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Why is PA still stocking trout?

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2012/10/2 20:15
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I've been meaning to post this for some time, but can someone give me an explanation as to why PA is still stocking our pristine streams in central pa with hatchery fish? We have many streams with all the right conditions for healthy populations of wild trout without the stocking, so what's the point? It would seem that Montana would have proven once and for all in the 70's that stopping stocking in waters with wild fish greatly improves the longterm sustainability of the fishery. Can someone give some info/history on this? I've dug up some info myself, but curious others thoughts.

Posted on: 10/26 21:40


Re: Why is PA still stocking trout?

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Bc a large portion of license buyers, who ironically probably have less actual angling hours per year, believe stocking is required in order to have fishing opportunities (which they often equate with "limiting out").

There are a number of reasons behind this, and the subject has been talked about ad nauseam. Some searching in here and the rest of the internet will reveal a lot on info about it.

Posted on: 10/27 1:50


Re: Why is PA still stocking trout?
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Quote:

mporter012 wrote:
I've been meaning to post this for some time, but can someone give me an explanation as to why PA is still stocking our pristine streams in central pa with hatchery fish?




Agree with SteveG ^

It is worth keeping in mind, however, that in the case of central PA much stocking has been reduced. Fifty years ago all the big name streams in center state were stocked. Today these streams are managed (mostly) for wild trout.

Posted on: 10/27 8:05


Re: Why is PA still stocking trout?

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If you look at the PAFBC's Facebook feed, you can see where they stand. Very very very little posted about wild trout (either programs to support, or opportunities to fish for them)

It's utterly dumbfounding given the amount of waters in PA which support wild trout.

They are sitting on this massive natural resource in this state and have yet to capitalize on it. Other states have shown doing so creates a very successful business model. The put and take to increase license is a dead model proven by the decline in licenses.

If it wasn't for TU and other private groups, it would be worse in this state.


Posted on: 10/27 8:29


Re: Why is PA still stocking trout?

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2006/9/23 0:52
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Some of the smaller streams bother me that they stock them. I always felt bad for the few wild/native fish in those streams. You darn well know anyone who catches one of the wild/native fish that happens to be legal size is going to keep it. If you really enjoy fishing like that I say buy a bucket of fish and put them in your bath tub. The larger streams however I have no issue with stocking. This allows the harvesting crowd something to target hopefully keeping the stockies and not the natives/wilds. The stocked and wild fish on the larger streams always seemed to coexist just fine in my opinion.

Posted on: 10/27 8:43


Re: Why is PA still stocking trout?

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Cool - I'll search around the forums. I'm well versed on the montana program from the 70's, but haven't been able to find much online about Pennsylvania, other than what you just said – that's kind of what I keep reading. Setting aside the wild fish population issue, and the environmental issue, it's just really damn expensive to raise these fish. In Montana, they estimated that 95% of the river stocked trout were dead within THREE MONTHS, and mostly NOT by anglers, but by predators. The return on investment was awful - at something like $3 per caught fish, and that was 50 years ago. I'm guessing there is no such info on PA?

Posted on: 10/27 8:56


Re: Why is PA still stocking trout?

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Right on, man.

Posted on: 10/27 8:58


Re: Why is PA still stocking trout?

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Have a look at this study for some cost related info (2009). I'm not aware of any studies that quantify the survival of stocked trout in PA, so it is much harder to figure out what the cost of each caught trout ends up being.

Posted on: 10/27 10:23


Re: Why is PA still stocking trout?
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Here's a great article about PA stocked trout I copied and pasted from the Troutbitten site. I think it sums up PA trout and PA trout fishing very well.

Wild vs Stocked : The Hierarchy of Trout in Pennsylvania

If you think a trout is a trout and there’s no valuable distinction concerning where that trout came from, then may I suggest closing this article and moving on? Maybe go fishing.

Whatever type of fish you like to chase and however you like to fish for them, I’m not here passing judgement. If you enjoy the game that you play, then you’ve achieved the most important thing in any recreation. Sometimes, that’s all there is to it.

With those disclaimers out of the way … stocked fish are a poor representation of their wild counterparts. There are, in fact, tremendous differences in the behavior, the growth rate, the selectivity, and the appearance of stocked trout versus wild trout. Each of these variables are, well … variable. For example, it’s not uncommon to catch a stocked brown trout that appears wild. Private hatcheries are raising some damn fine looking browns these days, and even the state hatchery fish are much improved in appearance from just twenty years ago.


