PODCAST: The Troubles With Club Fishing — S11, Ep7

by | May 26, 2024 | 24 comments

 The Troutbitten Podcast is available everywhere that you listen to your podcasts.

** Note **  The Podcast Player, along with links to your favorite players is below.

We’re here for a tough conversation. This one’s about fishing the pay-to-play setup of a club.

These are the troubles with club fishing . . .

One club leads to the next. One private stretch invites another down the road. So clubs lead to the loss of public water for the average angler. And that’s not good.

The manufactured fishing scenario of most clubs can teach anglers the wrong things, with easier fishing that does not translate well outside of the clubs. That then leads to unrealistic expectations or even a generous self-assessment of one’s skills.

But why does that matter? Because anglers begin to favor easier fishing and (often) stocked trout scenarios. All of this feeds into the hatchery trout system, and that’s something this country should be moving away from wherever possible.

Stop stocking over wild trout. This really should be our universal message, anywhere that wild trout can thrive. But how many clubs deliver that message? Let’s be honest about it — very few.

Not all clubs stock fish, and not all clubs are a bad choice. But in short, we believe things can be better.

This is an important episode. Please pass it around.

Resources

READ: Troutbitten | Posted – Club Fishing – 2065
READ: Troutbitten | Wild vs Stocked — The Hierarchy of River Trout In Pennsylvania
PODCAST: Troutbitten | S1, Ep4 — Wild Trout or Stocked — The Hierarchy of River Trout

Here’s the podcast . . .

Listen with the player above, or . . .

Find the Troutbitten podcast on any of these services:

— Apple Podcasts
— Spotify
— Google Podcasts
— Amazon Music
. . . and everywhere else where you listen to podcasts.

You can find the dedicated Troutbitten Podcast page at . . .

podcast.troutbitten.com

Season Eleven of the Troutbitten Podcast continues next week with episode 8. So look for that in your Troutbitten podcast feed.

Fish hard, friends.

 

** Donate ** If you enjoy this podcast, please consider a donation. Your support is what keeps this Troutbitten project funded. Scroll below to find the Donate Button. And thank you.

 

Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky
T R O U T B I T T E N
domenick@troutbitten.com

 

Share This Article . . .

Since 2014 and 1000+ articles deep
Troutbitten is a free resource for all anglers.
Your support is greatly appreciated.

– Explore These Post Tags –

Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I 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.

More from this Category

PODCAST: Prospecting for Trout — S11, Ep10

PODCAST: Prospecting for Trout — S11, Ep10

Prospecting is a strategy for covering water. It’s about pace. The truth is, we’re searching for something on every cast, no matter what our approach is. But what we call prospecting is a bit different. It’s about canvassing an area, casting a wider net, searching for that next fish and then the next one. Then we take that data about where and how trout are feeding, and we use it to inform our next decision.

PODCAST: The Airing of Grievances Three — S11, Ep9

PODCAST: The Airing of Grievances Three — S11, Ep9

Complaining is not a bad thing if it accomplishes something productive — or if it’s kinda fun. Or if it draws attention to some of the absurdities around you.

Some things need to change. Because there are plenty of influences and influencers leading us all down a road to nowhere, or really, to a place that loses the depth of this fishing experience — of what we love about the woods and the water in the first place.

Whatever you believe, take a stand for it. That’s what we try to do here with the Airing of Grievances.

PODCAST: The Further You Walk, the More You Leave Behind (a Story) — S11 Intermission

PODCAST: The Further You Walk, the More You Leave Behind (a Story) — S11 Intermission

Here’s a story about the solitude that so many of us seek on the water — how the full experience of planning for a trip, driving before dawn, walking in and exploring a river valley provides a respite from our daily life. It’s a chance for a clear mind and for renewed energy. “The Further You Walk, the More You Leave Behind” is about what we recover when we commit to full days and long distances, and how even after we return, we are changed.

PODCAST: How Woodsmanship Catches Fish — S11, Ep6

PODCAST: How Woodsmanship Catches Fish — S11, Ep6

There’s an intangible quality built into the best anglers. It’s about being comfortable and natural around the water. It’s about having an instinct and a guiding intuition on a river that informs decision without even giving it much thought. It’s an innate knowledge of the environment and what will happen next. Knowledge of the woods, water, weather and the trout comes together with ease and adds up to something that is hard to identify.

What do you think?

