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Native vs Hatchery catch ratio

624 Views 8 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  golfman65
I've only been fishing for steelies for 10 yrs this fall. That may seem like a long time to some, but for a lot of you - I'm just now begining to learn.

That being said, the first seven/eight years I caught mostly hatchery fish early in the season and natives later on. I fish the same waters, most of the time the same ratio swing vs bounch buggers, but was always catching the hatchery fish first.

The past few years it's been just the opposite. I'm now catching the natives first (early in the season) and the hatchery brats later.

I was on the Metow this last weekend, got into a couple of natives, and the guy just upstream from me tagged one too. In fact, most of the fish caught were natives that day.

Has anyone else experienced this? :hmmm:
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I think two factors are influencing the results you observe. First, there has been an increase in the number of wild steelhead returning above Bonneville the past few years. Second, wild steelhead are "troutier" than their hatchery counterparts. That is, wild steelhead are more likely to hit a fly than are hatchery steelhead. There is some documentation of this from the Deschutes River, where the ratio of hatchery fish to wild fish is high, yet wild fish are caught in numbers disproportionately high relative to their abundance in the total steelhead population.

Oh, maybe more than two factors. Wild fish typically return over a wider time period than do hatchery fish, so they also might be more abundant both early and late in the run, relative to their hatchery counterparts.

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