Montanans weighing in on the McKenzie River hatchery issue

As many of you are aware, Montana was once a hatchery-addicted state, and moved to wild fish management decades ago. From the recent book, Saving Homewaters:

Montana fisheries managers also realized early on that put-and-take trout planting hurts native fish: Every river has a limited amount of energy it can produce in the form of food for aquatic life. Pollution, siltation, increased water temperature, and dewatering by irrigation or drought all play significant roles as trout species compete with one another for available food. In lay terms, the equation is: More competition requires more expenditure of physical energy, leading to less growth. Older larger trout, especially wild rainbows, browns and cutthroats, simply cannot compete as effectively with younger, more aggressive feeders like stocked trout.

Some Montanans raised a lot of the same arguments that McKenzie River hatchery proponents are using now. And if you don’t believe me that fishing is better in Montana since the change, you can hear it from them:

From Curt McChesney: Folks, I have lived in Mt for 57 years and have lived through the era of “we cannot quit planting fish, what will we eat and no one will stay in our hotels and eat in our cafes?”. We have survived quite well and yes the meathooks can still eat a few fish. The fisheries in Mt have never been better since we quit this method of fish production and turned to fisheries management. We have not planted a fish in moving water since 1973 and last Loch Laven (brown trout) was in planted in the Big Ho;e in 1968. I encourage you all to read a excellant book titled “Saving Home Waters”. Great read about a few folks who had the balls to make BIG changes in fisheries in Montana.

From Montana fishing guide Josh Stanish: Found this site online and I am amazed that your state guides association is in support of hatchery programs. I don’t know if it will help but the University of Montana has a great resource for finding economic benefits from fishing, hunting and outdoor recreation. They did a study years ago in regards to the price per pound of a trout versus good ole Beef. They found that the trout was many times more per pound due to the amount of money people invest in catching a trout, ie travel, hotel stays, guides, license purchases, dining out and other monies people spend on a fishing vacation. I will try and dig up the study from my old archives in my office.

This may be a great place to get some data to help support management of Wild Trout on the Mckenzie. The University of Montana has a program under their Forestry department called the Institute for Tourism and Recreation. They were the ones who did the study on trout vs beef and should be able to help provide information on the importance of Tourism related to fishing. Here is their website. http://www.itrr.umt.edu/index.html

Good luck with the fight! Wild trout live longer and grow larger, that in itself should be enough to encourage your guides association.

If you’re ready for wild trout management on the McKenzie, take ODFW’s angler preference survey and follow our top ten ways to fix the problem.

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One Response to Montanans weighing in on the McKenzie River hatchery issue

  1. Moon says:

    That falls right in line with what a Montana guide and author told me on the phone too… I will quote this as best as I can remember, but – just to be safe. Let’s just assume I am paraphrasing here. I had called this man after meeting him at the bamboo show at camp Sherman and was asking him his opinion on what Montana had done and how I might best go about putting together a presentation to show that our economy here would actually benefit by making the McKenzie River a “Wild Trout River” again. And in this long conversation he said this to me….

    “Look Moon, it isn’t that Montana has better fishing than Oregon – It’s just that we here in Montana have taken better care of our fishing than Oregon”….

    Anyway, I thought – WOW, when I heard that. Then he went on to mention that we have some benefits and advantages that they don’t, like our salmon and steelhead runs that oh btw, are going to hell too for much of the same reason.

    So thanks guys, good info…

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