The state of things

The history of trout in Pennsylvania is a sad one. Somewhere along the line, the idea that humans and science could create a better product than what nature provides became stuck in the minds and sub-cultures of Pennsylvania residents from towns all across this beautiful state. Initially, hatchery trout were a government/corporate concession to the industrialized public that went something like this:

“Hey, we’re sorry we’ve destroyed your trout streams and the wild trout in them with atrocious timber management, the abominable lack of chemical regulations and the devastation of unfettered coal mining. But don’t worry about it, because we’ve created for you … the hatchery trout, and it’s better than the real thing.”

After that, things went downhill for a while.

These days, clean water has returned to some damaged watersheds that can once again sustain wild trout populations, but we’re still allowing antiquated tradition and embedded culture to dictate sensible trout management.

But things are looking up. In some areas of the state, the fish commission is focusing resources on stream improvements and easements rather than hatcheries and fake fish. It’s a slow process, but I commend the commission for starting the move forward.

In truth, the responsibility is yours and mine. We need to help shift the remaining Pennsylvania put-and-take culture away from its affair with hatchery trout and toward valuing sustainable wild fisheries wherever possible.

To push forward and shift the tide toward putting wild trout populations first, it’s important that all modern catch-and-release trout fishermen are on the same page. I thought we were, but I’m continually surprised to find anglers who don’t seem to make the distinctions that I always assumed were obvious.

Why do we value wild fish over stocked fish? What are the benefits, and what exactly are these distinctions?


The Hierarchy

It’s part of human nature to categorize. We place a value on everything — this is better than that; I like this more than that. Simple judgments. Preferences. So don’t tell me a trout is a trout. It isn’t. And deep inside every guy who argues that he “just wants to go fishing and doesn’t care what’s wild or stocked” is also the innate understanding that a wild fish holds more value.


Wild Trout

The best trout is one that nature has created — stream-born and wild. Through natural selection, populations of wild trout have adapted to their environs. Born in the stream, a wild trout deals with impending predation from the beginning, and it tracks down food at the same time. This unassisted start creates a strong fish that reacts and moves in concert with the stream life around it. It lives where it’s supposed to live and eats what it’s supposed to eat. A wild trout is a natural part of its ecosystem.

Uncorrupted wild trout are at the top of this list, and if you don’t instinctively understand this ideal, I honestly don’t know how else to communicate it.

As a side-note, the native vs non-native species argument is a complicated one, and it’s not something I’ll try to tackle here. I will say that I’m thankful for the introduced brown trout to this state, for without them we would have vast stretches of troutless, prime water that is simply too warm in the summers for our Pennsylvania native brookie. The brown trout, first introduced to our state in 1886, have created wild trout fisheries where they could not have existed after the industrial revolution. It’s also a more selective quarry, arguably enhancing the fishing experience. Wild brown trout grow larger than our native brook trout and are gorgeous creatures.

Whether brook trout, brown trout, or one of the few self-sustaining populations of rainbow trout in our state, the wild trout is the preeminent fish on this list. Wild trout hold the highest value. There is no fair comparison.


Fingerlings

Pennsylvania stocks fingerlings in some rivers that might surprise you, and I’m continually impressed with the quality and appearance of adult trout that were stocked as fingerlings. If it’s not wild, then a stocked fingerling (usually 3-6”) is the next best thing. These fish get a head start in the hatchery but grow into adult trout by spending many seasons in a natural habitat, looking at natural food, and making good decisions that keep them alive. Fingerling trout take on the look and the disposition of wild fish — almost.

The downside of fingerling stocking? Mortality is very high. Thousands of trout are stocked for minimal return. But, the few that make it often grow into some very nice fish.


Holdovers

Stocked, adult trout that make it past the first season are holdovers. Commonly, anglers use the term holdover for a trout that was stocked the previous year, but I’ve also heard the term used for a trout that makes it from spring into fall.

Whatever the definition, the prevailing qualities are longevity and duration. Holdovers are stocked fish that have survived angling pressure, natural predation, rough weather and varying stream conditions, during which time they tend to take on more natural, wild appearances and habits.

Having made it past the sickle of natural selection, a holdover is the best of the best stocked trout — or it just got really lucky.


