Stocked trout are genetically different and conditioned to be different than wild trout. They feed aggressively and grow fast. And this is nothing like our wary wild trout.
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.
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...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.
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 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...
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.