Middle River Dispatches is a gumbo of posts about fly-fishing, conservation, politics and days afield.

Thinking About – Fish Hatcheries

Been thinking about hatcheries lately.

The next year’s budget for federal fish hatcheries got hit with the budget axe and there are some folks who are pretty sore about it. The “whys” and “wherefores” are complicated. You are gonna have to take my word on that part. That is not something frankly I feel much like writing about.

Uncomfortable questions got me thinking

Read more after the jump >
Because of what I do for a living I wind up getting asked uncomfortable questions sometimes… like, “so if you get so worked up when some elected nit-wit doesn’t understand that fish and wildlife habitat equals recreational opportunity and that means economic activity and jobs, how come you don’t get worked up when federal fish hatchery budgets get cut? Those fish are the only recreational fishing game around for some of us.”

Ok so stocked trout are not my thing. My preference lies with fishing – tenkara style – for native fish in mountain streams

I don’t like it when hatchery fish replace native fish because poor land management has destroyed aquatic habitat. When hatcheries are used to “band aid” a fish and wildlife habitat problem then they are part of the problem not the solution.

Dam hatcheries mean tailwater trout

But some hatcheries are there because big dams were put in place. Those dams screwed up the fishing. The deal was those dam owners (I speak of the federal owners) would replace some of the fish. Those fish have to come from hatcheries, no reasonable way around it.

What is important is that for some folks the only recreational fishing they are going to see are in the tailwaters of those dams and from hatchery trout.

As a board member of the fly-fishing industry trade association, AFFTA, I think recreational fishing is pretty damned important. If the only way to have people enjoy recreational fishing is because of those hatcheries then I am for them.

I don’t pretend to have and answer. It is complicated like I said. But something needs to be done. The fellas that asked those hard questions deserve an answer.

It has got me thinking about hatcheries and that may mean trouble…


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