Stockies

I grew up fishing for stocked fish in western Pennsylvania. There were precious few wild trout in my area (largely as a result of acid mine drainage), and without the stockies, I would not have learned to trout fish.

That is the stockie’s value, and that alone should be the stockie’s purpose — to populate rivers that cannot support wild trout. Certainly, not every troutless river should receive hatchery trout, but if it’s the kind of river that once held trout before human beings screwed it up, then it’s probably a decent choice for stocking.

The madness that is opening day of trout season is centered, in large part, around stocked fish. I get it. I understand the tradition, and I can still feel my ten-year-old excitement the night before the big day; I can smell wet earth in the dimly lit basement as my father and I prepare our rods and reels for the next morning. The stocked fish we chased brought us together, and that gives them an extraordinary value.

But opening day also makes me sad. It’s often a scene of lawn chairs, muddy banks, buckets, stringers and line-ups of anglers who only fish once or twice a year. They are missing so much, it seems, and worse, they learn about trout fishing by catching stocked fish.

Hatchery fish are genetically selected to feed aggressively and grow quickly. They’ve lived their entire lives in an artificial environment, often in overcrowded concrete troughs, and they frequently have deformities such as stubby fins, rubbed snouts or mangled tails. They eat brown hatchery pellets similar to dry dog food, so the flesh and skin colors are nothing like a wild fish.

In a hatchery they never learn to use cover, to feed selectively or to play by the rules of a natural trout stream. Instead of shying away from overhead movement as a threat, they often learn to associate it with incoming food. The larger the hatchery trout is when stocked, the longer it has played by the artificial rules, and quite frankly, the dumber it will be when released into a real trout stream.

Simply put, large stockies are no trophies. Fun to catch? Sure. But rare, special, or full of any exceptional value? No.

Stocked fish should fill a specific role, providing angling opportunities only where wild trout cannot thrive. And trout should not be stocked over top of healthy wild trout populations.


The colors on this stocked bow are a little washed out and the tail is rubbed on the bottom and top. It’s clearly a stocked fish, but Aiden had a great time catching it.


Club Fish

At the tail end of this list are trout found in clubs. Most clubs stock fish, then feed them on a daily basis, creating, in essence, pets for their clients. Because people like catching big fish, clubs often stock fish much larger than what a stream can naturally support. A two foot fish in a twenty-foot wide, freestone stream, surrounded by five other two-foot fish, is probably hungry. And hungry equals gullible.

Club fish aren’t always easy, though — this is fishing, so there is no always. Club fish, like regular stockies, often play by a strange set of artificial rules. They may fall for ridiculous patterns during a caddis hatch instead of a Pheasant Tail. And when club pets are overfed, they become pellet pigs with full bellies, uninterested in eating much else and difficult to convince with a fly.

To me, there is nothing more artificial than the club set up, and that’s why these fish are at the bottom of the list.

— — — — — — — — — —

It’s time to recognize the exceptional value of wild trout and understand the limited value of the stocked trout. We shouldn’t get them confused. By pushing for regulations that protect wild trout and enhance their habitat we can prepare a better future. By choosing to showcase wild fish over hatchery fakes we will send a signal.

Value the wild trout. Protect it. Catch it, and release it.


Link to source: https://troutbitten.com/2016/04/19/wil ... of-trout-in-pennsylvania/

Posted on: 10/27 10:35


Re: Why is PA still stocking trout?

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2014/8/2 20:20
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Mporter, I read a similar study in PA regarding stocked adult fish mortality, and it was very poor. The ROI on stocked fish is atrocious.

The pro-stocking crowd always says that "this isn't Montana". Yet there are a number of streams that have had increases in the wild trout population once stocking was ceased or reduced. I also understand that some streams may not have seen an uptick in the wild trout population.

In my opinion, fish movement patterns are the wildcard. It's something we rarely see any scientific study on, yet have plenty of angling proof that it does exist (just like it does in Montana). Whether it's due to an overall increase in water quality in the state, or people are just finally taking it seriously is a mystery. But I'd love to see the day in which management is based off of science.

PFBC did "warn anglers" in one of their recent Facebook posts about watching out for redds this time of year. In the same paragraph in which they announced the Fall stocking smh

Posted on: 10/27 11:32


Re: Why is PA still stocking trout?

