McKenzie Flyfishers, McKenzie River Guides Association weigh in on hatchery trout

The McKenzie Flyfisher’s Fishery Committee–composed of members with a variety of outlooks–is continuing its extensive consideration of the issue of reducing or removing hatchery trout from the McKenzie River.

The club is still deliberating its official position, but has recently posted a substantial report on the McKenzie River Hatchery issue under the “News” section of the club’s website.

This is a very well-balanced, well-researched document and it draws the following conclusions:
-There is a consensus in the scientific community that in general, hatchery fish do harm native fish.
-Jeff Ziller, South Willamette Watershed District Fish Biologist agrees with the scientific consensus.
-ODFW and Army Corps of Engineers biologists suspect from observational evidence that the depression of wild rainbow trout populations in the planted zone is substantial, or even severe.

Despite the McKenzie FlyFishers’ Committee’s independent findings that hatchery trout are harming native trout populations on the McKenzie River, The McKenzie River Guides Association has maintained its official position, that it wants the McKenzie River be stuffed to the bursting point with hatchery fish.

Arlen Thomason, chair of the McKenzie Flyfishers committee on this issue, noted author and biologist had the following to say:

“In a late-breaking turn of events, the McKenzie River Guides Association’s Board of Directors has formally adopted a policy affirming its previously stated position in support of the continued planting of hatchery trout as it is currently being practiced in the McKenzie. Taking off my hat now as chairman of the Fishery Committee, and speaking for myself, this is an unfortunate and disappointing development, as I had hoped they would keep open minds and seek common ground with other groups who are concerned with the health of the river. For an organization that has a history of service to the river community, the decision to disregard the well-being of McKenzie native redsides reflects poorly on its membership, many of whom are otherwise good people and have much to lose from a continued decline of our wild trout. The adopted policy maintains that the acknowledged depression of the native redside population within half of its McKenzie range is a purely social and not a biological issue, and that anyone advocating changes to help it is guilty of selfishness. The policy is disingenuous at best. It is akin to saying that a disease like diabetes or hypertension is not a biological issue because it’s a chronic condition that you can live with, at least for a while. The truth of course is that it most certainly is a biological issue; it’s the decision whether it should be treated or tolerated, when weighed against the costs, that is the social issue.”

You can contact members of the McKenzie River Guides Association board here, and share your opinion on who it is exactly that’s working for their own self-interest and not for the good of the fishery.


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3 Responses to McKenzie Flyfishers, McKenzie River Guides Association weigh in on hatchery trout

  1. David Jensen says:

    Matt, the next McKenzie River Guides Association meeting is February 6, and this is a discussion item. I hope that there will be MRGA members there who dissent from the board’s position. I will be there doing that, and I hope Chris and others who are MRGA members will also.

    Aside from the biology, the MRGA position doesn’t make sense to me. I am going to ask how many members have ever hired a guide to fish. Most have in Alaska, Canada etc. My next question is: How many have hired a guide to fish for planters? The answer will be a round number: 0. I believe that if the Forest Glen to the dam section was managed for wild trout, the guides would find a vigorous customer base. The Ollalie to Forest Glen section has for years, but there are some guides who are uncomfortable boating there, especially if they are boating 2 guests.

  2. Arlen says:

    David, considering some of the laudable projects the MRGA has supported in the past, I’ve held out hope that its leadership would come to its senses and act responsibly. That hope is fading, but maybe you and like-minded members can still be successful in turning things around. The position they are taking hurts all sides, but particularly the MRGA members themselves. Nothing good can come in the long run from fishing guides adopting a stance against wild, native fish, and actively working to block measures that would help them. It takes a long time to build a reputation, but not so long to lose one.

    The chance to join in and help shape a positive solution is still here. If positions continue to harden, that opportunity is likely to disappear.

  3. Frank Armendariz says:

    Weather you agree that hatchery fish should be planted in the McKenzie
    or not. Insulting emails do not add to the conversation and are just
    plain childish.

    I think we should have some limited release to kill hatchery fish. The
    McKenzie is the only major river in Oregon where you can boat and take
    home a limit of hatchery fish. A river boat fishing experience is a
    very important part of Oregon history and tradition and a way of life
    for some of the finest people I have ever meet.
    I don’t think we should lose that.

    Frank Armendariz

    Who guides on the rivers of the great northwest…….

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