Steelhead: Will hatchery hook up with a Native? I'd lik...

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Richard Torres, Jul 14, 2003.

  1. Ladies and Gentlemen.
    I'm writing an essay this week on this topic. After years of reading about the subject and having conversations with my fishing friends, i've come to a conclusion to the matter. With the information I have dug up on the internet ("Managing Wild and Hatchery Fish in Oregon" , "Hatchery Versus Wild Populations of Steelhead Trout in the Carp River, MI" and "Do hatchery Salmon help or harm the wild ones?" and talking to people recently, I have decided to write why I think that clubbing hatchery steelhead is not the solution to saving thier wild brothers and sisters. Now I want your opinion to this matter.... Anything counts and you won't be able to sway my thoughts on this. I just want to know how my flyfishing family feels about this subject, :professor WILL HATCHERY STEELHEAD MATE WITH A NATIVE?:professor
    Tight Lines!
  2. Fish will mate with just about anything they can. That's how we end up with things like cut-bows, rainbow/golden hybrids, some splake, some tiger trout (I say some because most of the latter two species are raised in hatcheries, but occasionally occur in nature as well). If they can cross species lines, they can certainly cross the hatchery/native line too. Another tough call is how do you tell the difference between a wild fish borne of hatchery parents vs. a wild native fish? If you're clubbing a hatchery fish because it doesn't have an adipose fin and then admiring your next "wild" fish and releasing it, who's to say that hatchery fish wasn't a parent or cousin of the wild fish? Just food for thought...
  3. Thanks for replying. Thats the general consensus with most folks that i've talked to. I did find out from a guide that told me that he's seen natives reject the hatchery types from spawing with them but I was a little skeptical.
  4. It gets more complex that that too. It goes beyond whether the wild hen will 'accept' the hatchery buck (or vice versa) though that's a big issue in itself. There's a lot of work currently being done looking at the extent of residualism in (mostly) male steelhead/rainbow smolts planted in streams. These fish are presumed to go out to sea. However, many of them stay in the stream and become 'rainbows'. When spawning time comes, snorkel surveys have shown that active redds may have up to 4 or 5 of these little precocious males hanging around waiting for the magical moment when the female drops the goods. The little guys make a run for it and shoot their stuff into the mix. DNA-based pedigree work has shown that they're quite successful at fertilizing eggs too. Not to mention the fact that these resident fish devour large numbers of salmon/trout fry! I'm currently helping out on a couple of projects that look at these sorts of things to try and minimize the impacts of hatchery supplementation programs on wild stocks....tough stuff but very cool and relevant to the overall ecology of our wonderful fish.
  5. Wouldn't you???

    If you were some clipped fin freak and a nate swam buy wiggling her fin...???


    Good things come to those who wade...
  6. Wouldn't you???

    you took the words right out of my mouth... some of those hens are pretty hot, but i can't understand a word they're saying. ummm errr....
  7. Wouldn't you???

    That is like asking, will a city folk hook up with a hillbilly? Oh yeah! You can take the Native from the river and you CAN take the river from the Native.

    Most Columbia River stocks are non-native now. When the Bonneville was built, they had to truck all of the fish at the dam waiting to spawn somewhere. Since no one knew which fish came from where, they just put them wherever thay thought they needed to go. It screwed up the whole Columbia river system. They then found out that native stocks wouldn't be able to return back to the ocean because of the turbines. Even if the Steelhead were to make it through the turbines, the river would kill them due to oxygen supersaturation.

    After the stocks diminished, the hatchery program was adompted in the mid 50's to replenish the Steelhead and Salmon stocks. Naturally, some hatchery fish reverted back to spawning in the reaches above the hatcheries. This is where we are now. There probably aren't any true native stocks left but there are still wild steelhead spawning above the hatcheries.

    A friend is doing research right now on mapping the genode of steelhead. When the genode is mapped and each gene is identified, as far as I understand they will know what the true genetic differences are between steelhead and rainbow trout. They will also be able to identify each specific strain and their family tree. (Where the native fish came from grenerations before)

    Please correct me if I am wrong with any information given here.

