Trout Unlimited and our coalition partners campaign to remove hatchery trout from the Mckenzie River remains in high gear. Over the course of the next week or so I’m going to look at some of the criticisms directed at the campaign and of course, refute them.
Critics say we are “greedy” (I’ve been called worse) and don’t want to “share” the resource. (This is ironic.) They say we want to take trout out of Jr.’s creel and deny kids the joy of fishing. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The truth is that of about 113,000 trout stocked in the Mckenzie annually, maybe 37% percent make it to the creel and that’s a high end estimate. By my calculation, about 82,500 of the hatchery trout stocked last year were not caught by anglers and instead died of natural causes! What a waste! On top of that abysmall return rate, the Cape Cod hatchery strain trout are severely depressing our magnificent native redsides. That is no way to maximize opportunity or to treat our Oregon’s native trout. It’s tragic.
There is a hard cap on the number of trout ODFW can stock in the district. If you want people to harvest more trout, you have to put the trout where they are easier to harvest. If ODFW was serious about maximizing opportunity for taking trout, ODFW would plant trout where they get a high creel return rate, not the Mckenzie. Stillwater stocking can have a catch rate of 90% or more. Putting all the hatchery trout destined for the Mckenzie in those waters could result in about 60,000 more trout on Jr.’s stringer and the Mckenzie Redside trout would rebound.
There would be more trout for those who define opportunity as this:
and for those of us who prefer our opportunity like this: