Article Do stocked Trout Ever Become Wild?

FinLuver

Active Member
The stocked brown trout that now is miraculously wild. (paraphrased... ;))

Does that mean that stocked steelhead is now a wild one...or could be one?

Kinda kicks all those “kill the hatcheries” proponents to the curb.
 

jfilip85

Active Member
During the 1800's in Michigan, west coast steelhead were stocked in a small river and have since adapted quite well, reproducing naturally in staggering numbers. Those fish, now considered a "great lakes strain" are planted throughout the region but can only reproduce naturally in a few select rivers.

For most of its life the Great Lakes steelhead fishery has been considered put'n take but in recent years (especially as west coast steelhead stocks continue to thin) people have finally started to realize the value of these fish - especially the "wild" ones. There's now a push, much like on the west coast, to preserve the wild fish, with the expected stickers plastered over boats and trucks.

It's interesting to me to see people fighting for the preservation of a non native but wild bred fish.

Edit: not trying to compare true ocean run steelhead to the great lakes version. Simply referring to their value as a gamefish regardless of life history.
 
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Driftless Dan

Driftless Dan
WFF Supporter
Edit: not trying to compare true ocean run steelhead to the great lakes version. Simply referring to their value as a gamefish regardless of life history.
Yeah, I got into an argument with folks telling me that a Great Lakes steelhead is just a rainbow trout, if it doesn't go into the saltwater ocean. :rolleyes:
 

joellirot

Active Member
Yeah, I got into an argument with folks telling me that a Great Lakes steelhead is just a rainbow trout, if it doesn't go into the saltwater ocean. :rolleyes:
I tease my friends on the Great Lakes about this. But, I've caught a bunch of Great Lakes steelhead - and none out here in the PNW. So, we get lotsa laughs out of that one...
 

SquatchinSince86

Totally Unprofessional
The stocked brown trout that now is miraculously wild. (paraphrased... ;))

Does that mean that stocked steelhead is now a wild one...or could be one?

Kinda kicks all those “kill the hatcheries” proponents to the curb.
I think you missed the point about being stocked in the 1800s and after "many generations" becoming wild fish not miraculously wild over night. Granted these are still not native.

So a stocked steelhead isn't a wild steelhead, if that fish had spawned and the next generation spawned, then the next generation spawn and so on and so on for 150 years, all while adapting to their environment little by little, then yes that batch of steel could be considered "wild" fish.

I dont think it does anything to the hatchery proponent.
 

KillerDave

Have camera, will travel...
I think fish are kinda like cats and foxes.

Cats and foxes are able to go back and forth from either wild or domesticated within 1 (cats) or 2 (foxes) generations. Fish are the same; the ones that are capable of reproducing in the wild will produce offspring that are wild.

The most famous and sought after trout fisheries in the world were created this way, namely New Zealand and Patagonia. Trout are not native to those regions.
 

Salmo_g

Well-Known Member
WFF Supporter
Like so many things in the world of biology, the question isn't entirely black and white. Start be defining what is meant by a "stocked trout" and "wild." I saw that the author finally gives his definition of wild in the comments section following his article or essay - born in the river. So by his definition no stocked fish that began life in a hatchery can ever become wild no matter what selective pressures it experiences and survives once released into the natural environment.

He claims that fish stocked long ago, like the late 1800s, that have since naturalized and sustain natural populations came from wild fish. Well all hatchery fish at one time came from wild fish, but many of the stocked fish that generated subsequent wild populations were themselves originally produced in fish hatcheries and did not emerge from gravel, and therefore by his definition were not wild.

The upshot is that many populations of wild brown and rainbow trout today, in the east, mid-west, and Rocky mountain states originated from stocked hatchery trout. So the question about whether a stocked trout ever becomes wild appears purposely narrow and does not lead to a very comprehensive discussion about the nature and roles of hatchery and wild trout in today's world.
 

dflett68

Active Member
WFF Supporter
I tease my friends on the Great Lakes about this. But, I've caught a bunch of Great Lakes steelhead - and none out here in the PNW. So, we get lotsa laughs out of that one...
freshwater - saltwater - freshwater = anadramous

freshwater - freshwater - freshwater = potanadramous

i assume if this distinction defined "steelhead" in any authoritative way, the real fish scientists here could and would say so. people with a more ford/chevy opinion aren't of much use to the purpose.
 

