Announcements Commentary

Clarity and Science about Wild vs Stocked Trout, from Halverson’s ‘An Entirely Synthetic Fish,’ and from The Troutlook

September 8, 2017

I’m no scientist. I’m not a fisheries biologist or an entomologist — I’m just a fisherman. But you probably sensed that already.

When anyone speaks about the negative effects of stocking hatchery trout over wild trout populations, the inevitable challenge for proof of the matter arises. That’s more than fair. Sure, I can give you first hand accounts about the sad truth, what I’ve seen in decades of hard fishing over both wild and stocked fish, but a curious angler wants more.

I do too, so I’ve followed the works of fisheries biologists, and I’ve sought out and read papers and books on the subject for a long time.

On Troutbitten, I often link to sources like An Entirely Synthetic Fish, by Anders Halverson to provide real research and data because, again, I’m not a scientist. But Shannon White of the Troutlook is.

White’s and Halverson’s work provide honest data on the subject of stocking hatchery trout over wild fish.

Gathering that data is not my job. My job is to educate us all a little about fly fishing, to inspire us to get out there and enjoy a fishing life that ultimately leads to a love so strong that we become conservationists and strong advocates for the future of wild trout, for public lands and clean, cold water.

Photo by Chris Kehres

For those that challenge the idea that stocked trout are no good for wild trout, for those that ask for science-based data, I invite you to follow through and read the information that’s out there.

Yes. Stocking harms wild populations. But don’t take my word for it. Read the science for yourself.

Sure, research and scientific papers aren’t as enjoyable of a read as the latest John Geirach story, but if you are skeptical about the science behind the argument, then you should follow through and read it.

In the latest three articles from the Troutlook, Shannon White lays out the pros, the cons, and some conclusions about her department’s research on the genetic effects of stocking over wild trout populations. It’s very readable and extremely interesting.

Thank you, Shannon.

Halverson’s book, An Entirely Synthetic Fish, covers the trout hatchery system from the past to the present, over 130 years. Anders’ work is an entertaining read, full of documented sources, discussing the behavioral and genetic effects of stocking fish over wild trout populations. The bibliography is extensive on the topic at hand.

It’s often repeated that we now live in a post-fact or a post-truth world. No we don’t. Facts are real. And science is real. The entirety of our modern way of living is the result of science: cars, planes, heating and cooling units, the television, my refrigerator and your smart phone. We move forward, we progress as a society, by using scientific research as a means for innovation and for planning the path ahead.

The scientific data on the effects of stocking hatchery trout over wild trout populations should not be ignored.

Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky


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Domenick Swentosky

Hi. I'm a father of two young boys, a husband, writer, musician and fisherman. I fly fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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