Hatchery Steelhead... yes or no?

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Panhandle, Jul 6, 2007.

  1. Panhandle Active Member

    Posts: 4,103
    Selkirk Mountains, Idaho Panhandle
    Ratings: +23 / 0
    I know this is a sensitive subject, so try to be civil and intelligent in regards to your responses. I consider myself a conservationist and hold the rehabilitation of Native fish as top priority. However, I'm caught in a conundrum of also seeing the virtues of hatchery fish. For one, I like fishing for them, and without hatchery fish many of us wouldn't be fishing for steelhead at all. I know, I know, "if you cherish native fish that much than you'll sacrifice your own selfish needs." Well, I guess I'm selfish then and human for that sake. Without hatchery fish many guides that 'you' hire wouldn't have jobs. It's kind of like saying you don't want trees cut down but you want a 3000 sq. ft. cedar home, or soft toilet paper. How do you weight in here? Be cool.
  2. James Mello Inventor of the "closed eye conjecture"

    Posts: 2,787
    Tacoma
    Ratings: +88 / 0
    I've been in this quandry too, especially when it comes to darker fish. The bright ones are easily dispatched as I can rationalize both helping the wild fish and also getting good food out of it. The darker ones are a quandry, and even more so the drop back spawned out ones... For the latter, I haven't come up with a good idea on how to behave, but as time goes on I'm more inclined to remove them and keep them, rather than let them go....
  3. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,636
    Dillon, Mt
    Ratings: +1,664 / 0
    If everybody kept all the Hatchery fish that they caught there wouldn't be anything left for the CnR boys. As it is some of the hatchery's put back excess fish for you to all try to catch again. When I fished in that state I did the CnR thing as I hate the taste of fish. YUK. Everything that I happen to catch here goes right back into the water.

    I just fish for the fun of it. I'm not a meat hunter.

    Jim
  4. Milt Roe Member

    Posts: 396
    Taco Ma
    Ratings: +14 / 0
    Given the listings, how can we justify the widespread practice of stocking hatchery fish that we know is detrimental to wild steelhead and is not a necessary requirement of our modern society? I'd rather see a wild steelhead than catch a hatchery steelhead.
  5. Bones24 Member

    Posts: 59
    Yakima, Washington
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Panhandle,
    I guess I am selfish like you. I like to catch whatever kind of fish I can whether it be hatchery or native. I practice catch and release on every fish I catch. Like Old Man, I just enjoy fishing.
  6. James Mello Inventor of the "closed eye conjecture"

    Posts: 2,787
    Tacoma
    Ratings: +88 / 0
    In some cases, the wild stocks are functionally extinct. Without hatcheries, there really wouldn't be any fish... But for the runs that are struggling and do have some vestages of a native run, I'm definately on board....
  7. Flyborg Active Member

    Posts: 2,299
    Kalama, WA
    Ratings: +597 / 0
    That's why for myself, it depends entirely on what river I'm fishing.
  8. Gary Thompson dirty dog

    Posts: 3,891
    East Wenatchee, WA
    Ratings: +131 / 0
    I'm all for hatchery fish. Keep the bright ones and C&R the rest. Or C&R all if you choose.
    Restocking is another matter and should be done to restore depleted stocks.
    Any hatchery steel head that spawns and those babies live to return are wild fish.
    Save the habitat!!!!!!!
  9. Zen Piscator Supporting wild steelhead, gravel to gravel.

    Posts: 3,076
    Missoula, MT
    Ratings: +13 / 0
    I would rather they leave hatchery fish out of the rivers. Systems that need the extra help should receive endemic broodstock smolts to bolster the wild popular. C&R could apply for everything then. I don't have any problem with that.

    I really dislike hatchery fish when you put them next to their wild couterpart.
  10. Zen Piscator Supporting wild steelhead, gravel to gravel.

    Posts: 3,076
    Missoula, MT
    Ratings: +13 / 0
    The genetics that these offspring receive are detrametal to the entire gene pool, hatchery steelhead that spawn sucessfully do much more harm than good.
  11. Dave Hartman is tired of trout

    Posts: 591
    Whitefish, MT
    Ratings: +51 / 0
    Good subject Panhandle!
    I, too, am often caught up in the hypocrisies of our sport. I love fishing more than just about anything else, and I'll justify it to no end to someone who argues that it's wrong ("You're HURTING them!). But it doesn't mean that we shouldn't spend time thinking about the flipside. Truth is, if we really cared only about the proliferation of wild fish, we would do everything in our power to see this through, and that means NOT putting hooks through their mouths and NOT exposing them to (debatable) CnR mortality rates, not walking in rivers (gravelbeds, redds), etc.
    However, that's just not gonna happen. If no one fished, there wouldn't be the public support and money to save our fish/rivers. And that most certainly includes the bait guys, gearheads, pluggers, etc. In fact, despite their reputation (that they don't care so much about the resources) they drop WAY more coin into the equation than fly fisherman do.
    And this is kinda how I look at the hatchery fish dilemma. If it weren't for hatchery fish, there would obviously be very, very few fish. And that would mean very, very few fisherman. Which, of course, would mean very, very little money, interest, and political clout in saving the resources that we do have. So for now, I think they are a necessary evil. And, in my experience, a hatchery catch sure is welcome after spending days/weeks without catching anything, (DAMN YOU CLEARWATER!!!).
    That said, I think there is room for improvement. I'd love to see hatcheries taken out of particular rivers and the money instead re-directed towards wild-fish. I'm even a fan of completely shutting down a river from ANY kind of fishing in order to make such a project more successful.
    Just my two cents. . .
  12. Snake tryin' not to get too comfortable