  8. i have not read any reports that suggest the Hatchery fish won't spawn with Native fish. I have documents at home and will try to look them up this evening. So the answer is a definate yes they will spawn with each other.

  9. The only thing I can think of from stopping male hatchery steelies from spawning with the female native is the bad-a$$ 25lb native buck who kicks their anal vents for even looking at 'his' hen. Unfortunately if said buck is poached or netted and taken out of the equation - the female would probably give in eventually.
  10. So many good native hens give in... It shows the gradual degredation of society.. I mean rivers.

    Seamen plus seapeople equals seacity. :p
  11. Please be sure to post the report when you are done. I am sure a few of us would be interested in reading it. Thanks.
  12. Hatchery steelhead that mate in the wild have a reproductive success rate of 1/2 to 2/3 that of native fish. Hatchery steelhead that mate in the wild with native fish have a reproductive success rate generally intermediate between H/H crosses and W/W crosses. Where it's been measured, hatchery steelhead on natural spawning grounds comprise as much as 30% to 50% of a total run.

    That means two things. First, hatchery steelhead are mating with wild steelhead, no doubt whatsoever. Second, when they do, the wild fish will produce fewer and less fit young than if it had mated with another wild fish.

    I know you said you would not change your thesis, no matter what you learned (always a good way to start an essay), but you might want to reconsider that. I think you need to do some more reading. Check out Mark Chilcote (ODFW), Mart Gross (University of Toronto), or Reg Rreisenbechler (USGS), among others. Also look at the report recently published by the NW Power Planning Council's Independent Scientific Advisory Panel, REVIEW OF SALMON AND STEELHEAD SUPPLEMNTATION. (see

    Methinks you may be worried that clubbing surplus hatchery fish will be bad for your fishing, and your looking for a "scientific" justification why opposing it would be "good" for the wild fish. Sorry, you won't be able to find it.
  13. Ray - any numbers estimates on the success rate for 2nd, 3rd, 4th generation Hatchery fish who spawn in the wild? (Techincally they are now 'wild' fish) I guess it would make sense that over time, they get better at it as the weak genes of their hatchery 'grand parents' are filtered out...
  14. Well, not up on the science aspect of this. But have seen many fish spawn on the Nooch (nice thing about having property on it). Have watched a few pairs in lower water, but good gravel making redds. Have seen big hatchery bucks (no adi's and dorsal a bit deformed) spawning with native hens (all fins, and dorsal fully formed). Can't tell you if they reproduced, but knew they were "making babies". ;) It's a cool thing to watch though. I loved to sit for hours near the redd areas and just watch them work. Pretty cool process. Wouldn't even fish, just watch (would only fish below that where they are less likely to spawn).

    Now, onto breeding rates, etc. Have no idea. Have seen conflicting reports. Having done studies while I was in college (alot of mine were astro physics theries and some applied physics theries) and know that it's funny how many variables you can have. My professor even said, which I agree, when it comes to studies the results gained are usually what best suites the scientists applying the study. I've found that to be true on alot of studies shown, but not all. If one group has a study, it usually benefits them, but a group opposing them will have a contradicting study to debunk theirs. You'd think that if the studies were the same, they'd get same results?? But too many variables to get an accurate overall result for all situations. So, I take "scientific studies" for just that, studies. Not realities. If we got ALL these scientists together who do these different resulting studies of same circumstance and make them do one BIG study. Now that I would check out. Would be funny to see them fight over the variables and effects for the studies. :7
  15. Steelhead: Will hatchery hook up with a Native? I'd...

