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Ronan's report

Sunday November 4th, 2007

One thing we all agree on, I'm sure, is that one wild trout is worth more than a truckload of stew pond stockies. I tend to think of wildness as integral to the whole fly fishing thing. Otherwise it's just another game. I draw a pragmatic distinction between 'wild' and 'native' though. Without the introduction of trout around the world we'd be a lot poorer, materially and in spirit. For instance, I can't imagine New Zealand streams without trout in them.

John Dean hustles in a wild South Island brownie.

Last week I said wildness is a state, not a trait. Well, now I'm not so sure. I came across a report from Oregon fisheries scientists that indicates that hatchery reared 'wild' fish aren't as successful at spawning as their stream-reared siblings.

This is pretty sobering news if you believed that if you took eggs and sperm form wild caught fish, and reared the progeny for release in their native rivers, you'd get 'wild' fish. It appears that within a generation or two the capability for successful spawning starts to erode. Like domestic chickens, hatchery rearing is changing the nature of steelhead and salmon. And I'd guess this extends to any hatchery reared sport fish.

The even more sobering aspect of this is what this means for truly wild stocks. Now, since over 90% of steelhead caught in the States and Canada are hatchery reared, this paints a pretty bleak picture for the concept of rebuilding wild stocks. Just off the top of my head, I'd say it makes a strong argument for those genetic reserves. I mentioned last week. It might even mean that some of these pure remnant stocks might have to be given complete protection - even from us.


Pic Of Day

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