Coach- I have reposted the part of your question which seems to offer the most confusion to many responding here. I will attempt as Salmo and other have to respond. "If most native/hatchery crosses don't survive, why is the state so vigilent about the retention of hatchery fish so as to not let them "interbreed" with natives." well, the fact that they are not surviving means that every native fish that participates in such a spawning event has effectively "wasted" its reproductive capacity. The few that do survive are genetically inferior and thus reduce the fitness (ability to survive and reproduce) of future generations through their offspring. "Also, if a hatchery buck and hen go past the hatchery and follow their distant realitives up the river, spawn (which we were told for years they couldn't do) and produce young which swim out with the rest of the little ones, those "children" are now wild fish, correct?" yes they are wild fish...but what genetic analyses have shown is that in the vast majority of cases (including the skagit system since you mention it) is that these wild fish don't create growing populations of "wild" hatchery-origin fish. Instead, they slowly are weeded out of the population because they are not fit. This comes at the great expense of the native fish though, because every time they reproduce with a genetically native fish, the reproductive effort of the native fish is wasted because the offspring dont survive. obviously there are instances where a "wild" hatchery-origin fish does survive, or a cross between a native and a "wild" hatchery-origin fish. Because they are less fit than native fish however, their genetic material is eliminated from the population through intense selection. The expense of all this selection though, is once again, wasted reproductive effort by the native population in ridding itself of the bad genes. The result of the situation as I have described it is not that the fish with adipose fins that we see today are some distant decendants of fish from a concrete pen. Rather, they are the offspring of fortunate members of the original native population, that over the generations have avoided reproducing with hatchery fish....their brethren over the generations that have reproduced with hatchery fish dont exist anymore because their offsping haven't survived. In the case of the skagit fish (because you mentioned them), I can confidently say that eliminating hatchery plants could at worst have no effect on native populations, and at best, result in dramatic recovery and an increase in their population. They are by no means "reliant" upon hatcheries. edit: coach in attempting to respond to your original post, i almost missed this: "I waver between the hope my sons and daughter will someday hunt great numbers of the greatest gamefish in the world on our magical rivers and release them as gently as we do, or that the nails were hammered in the coffin 100 years ago, and we are just kidding ourselves. I hope it is the former. Either way my gut-feeling clock is ticking and it makes my feel a sense of urgency, of the sand in the hour glass pouring faster than we want it to and to fish as hard as I can. And to help in any way I can, for my children. I can't imagine leaving them in a world where they can't feel the electricity of that pull and see red-striped perfection tearing the water up." I think you just about summed up the position Curt and I and many others are in. While we may at times disagree about how to get there, it is the hope alone that keeps us going. -Thomas p.s. it has been suggested to me by another forum member, that you may have been a football coach at the highschool i attended...did you ever coach in the seattle area?