Interesting article: Why Montana went wild

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Chris Johnson, Jun 19, 2014.

  1. It was this fish biologists study that made me wonder why the ODF&W couldn't do the same thing. It took me years and meeting a lot of biologists (one was a fishing buddy) before I realized that Oregon is dedicated to the hatchery system and harvest. They are not interested in switching to wild trout in the least.
    Chris Johnson likes this.
  2. Yes, it is hard to convince people that given a chance mother nature can do it way better than us.
  3. It helps that the fisheries they have do not have a huge price tag on their heads and that the state has 1/7th the number of people. Do agree with you that mother nature can do a better job... but not likely when factors like this continue to go unchanged.
  4. That Montana work definitely had far reaching effects. Prior to the mid-1970s planting of catchable size rainbows was a common practice through out much of Washington. Over the next decade or so that practice was ended on many waters though generally those decisions were met by resistance by many users. Some of that resistance continues to today in some areas.

    Something to remember that for much of Montana the quality resident trout stream fisheries are rainbow and brown trout based fisheries. Both rainbows and browns will wild today are exotics in those waters and in many waters have replaces or severely impacts the native trout; cutthroat and bull trout.

  5. The ODFW field office in Springfield helped sponsor the Trout Study on the McKenzie so at least some of the bios know the rivers can support wild fish. Once they stopped stocking the 5 mile study section 2010, our study results showed around a 300% increase in the number of estimated fish per mile and angler catch rates in just four years. Here is the link to the study with our wrap up results:

    We're trying to spread the word so other agencies take note of these amazing results. Also looking to publish an article with TU and/or the local paper and/or another publication.
    Kyle Smith and Kent Lufkin like this.
  6. I wish they would look at some of the rivers over here in NE Oregon. We have a number of small rivers with native redbands that could be just like the smaller Montana rivers....great fishing for nice sized fish if they would just let them have a chance to grow up. The norm here is a five fish limit with bait allowed because that's the way it's always been. When I wrote a letter to the biologist asking if they would consider changing some regulations they told me that they had no studies, so they don't know if the fish would get to a good size (isn't that their job) and that I would have to basically write a petition and get a bunch of local people to support it to change regulations. In other words...they don't know if the fishing would improve with different regulations and don't care about preservation of native trout populations.
  7. I agree it is long past time that Oregon and Washington end harvest on fluvial trout populations. Too many people, too little good habitat. The days of little Freddy feeding the family dinner from the local creek should be over.
    Kyle Smith likes this.
  8. I tried bringing this article up on a Northeast forum, and all I received was snarls. I am convinced that wild brook trout would do very well in the small rivers of the Mid-Atlantic, if it weren't for put-and-take regulations. If only the majority of fishermen (license buyers) weren't addicted to 16-22" zombie hatchery rainbows. Jersey trout don't taste that great, even in the pretty part of the state.
  9. Jason, I'm aware of Ziller's study in regards to McKenzie. It simply proves that Oregon could go the same way as Montana if the ODF&
    W really wanted to replace hatcheries with wild fisheries.

    That isn't going to happen.

    Freestone is correct. When Montana curbed planting in favor of wild trout, the population was very small and anglers were more prone to go with the flow for larger trout.

    I don't believe that can happen in Washington or Oregon. The very thought of closing down hatcheries, requiring ranchers to fence cattle away from rivers and convincing the harvest folks they'll need to wait a few years before they can start killing trout again is far fetched.

    Believe me, when I first started flyfishing and read the Montana, Madison study and the results, I was all for Oregon going the same direction. So yup, the McKenzie study is great and I hope it will have an influence in regards to planting rivers in Oregon but I'm afraid it won't. I don't think it will ever go beyond a limited stretch of the McKenzie.

    Hopefully, I'm wrong.
    Krusty likes this.
  10. Forgot to add that I fished the section right below the study section on Sunday and Monday (nice cloudy weather after weeks of sun) and had two fantastic days with many 14-16" native redsides to hand. Lost a couple larger ones too!

    Gene, you're correct in that the hatcheries won't go away. But we may be able to convince the powers that be that some streams can be managed differently with good results. Not every river/creek has to be a kill zone.

    To our knowledge, this is also the most (only?) complete data set of its kind. Few rivers have eliminated hatchery fish in the past few decades and no multi-year studies have been done.
  11. I can remember when the fish limit in Washington was 16 fish. People would follow the Hatchery trucks around when they planted fish in the streams. They would sit there with bait and catch their limit.

    I like it here in Montana when you catch fish out of small skinny water the fish are fat and feisty.
    Steve Call likes this.
  12. Jason, you're probably correct in regards to the McKenzie study but for me, it was a validation of the original Madison study.

    I do believe there is some studies done in regards to hatchery steelhead having a negative effect on wild steelhead and most likely, that was the inspiration for the Mckenzie trout study.

    This subject has been around for so many decades, I'm actually surprised it took this long for a biologist to put it together.... actually, they must have.

    The Montana study convinced me. That's all I needed. And now that I think about it, The ODF&W stopped planting the Metolius years and years and years ago. I thought it was common knowledge that hatchery fish had a negative effect on wild trout. I guess they thought they needed more proof so they conducted another study on a different river.

    Anyway, I'll hope for the best but have learned that when it comes to the decisions of the ODF&W, I plan for the worse.
  13. Gene -
    I thought OR had stopped planting some rivers in favor of wild trout management?

    After reading a report about OR ceasing to stock a certain river with a funny name on the east side of the Cascades in southern Oregon (to the dismay of locals), and reports of increasing size to the fish in that river, I made a stop there en route from CA to WA in June of 2003. We camped for 2 days and had a delightful time fishing dry flies to healthy wild redbands, with many fish in the 12-15" range. The state also had imposed no bait and restricted limits on catch and size.

    Upon breaking camp, we drove through a small town on the lower end of the river and stopped in the general store to pick up some ice and other supplies. There were still signs in storefronts protesting "taking away their fish." When we were asked by the woman at the cash register what we were up to, we said we had been fishing on the river. Her response took me aback: "I didn't know there were any fish in there any more." It amazes me that some folks think fish can only reproduce in hatcheries!

    This was after only a few years of the new regulations. I've been wanting to get back ever since to see how it has responded after another 10 years. I'll be there are some very nice fish in there now.

  14. Dick, I thought the ODF&W stopped stocking rivers too... actually, they did a number of years ago but slowly started dumping the planters back in rivers again. There was a sudden shift to "increased angling opportunities" when fishing license sales started to drop so, evidently, they thought if they went back to dumping in hatchery fish in rivers for the harvest folks, they'd sell more licenses.

    The Metolius is flyfishing only and not many consumptive anglers fish the river so they don't plant that one.

    This is why I find the McKenzie study somewhat of a mystery. The ODF&W already stopped planting many rivers in the past and then went back to planting them. So why the study?
  15. Just an old codgers' opinion, but I have long believed that stocking programs should be left to certain waters that can not or do not produce viable numbers of wild fish. There should be stockings in local park lakes, and small local waters for family fishing. And not only trout planting but spiny rays and other species that will allow a greater number of people to have access to catching a fish or two.
    sopflyfisher likes this.
  16. I looked on the wdfw web site and only saw a handful of moving water where trout are stocked.

  17. I suspect that if one were to study the Wallowa river one would find the same kind of depression of the native fish stocks because of the massive steelhead stocking program there. those fish residualize at a very high rate because, i presume, that there is plenty of food. hatchery smolts of 12-14 inches are very common. I bet it would be a boost to the wild steelhead population and the wild trout population if the stocking was changed

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