    Posts: 621
    between the mountains and the sound
    Ratings: +1 / 0
    The way I fish, I'm not much of a threat to steelhead, nates or brats............bawling:

    That said, however, I feel the conflict, too. Since it appears that nate runs will continue to decline, I personally don't mind having hatchery fish supplements, but I wish there was some way to mitigate any potential damage to the wild fish population brought on by hatchery supplementation.

    I'll bonk a brat given the chance, maybe, depending on whether I can use it for food, but I think killing any wild steelies should be punishable by death.
  13. Snake tryin' not to get too comfortable

    Posts: 621
    between the mountains and the sound
    Ratings: +1 / 0
    iagree

    How about sterile hatchery fish? Would that work? Can you imagine triploid steelhead??!!
  14. James Mello Inventor of the "closed eye conjecture"

    Posts: 2,787
    Tacoma
    Ratings: +88 / 0
    More accurately it has been proven that hachery male + hatchery female stock or wild male + hatchery female or hatchery male + wild female all have significantly lower rates of survival. Why this is, I don't know, but I do know that the data is there to show it.... And it's not just a little bit lower, but *significantly* lower.

    As for the viability and usefulness of hatchery fish, that is a huge debate. The quality of fishing on rivers like the Kalama, Cowlitz, and most eastern Columbia tribs would go to hell without the huge plants they recieve. I can only image how bad the fishing would be on the Salmon and Clearwater without the plants put in the river, and how bad the backlash would be from the fishermen in those areas...

    Who knows, maybe that would be best for the long run???? As is though, the chance that wild fish could *thrive* in the current Columbia river environ is pretty much answered by NO. Unless there are serious changes to how the dams are operated for downstream survival of the smolt (something like 10% or more mortality per dam!), very little can be done to keep the fishing up without those plants of hatchery stocks....

    Another possbile poll based on this is to decide to cut and run on rivers that are quote unquote "doomed", or is it best to keep up the good fight?
  15. James Mello Inventor of the "closed eye conjecture"

    Posts: 2,787
    Tacoma
    Ratings: +88 / 0
    Apparently they've tried it with Chinook.... They never return as they never have the sexual urge to reproduce... The apparently get pretty damn big though!

    As for hatchery sexing, I'm more for them just trying to make all hatchery fish female.... Since males are not monogomous, and are capable of multiple spawnings, even with wild males making it with hatchery females, the chances are that there will still be wild on wild action *somewhere*.... Beside the females tend to be better table fare and have the added benefit of producing yummy eggs...
  16. Be Jofus G Banned or Parked

    Posts: 2,051
    Washington
    Ratings: +53 / 0
    When they take the gill nets off of the tribes and stop the commercial canadians from fishing our runs and leaving their own runs alone then I'll be all for cutting off the hatchery fish.
  17. Panhandle Active Member

    Posts: 4,103
    Selkirk Mountains, Idaho Panhandle
    Ratings: +23 / 0
    Just out of Curiosity Andy, and I'm not being a dick here, how many native fish have you caught in ratio to Brats on the rivers you fish? Would you be willing to sacrifice not fishing those rivers so that the Natives could replenish themselves? Keep in mind, these rivers would most likely be closed down for your lifetime.... kind of like rehabilitating grizz and wolf population in our generation. No more pics for you:p
  18. KerryS Ignored Member

    Posts: 6,716
    Sedro Woolley, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +1,759 / 0
    Most of the steelhead I fish for are native runs. On the few rivers I fish that do have hatchery steelhead like the Skagit, Ronde or the Stilly the large majority of the steelhead I catch from these rivers are native fish. They can close down the hatcheries and I believe it would have little affect on my fishing. Now if after the closing of the hatcheries the powers that be say they need to close the river to fishing; so be it.
  19. Panhandle Active Member

    Posts: 4,103
    Selkirk Mountains, Idaho Panhandle
    Ratings: +23 / 0
    Kerry, it sounds like if they shut down the hatcheries we'd all be fishing with you.:D
  20. Paul Huffman Lagging economic indicator

    Posts: 1,419
    Yakima, WA.
    Ratings: +132 / 0
    James - I'm interested in learning more on this. Do you have references?