Prickly Claire

Active Member
Like so many things in the world of biology, the question isn't entirely black and white. Start be defining what is meant by a "stocked trout" and "wild." I saw that the author finally gives his definition of wild in the comments section following his article or essay - born in the river. So by his definition no stocked fish that began life in a hatchery can ever become wild no matter what selective pressures it experiences and survives once released into the natural environment.

He claims that fish stocked long ago, like the late 1800s, that have since naturalized and sustain natural populations came from wild fish. Well all hatchery fish at one time came from wild fish, but many of the stocked fish that generated subsequent wild populations were themselves originally produced in fish hatcheries and did not emerge from gravel, and therefore by his definition were not wild.

The upshot is that many populations of wild brown and rainbow trout today, in the east, mid-west, and Rocky mountain states originated from stocked hatchery trout. So the question about whether a stocked trout ever becomes wild appears purposely narrow and does not lead to a very comprehensive discussion about the nature and roles of hatchery and wild trout in today's world.
I think it is important to note in this context that populations descended from fish planted in the 19th and early 20th centuries were largely transplantings of fish whose genetics were "wild" (ie, they hadn't been selectively bred in captivity for the purpose of surviving under hatchery conditions). Moreover, many of the earlier stockings were of eggs implanted in suitable gravel, as, under the technical conditions prevailing, it was much easier to keep eggs viable than to transport live fish. As a result, these populations are not only derived from fish not bred for captivity, but from fish that never even spent one second in a hatchery tank or pond. Brook trout restoration projects here in Southern Appalachia in recent years have largely proceeded along the same lines, with a combination of fertilized eggs implanted in gravel and wild adult fish moved from nearby drainages. This produces fish that are wild in pretty much every way.
 

theleo91386

Active Member
"Wild" and "native" doesn't always mean the same thing. There's multiple species of wild animals in North America that aren't native but have flourished. All the article is saying is you can take a domesticated animal (hatchery raised trout in this case), release them into a new "wild" habitat, and they'll either eventually adapt (become "wild") to where the population maintains or increases in numbers, or they'll fail and all eventually die off. Same concept as there's wild salmon runs in South America now, but they're definitely not native.
 

kmudgn

Active Member
The State of Maine makes the following classification:
Trout in an untouched Maine pond are native; trout descending from fish that were stocked in Maine 50 years ago are wild.
"Untouched" means never stocked
 

Shad

Active Member
"Wild" just means it lives in the wild (not in captivity or a man-made facility), although we often confuse it with the term with "Native," meaning born in the same wilderness where it was caught. This is why seafood distributors can legally label any steelhead caught in the wild, regardless of origin, as such. An unfortunate consequence of this practice is that the gillnet fisheries that harvest "wild" steelhead also harvest and market native steelhead under the same label. As this thread makes clear, this practice also leads to a lot of confusion and misinformation among people who don't understand the difference (largely because the terms get intermingled so much). I suppose the fact that our mantra is "release WILD steelhead" might have a lot to do with how we got here. We should be referring to them as NATIVE steelhead in regulations, to avoid the easily blurred lines.

As for the question the article addresses, I would argue that any fish born in a natural environment is native to that environment, regardless of whether their species was ever native to the wilderness. I still call hatchery trout I catch in the wild hatchery fish, despite the fact they are wild by definition. It's the origin we should refer to in these discussions; not the current place of residence (in my opinion).
 

FinLuver

Active Member
I think you missed the point about being stocked in the 1800s and after "many generations" becoming wild fish not miraculously wild over night. Granted these are still not native.

So a stocked steelhead isn't a wild steelhead, if that fish had spawned and the next generation spawned, then the next generation spawn and so on and so on for 150 years, all while adapting to their environment little by little, then yes that batch of steel could be considered "wild" fish.

I dont think it does anything to the hatchery proponent.
I see you copied the winky, but somehow missed it’s meaning. :)
 

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