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2006/9/20 21:44
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I think that the PFBC might have good intentions. However, the legislature pays the bills. Our wonderful State House and Senate members certainly don't care about wild trout. Their constituents keep them in office, and the constituents want stocked trout. Look at the latest pi$$ing match with the legislature and Arway. Who do you think will win? It won't be Arway.

Posted on: 10/27 20:41


Re: Why is PA still stocking trout?

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2006/11/2 8:50
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Quote:

mporter012 wrote:
I've been meaning to post this for some time, but can someone give me an explanation as to why PA is still stocking our pristine streams in central pa with hatchery fish? We have many streams with all the right conditions for healthy populations of wild trout without the stocking, so what's the point? It would seem that Montana would have proven once and for all in the 70's that stopping stocking in waters with wild fish greatly improves the longterm sustainability of the fishery. Can someone give some info/history on this? I've dug up some info myself, but curious others thoughts.


Which specific streams are you thinking of?

As to why stocking is still taking place on good wild trout water, the reason is that many people want that, and communicate that to the PFBC, the Commissioners, and their state representatives. Particularly through their organization in the sportsmens clubs.

The wild trout advocates have communicated a lot to the PFBC. But not very much with the Commissioners and the state representatives.




Posted on: 10/28 10:03


Re: Why is PA still stocking trout?

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2006/11/10 8:32
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Smike,
Put and Take was never designed to increase license sales. It was and continues to be a fisheries management technique designed to provide an attractive, seasonal, high use, recreational fishery. Where it did and if it did increase license sales, it was a side benefit. I have never heard anyone in the PFBC state that this water will be stocked in order to increase license sales.

Posted on: 10/28 12:26


Re: Why is PA still stocking trout?

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2006/9/11 19:52
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Let’s get back to the original question, starting with the massive logging that decimated the woods and streams of PA from the mid- thru late 1800s and early part of the 20th century. Then unregulated coal mining and land development continued the decline. It was so bad that many conservationists were predicting that brook trout, like the passenger pigeon, would become extinct by the middle of the 20th century. But they didn’t become extinct. They survived and repopulated many mountain streams as the forest grew back and waters cleared and cooled.

But with all this devastation and very generous creel limits and the nearly complete lack of a conservation ethic, the brook trout population plunged. Naturalized brown trout - which had been introduced to our streams about 1886 - fared somewhat better but were still not able to keep up with the demands of anglers.

It was thought that Nature was inefficient and that Man could grow and produce trout much better and with vastly greater efficiency. So the state built hatcheries. At first fingerlings were stocked into the already degraded and overfished streams. But they took 3 or 4 years to grow to ‘legal’ size. So they were grown to catchable size and stocked into streams in order to meet a demand that Nature couldn’t. The practice was immensely popular and quickly developed a large constituency that insists on the continuation of this practice to this day.

Stocking over self sustaining trout populations has been well documented to be harmful to wild trout. But also distressing, is what it has done to many, perhaps most, trout anglers. They have lost all connection to the experience that trout fishing was and still can be - a chance to get out in the wild for a short time and capture what is still within us as former hunter/gatherers.

Posted on: 10/28 12:37


Re: Why is PA still stocking trout?

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It makes all the sense of throwing pheasants into great ruffed grouse cover, that is, when grouse were more prevalent. Just pointless except for the mistaken idea (until recently) there can be no upland bird hunting without stocked pheasants.
Now, where the habitat doesn't support wild birds, there basically IS NO bird hunting without stocked pheasants. So stock away. It's the only fun to be had, upland at least. But the people who, I'll put it politely, 'tug the ear' of the Fish Commission, demand for them to do effectively that: stock pheasants over grouse. Stock stockies over wild trout.

If you have a lot of mis-directed people, crossed-up priorities and wrong-headedness in a democracy, they will be able to influence policy by simply their numbers. And stocking is what enough people want, so it will be. Their demographics will direct money in that direction. It applies to all of society. If enough people are conscious and can lift a finger their demonstrably wrong ideas will be enforced.

It's just 'us'. Because we have enough people who just want to 'snap a lot of necks' (a quote from a meeting that Dave Rothrock had with the Fish Commision) their idea has to be enforced by planting many necks to be snapped. We ARE getting better. It's better than it WAS, but it will remain as long as long as that crowd has enough sway. AND it costs us more $$$ and fish that should be stocked in waters that DO NOT SUPPORT trout year-round.

Syl

Posted on: 10/31 13:30



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