Trout Co. built the facility to accommodate the 50,000 people visiting the farm along the Snake River each year."We get a lot of tourists that come to the area for other reasons and want to stop by the hatchery to see how we operate," farm operations manager Terry Huddleston said. "We realized there was a need for a facility where visitors could learn more about what we do."

Huddleston said a viewing pond and landscaped picnic area was finished in September 1990 at a cost of about $400,000. The company plans to build a gazebo, a paved parking lot and entrance roads, an audio-video center and outdoor signs explaining fish hatching and raising captive brood stock from a wild fish strain.

But Huddleston admits the sturgeon is still the big fish in the pond. The fish - which can live to be 300 years old - is almost 11 feet long and was caught in the Snake River in the 1940s.

Now, it swims its slow circles in the company of huge wild trout and other fish.

"We recognize that we are a user of a water resource that's valuable to the community," Huddleston said. "So we wanted to return some of that to the community. We want to educate people about our industry."