Following our initial call on September 17th in the Register-Guard to remove or at least reduce the number of hatchery trout in the McKenzie, the McKenzie River Guides Association responded with its counterargument.
Today, David Vázquez and Scott Kinney blew that counterargument out of the water with Hatchery trout have their place, just not in the McKenzie. Here are a few great excerpts:
Why the McKenzie Guides Association supports hatchery fish:
The only party outside of the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife that has direct input on the inner workings of the McKenzie stocking program is the McKenzie Guides’ Association. Every January, three association representatives meet with the state and decide where and when to plant trout in the McKenzie. The guides stock from boats, frequently placing fish in areas inaccessible to the non-boating public.
Hatchery trout are not the property of the guides, even though “regular” anglers may never see fish stocked by them.
Why hatchery trout hurt native fish populations:
The states’s own management plans implicate hatchery trout as the main barrier to healthy wild populations. The science is simple: When Fish and Wildlife plants hundreds of thousands of hatchery trout, they simply outnumber (and thereby outcompete) wild rainbow and cutthroat trout, Endangered Species Act-listed bull trout and spring chinook salmon rearing in the river.
What the future could hold:
Guides and their clients still could fish for wild fish (which are perceived by many anglers to be a superior quarry). Even better, guides could charge premium prices for the experience as wild fish populations increase.
The assumption that wild fish would increase as hatchery fish are removed is not an unsupported claim. The state’s own biologists have stated publicly that wild fish would migrate quickly into areas overrun with hatchery fish. Oregon’s blue-ribbon Metolius and Deschutes rivers are examples of a rapid recovery of wild populations after the elimination of hatchery plants.
If you’re interested in getting involved with this debate over native fish management on the McKenzie, check out our list of the top ten ways to get involved.