    Damn the powers that be for the solutions they impose upon us... damn ourselves for not doing anything about it.
    Overcompensating for deforestation, dams, pollution and overharvesting with hatchery fish in rivers is alot like fixing a rotting, leaky roof with smartly placed brick after brick (or, like when Burt complained he couldn't sleep over the sound of dripping water, and Ernie turns on the vacuum cleaner so Burt won't hear the drip anymore). Band-aid solutions are only temporary. They don't treat the cause, they just cover up the result so it looks and feels a little better.
    Let's say you've got a kid eating 10 exquisite meals a day (deforestation), your neighbor slashes your tires every morning (dams - prevents you from getting where you need to go to make a living), your other kid is smoking crack(pollution) and the wife is at the mall every day (overharvesting). Is another new line of credit, with interest of course, really the answer? More and more, resulting in relatively less and less, with a foundation that is whithering away all the while is a recipe for disaster.
    There is tons of info out there on the inferiority of hatchery fish and their threat to wild populations (we're just as much or more of a threat - but what is a hatchery fish? It's a product of US.) To answer the question (finally), do a wild/native fish a favor - eat a hatchery fish. And consider having anybody who takes the world around us for their gain, and our loss, for dessert.
  16. Steelhead: Will hatchery hook up with a Native? I'd...

    Thanks Ray for the concrete info. Sounds like a perpetuated cycle of diminishing returns to me.
    I think I'll put water in my gas to save money (I guess some people need it more and more of it than I do)and take off my head gasket to save weight (I couldn't live without my camp-stove toaster) so I can make it to Colorado...
    Of course, I wouldn't make it down 156th to I-90 at that rate...
    The insanity.
  17. That's a fair and a smart question. The trouble is, it is almost impossible to track those 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generation hatchery progeny (technically possible but logistically and economically impracticable).

    One thing we do know from controlled experiments with other types of organisms is that the small types of genetic maladaptations that cause the reduced fitness can become regressive (remember that the hatchery fish are still reproducing at relatively high rates, just not as well as the wild fish), and then later expressed in ways that could be disasterous for the population as a whole, particularly if it is already stressed (sound like any steelhead populations you know?) Keep in mind that a HEALTHY, stable steelhead population is replacing itself at just over a 1 to 1 ratio. Recent work has suggested that the timetable for the maladaptations to work themselves out of a population is slightly longer than it will take the population to go extinct as a result of the maladaptations.

    Now that is just theoretical, but how much additional risk should we be prepared to subject our salmon and steelhead populations to, just so we can have better fishing? And that isn't even taking into consideration the immediate risk of those 1st generation hatchery fish, on populations that are currently in decline, many threatened with extinction.

    I'm afraid I have not much patience with the argument that since science isn't perfect, then I don't have to pay attention to scientific evidence that is inconvenient for me or my position, even when it is the preponderance of the evidence. That is the tobacco industry's argument.("Show me where a man gets his cornpone, and I'll tell you what his opinion is," Mark Twain.)

    Science probably can't and hasn't "proven" that going out in the sun will give you skin cancer, so why bother with the hat and the sunscreen?
  18. I don't intend to debate the merits of scientific studies over no studies at all. Science is my god. I don't believe in much else. But god does goof up a lot for being a god and all.
    Genetic mixing of steelhead stocks has been going on since the beginning of time. The Columbia, the mother of it all, used to have so many wild fish in it that they strayed everywhere, even to California. The idea that each fish returns to the exact spot it was born in is, to say the least, bunk.
    But this straying of hatchery fish, and indeed they do stray, is wrecking havoc on the species. Priceless strains of fish are being completely destroyed. Fish that know how to ascend a river system are being lost so that the river system is not being fully utilized. And so on. Makes my head hurt; my heart sick. I going to have a little wine or something.
    Bob, the Heart Sick:beathead :beathead
  19. Thanks for your valuable input Ray. This helps with my research. I'll be honest with my opinion, I just think that if the fisheries departments (Oregon or Washington) are wasting the salmon or steelhead, I think that they could be put to better use( Instead process the salmon for fertilizer ). Sure, I think that killing a hatchery steelhead that isn't going to die, like a salmon would, is a waste of our tax dollars. Yes I wouldn't hesitate to kill one to take home for my family, plus that's one less fish that will jepordize our fragile native stock.
    Tight lines!

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