wild or unclipped hatchery?

Discussion in 'Spey Clave' started by Leroy Laviolet, Nov 30, 2010.

  1. How do you guys surmise what is what other than condition of all fins, how much fight in the fish and basic temperament , etc? How do you determine the difference?
  2. If it has a A-fin, you have to assume it is wild.
    That said, I look for "ground down" fins from the concrete tanks.
  3. I'm talking thoughts beyond the "Assumption" since it's a 50/50 crap shoot on what it is- Since we know they put hatchery un-clipped smolts in the river, Just wondeing what others think as to how they may have a hunch one way or the other what the fish is- I feal like a guy can tell a wild fish pretty easy at times, but sometimes not so, and it's still a guess no matter how you slice it, maybe someone has some more input on it-
  4. Like Kirk said, worn down fins from being raised in concrete pens. No other way to tell stream-side without taking tissue samples or scale samples I would suspect.

    Depending on the system you might be able to tell with some degree of accuracy based off of the number of years spent in freshwater prior to smolting (scale samples). A hatchery steelhead will only spend one year whereas I believe most wild fish spend 2-3 years in freshwater before smolting.
  5. I feel that if you've seen enough of the truly wild fish from the system, determining an unclipped hatchery fish is easy. Take the Sky for example, Ive seen plenty of natives from that river, and the reiter fish as a whole look very different. Deformed and ground down tail and dorsal fins are the easiest clues to their true identity
    That being said, you HAVE to treat all unclipped fish as if they are native
  6. There are a couple rivers i fish that the coloring on wild vs. Native is typically drastically different. It seems their body shape is different as well, wild fish typically being thicker in the back and the wrist of the tail. Again these are not set in stone rules by they can serve as good indicators.
  7. I caught a small a run in sept. this year. It seamed to me he was unusally dark for that early , and was a total dud to be a wild fish, though he was unclipped- Maybe you are on to something Nate-
  8. While this doesn't necessarily help, one thing I learned this year is, everything you think you know about fish can change in a blink of an eye. I will no longer make assumptions about ANY fish because I have seen behavior I would call BS on to the grave if I hadn't seen it myself.
  9. Native fish from different systems, look and act different,and if you know them you can tell with some degree of certainty. I gotta agree with Luke on his statements on assumtions. I caught a hatchery on the Deschutes this fall that was one of the hottest steelhead I've had the pleasure of dancing with!
  10. and I have had nates that never "woke up" when hooked. To be honest, I get so exited when I hook up that I really cant tell the difference.
  11. I tell if a steelhead is hatchery or wild by first checking for an adipose fin. After that, ventral fins, because sometimes one of those is clipped on hatchery fish. After that, I check the dorsal fin because the preponderance of hatchery fish exhibit stubbed dorsals. Lastly I'll look at the pectoral fins, as they occasionally are deformed. The deformed fins are not the result of rubbing against concrete rearing ponds. It occurs from fish nipping at each other in a crowded hatchery rearing environment.

    Those who believe they can identify hatchery fish from wild fish by the way they "fight" are uninformed, misinformed, ignorant, or possibly delusional. Either can be very hot or very dour or somewhere in between, just depending. Basic body morphology can be a so-so indicator, even in systems where the typical wild fish appears a certain way, and the typical hatchery fish appears a different way. Not every fish is typical, especially in wild populations, where diversity is more common than among the "cookie-cutter" hatchery fish. The upshot is that unmarked fish cannot be correctly assigned as hatchery or wild with 100% certainty, although 70 to 90% accuracy is certainly possible, again depending on the variables.

  12. View attachment 36656

    Here's a double-striper who kicked my ass on labor day--on the Cowlitz--
    all the fins were nice, his dorsal isn't exactly a sail, and summer runs aren't native to the Kow. Four screaming runs, numerous jumps, fought all the way, every inch.
    Here's the moment where I say who cares? He deserved the gentle release.
  13. Spaz,

    Looks like a wild winter run that had yet to make his way back down to saltwater. Must have been finding something to munch on for energy. A summer run shouldn't be that dark or developed by Labor Day.

  14. I was thinking the same thing. Not to take away from your fish! That is a cool life-history you just intercepted for a few minutes. Very Cool.
  15. this is embarassing--Sept 6th, that was Labor Day right? not Memorial Day?
    Seems like Sept is a bit late for a kelt, but hey, what do I know. I'm a chucker. Seemed like it may have been a very early summer stray, slowly ripening since May or so..awaiting the cast of the Spaz. I dunno, will take your word for it _G man. Yeah, was definitely an honor for me, really good stuff for me and Sturza.
    Life and steelhead are very mysterious to me.

    Ah well, live and learn. Gentle release.
  16. Very late for a kelt, but not unheard of. The photo shows sexual development that is way too advanced for a summer run in Sept. Plus, if the kelt didn't get down past the dams in early summer, temps may have got him stuck up there waiting for suitable passage conditions. They don't operate the fishway at Cowlitz Falls Dam thru the mid-summer, too warm and therefor typically no fish migrating.

  17. SpeySpaz -
    An interesting and odd fish.

    I have had the opportunity to see several late kelts from the "S" rivers of north Puget Sound including fish in September and even October. What is intertesting is that those late kelts (several months after spawning) had all brighten up. Even the males had lost most or all of the coloration we associate with spawning; a couple were even "chrome" bright. Doubt that your fish is a kelt rather a summer fish that has been in the river for a long period (spring fish?) and has reach sexual maturity and coloration even though spawning may be several months away.

    Even possible that the fish has had some injury or stress that accounts for the early maturation.

    tight lines
  18. I couldn't even begin to guess how common these are, or which systems they are in, but elastomer tags may be visible on some of those unclipped fish. They are essentially a little colored dot behind the eye, which I know are used on occasion on both steelhead and chinook.
  19. I think Salmo g has the most logical answer.

    Leroy, For the ditch your fishin in I think it's a crap shoot and the only thing to guide you is the adipose fin or lack of it.

Share This Page