Be part of the Troutbitten community of ideas.
Be helpful. And be nice.

24 Comments

  1. Great topic, and I agree with you 100%!!

    Reply
  2. Do you think just manicuring the banks alone is detrimental to the stream? It seems to me that any damage to the riparian zone could have unintended consequences down stream of the private water if the property was large enough.

    In high school we had a cool club called riparian zone. We would actually plant trees and scrubs along small streams on public land. We would also perform water quality testing.

    Reply
    • Absolutely. It doesn’t help, that’s for sure. Most anytime we move away from how nature intended things in a river, we do more harm than good.

      Reply
  3. This is an important podcast. It’s important because its message needs to be heard, and it’s also important because, by being balanced and nuanced, it nips uninformed criticism in the bud.

    Reply
  4. Excellent podcast! I loved how you guys didn’t dance around the issue. I’ll be sharing it with my local chapter of TU as we try to educate our fisheries’ managers about the evils of stocking over wild trout.

    Reply
  5. Agree. Basically, if nature or government created the resource, the ocean, river, stream, creek, lake or pond (did I forget something?), I don’t think private ownership or leasing or renting of the water, bottom or shore should be allowed. It should be managed by government as public unless there were an overwhelming need to lease it to a corporation or some such for the general public good.

    Reply
  6. I listened to the whole podcast and I agreed with some of it but I feel you made some assumptions that do not always apply.
    1- all clubs were riverbank clubs, not ponds or lakeside affairs
    2- all fishermen were perpetually able to wade rivers.

    I belong to a club which owns and manages 3 small ponds that yes are stocked, but not stocked and fed.

    For the time being and for the forseeable season I have been disabled by a major knee surgery . I am also 71 yers old and with my mobility issues I am not going to the Westfield river or the Penomscott in Maine to fish pocket water with my tightline rig.
    However I will go to my club and fish for stocked fish and probably take a nap in the Adirondack chairs in the shade looking at the fish rise. Club rules are C&R. Fly fishing only, barbless hooks.
    If the club were not there you would see “Pondview condos” and overpriced suburban housing less than 30 mins to Boston. Would that be preferable?
    And this old fellow would be tying flies that would never get fished.
    So some clubs are ok. Classist? yes expensive, yes but so is everything these days that used to be fun.
    Yes your premise about stoking over native fish is correct but not all clubs are like that,
    and my club allows me to continue to enjoy fly fishing.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment Richard.

      “Yes your premise about stoking over native fish is correct but not all clubs are like that,”

      Agreed. And we addressed that no less than four times in the podcast episode. Please give it another listen if you missed it. We separated the difference between clubs stocking over wild trout vs clubs that do not. I won’t rehash it here, because it’s there for you in the podcast.

      Also, we didn’t address stillwater vs rivers because it doesn’t matter. Likewise with wading vs not wading, it doesn’t matter.

      Cheers.
      Dom

      Reply
    • With where these guys fish in PA, much of what they have to say about clubs is really about one specific club, who are in fact dastardly with their stocking practices and legal maneuvering to keep the public off some of the best water in the state. They don’t call out the club by name to be cautious and it goes with their practice of not naming the rivers they fish.

      Reply
      • Jimmy Carter Creek serves as the model for most of the clubs in this state and beyond. They choose non-navigable water that is cold all year round and has a healthy population of wild trout. They privatize it and clubify it by stocking over the wild trout, because those ones aren’t big enough or easy enough to catch. Then they feed all the trout and charge for a “trophy trout” experience.

        Reply
  7. This is the first time I’ve heard you guys and I’m already diggin’ it.

    I don’t spend thousands to travel to PA but I do drive over from north east Ohio quite a bit. And you’re right, it stinks to be surrounded by a shrubbery, kneeling beside a Class A brookie stream, only to catch a finless tank. Even if the drive is only a couple hours.

    You mentioned in the podcast reaching out to representatives regarding stocking over wild fish. I would say give them an official example to look to. Namely, the state of Maine and what they do regarding brookies and state heritage waters. Those waters are open for fishing but it’s illegal to use live baits, or stock them even if you have a club.

    I’m sure there are many guides and anglers out there who can recognize the historical, and monetary (out-of-state license fees, anybody?), importance of PA’s wild fishery and if your representatives were made aware of what it means to folks who make their living on the water, residents, and tourists like me, you may have people more willing to listen and enact laws to prevent stocking over wild fish in at least some instances.

    Keep up the good work, and keep on offending people because that’s the only way some folks will ever hear you.

    Reply
    • Hi there. I’m glad you found Troutbitten. Trust me . . . we’ve been after the state to change their policies for decades. Things are moving in the right direction (mostly). But it takes people like you making their voices heard.

      Here’s the recent article that asks for public comment. And yes, there is a specific message: Stop stocking over wild trout.

      Cheers.
      Dom

      Reply
  8. I’m with you guys on this one, as I am with 99% of what you say. It makes me wonder, though, how I would feel if somebody came up with a workable proposal to get rid of all the brown trout in the rivers I love and replace them with brook trout, which would be smaller and maybe fewer in number, but are native to my region. I know that there have been movements to do this out west to reintroduce and strengthen cutthroat populations. I don’t think I’d like it, mostly because 1) brown trout are big, smart, and fun to fish for and 2) I’ve been fishing for brown trout for many years now and don’t want to change. I wouldn’t argue against the proposal for those reasons, I would probably come up with arguments that Rotenone damages the environment, or that brown trout would just get reintroduced, but the truth is, even if somebody could wave a magic wand and get rid of all the brown trout and replace them with native brookies, I would probably be against it. So, even though I would love to see that club on Jimmy Carter Creek go, or at least stop the freelance stocking, I understand why there are people who would fight me on it (even though they’re wrong).

    Reply
    • Hi Kevin, I think bringing the native vs wild debate into this just complicates things too much. It’s a different discussion. I always say we are thankful for the brown trout here, because the brook trout simply cannot thrive in most places where the brown trout have displaced them. Through logging and various kinds of pollution, we would have no trout in most streams if it wasn’t for wild brown trout.

      Your thoughts about how we would feel about replacing them with the native brook trout are a fun thought experiment, but because it’s just not possible, I don’t give it much thought. I’m happy for what we have.

      That’s me.

      Cheers.
      Dom

      Reply
  9. Club fishing is a joke to me. The cynic in me believes it will never go away, and only spread. Why? Because catching wild trout is often hard. It takes time, practice, and significant hours on the water to obtain the skills that allow for good drifts on a consistent basis. Who wants something hard when something could be easy instead, for just some $$$? Posting pictures of giant club fish like it’s some type of angling accomplishment is just downright ridiculous.

    I have fished a setup before, and it’s fun to catch big fish on crappy drifts, but doing it all the time? Come on. However, if any club owners want to give me free access to their water I’ll take them up on it….

    Reply
    • Right on. Like we said in the podcast too, it’s a lot worse when they stock over wild trout.

      Reply
      • 100% agree. Delayed harvest stocking over wild fish in great wild trout fisheries is almost as bad, happens all the time here in the south.

        Reply
  10. I am a fly fisherman from the UK and I have just listened to the podcast re: The Trouble with Clubs. The points brought up are very strong regarding A1 water to locate clubs. So would it not be better to situate the clubs in an urban environment. Where firstly they would improve the habitat. Secondly achieve their goals as to getting people into fishing from different social backgrounds ie. you mentioned disadvantaged kids. Lastly, the run off of displaced fish, disease etc. would fall into bigger watersheds and presumably not be as environmentally damaging. Legislate that they should be set up this way and there would be room for all to enjoy fishing.

    Reply
  11. I have not read any other comments;

    Kudos to you Dom For talking about what you believe in even at the risk of losing some popularity and ruffling feathers.

    Reply
  12. Dom, thanks for the thought provoking podcast. You all strongly suggest that stocking over wild fish is harmful to fish populations. I’m wondering if there is any empirical evidence to support this , or just antedotal suspicion that the practice is harmful. Do you know of any studies where a stocked over wild trout river is returned to a non stocked river, and what the outcome was? It would seem like a fairly simple study for the fish commission to do, just stop stocking a section of water over 3-5 years and measure the outcome. I suspect they are reluctant to do this , since if it proves what we suspect, they will have to change the way they “manage” our waters, but it seems like a very logical first step to take.

    Reply
    • My friend, we mentioned this in the podcast, An Entirely Synethetic Fish, by Anders Halverson is what you want. It’s all there. Check out the bibliography.

      You can also consider what happened in Montana when they stopped stocking trout. Now that’s some empirical evidence on a large scale.

      Cheers.
      Dom

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Articles

Recent Posts

Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I 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.

Pin It on Pinterest