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Old 06-17-2009, 12:39 AM
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Default Native or Stockie?

I assume that these trout are native, or wild. But, how can you tell?
Some have a lot more yellow color and have vivid red dots. The stockies seem to be a washed out silver color.
Please chime in you experienced wild trout guys. I haven't got a clue except I assume the yellow trout are wild.
http://i556.photobucket.com/albums/s...9/IMGP4710.jpg
http://i556.photobucket.com/albums/s...9/IMGP4716.jpg
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Old 06-17-2009, 06:32 AM
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Default Re: Native or Stockie?

They look native to me. The only way I can tell is the condition of the fins. The fins on your fish seem nice and sharp and not worn away by rubbing in the hatchery tanks.
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Old 06-17-2009, 07:03 AM
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Default Re: Native or Stockie?

I don't think color is that much of a factor; color would be controlled by genes and environment to a point. Think of a brown in a fairly open sandy area; it will be lighter to blend in. In an area that has some cover they will be a little darker. If this a stream that is normally stocked, assume it is a stocker. Does PA fin clip their stocked fish, if so check to see which fin and go from there.

Dan
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Old 06-17-2009, 10:59 AM
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Default Re: Native or Stockie?

I've always thought coloration was a key part of it. Around here, there's a sharp distinction between the markings on native and stocked brookies -- it's unmissable. Pics I've seen of native rainbows often show pretty different markings. I've always thought browns were a bit harder to tell, although it's been shown to me.

HuronRiverDan: I think you're right to a large extent about colors, but if the stocked trout were taken from a different strain than the native locals (or hadn't been bred for particular coloration), wouldn't there be some difference in color? Or would fish take on colors that help them in a given environment (either relatively quickly, or over the course of a few years, relevant in C&R locations)?

Another question I have, that might be useful in teasing out some answers: can you tell the difference between wild, and wild-born fish (fish born in the stream but of half or full stocked fish parentage)? And can you tell a difference between recently stocked and holdover fish? I've been told the answer is "yes" to the latter question, although I'm not too sure how it would work exactly
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Old 06-17-2009, 12:25 PM
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Default Re: Native or Stockie?

For what it's worth there's a distinction between wild and native.

"Native" fish are fish historically occurring in watersheds without any intervention from man. Brown trout were not native to N. America, so all the brown trout here in the US are descendants from stocking at some point. The only "native" trout in the US in streams of the East are Brook Trout (which is actually a char). Rainbows are natives of the West, and have been introduced to the East.

"Wild" fish can be "native" or "non-native" and are the results of self sustaining populations born in the wild. Rainbows and Brown trout have established wild populations that spawn successfully and the off spring are said to be "wild" as opposed to hatchery produced. Since some of the descendants are the results of stockings that occurred in the 1880's, there has been a lot of time for fish to adapt in the wild to their individual environments.

The distinction is important since there are some efforts to "reclaim" native fish by eliminating "wild" introduced species (even though they are self sustaining naturally reproducing populations) because the "wild" introduced species out compete the natives and are endangering the populations of native fish. Examples are brook trout in the Smokies where efforts to control rainbows and browns and cutthroat trout in Yellowstone where there are efforts to control introduced but now "wild" Lake Trout. To complicate things a bit, the Lake Trout (also a char" rather than a true "trout") are native to North America, but not to the lakes they were stocked in Yellowstone and are aggressive predators of cuts.

Here in the East we have wild self sustaining populations of native brook trout, non-native rainbows and non-native browns, as well as stocked versions. Many stockers get cleaned out shortly after stocking, but some may manage to hold over and get to reproduce with wild populations at least to some extent if the environmental conditions (like summer water temps) allow it.

Time in the stream will also help muddy the difference a bit between stocked and wild fish and for eggs and fingerlings stocked in streams it may be impossible.

On stockers look for clipped fins and worn fins and bruised noses from raceways. Even clipped or damaged fins that grow back a bit after a while in the stream will look deformed.

Some also tend to have small heads relative to the rest of the body, indicating fast growth from a steady hatchery diet. The silvery footballs sometimes found in streams are good examples. Colors tend to darken up a bit and get more brilliant with time in the stream. I've heard that signs of red spots and edging on fins (as opposed to pale orange), like the tail, anal and adipose fins in your first pic are signs of an insect diet, and are likely to be "wild" fish, or stocked trout that have been in the stream a long time. Insects have copper in their "blue" blood that carries oxygen instead of the iron in ground up baitfish feed in hatcheries.

The ability to tell wild fish from stockers and hold overs gets pretty difficult. In the case of brown trout, they're definitely not "native" to N America, but your fish could be "wild". The only sure way to identify holdovers from true wild fish in the absence of fin clips would probably be to look at the scales under a microscope to check out the growth rings. Wild fish should have irregular rings whereas hold overs would have signs of steady growth from their steady food supply in the hatchery in their early years.

Based on your pics, your fish looks like it's in fine shape with fins, red spots and fin edges, and a head in proportion to the rest of the body so it could very well be wild- at the very least it sure looks like it's been in the stream awhile. You may want to give your area fisheries biologist a call as dan suggested. He/she could tell you whether they stock that stream or manage it for a "wild" brown trout fishery, and if they do stock, could tell you where to look for fin clips.

BTW, nice fish, whatever it's family tree!

mark
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Old 06-17-2009, 01:24 PM
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Default Re: Native or Stockie?

Nice fish!

I was going to answer but I noticed that peregrines did a great job explaining the differences between "native" and "wild".
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Old 06-17-2009, 02:25 PM
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Default Re: Native or Stockie?

Thanks for the great post, peregrines.
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Old 06-17-2009, 11:18 PM
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Default Re: Native or Stockie?

Thanks Mark,
I release everything anyway, after a pic, but I wondered why the trout here look so different.
Another thing that I've noticed is: the trout with a lot of yellow seem to be much more healthy. Even a 10" yellow brown will jump two feet out of the water and fight like crazy.
Lots of rain here in PA. The trout fishing has been great for me.
In a couple weeks when July rolls in, most of the fish will die from the hot shallow water.
I wish the PA fishing license was at least $100...... maybe $200! With the extra money they could stock fish even in the summer for us folks who love to fish all year. Even a truckload of sunfish or chubs in the streams every couple weeks would be a wonderful thing.
I could have a ball catchin' 10" fallfish in the local streams. Or 5" sunfish!! they hit flies better than trout do.
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Old 06-17-2009, 11:30 PM
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Default Re: Native or Stockie?

Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyRichardFly View Post
<snip>

I wish the PA fishing license was at least $100...... maybe $200! With the extra money they could stock fish even in the summer for us folks who love to fish all year. Even a truckload of sunfish or chubs in the streams every couple weeks would be a wonderful thing.
I could have a ball catchin' 10" fallfish in the local streams. Or 5" sunfish!! they hit flies better than trout do.



But the key is to find wild streams where they don't stock The fish look and fight much better. But stockers taste better
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Old 06-18-2009, 01:00 AM
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Default Re: Native or Stockie?

Sasha,
So true, but when I go fishing, I like to catch some fish.
There are some tiny wild trout streams here in PA. And with my 1wt I will have a great time there.
But .......... I would rather catch 10 Fallfish then 1 native trout! I would much rather catch 20 medium sized sunfish than a 20" wild trout!!
I release everything anyway, so the most fish caught is the most fun for me.
I don't care about what fish it is, I just care about the action, the bend in my rod and the fun I'll have.
Carp, the poor mans bonefish, is what I'll be after soon. Soon I think I'll have a ball with all the trash fish in the Susquehanna.
I tie my flies, and I spend lots of money for my top shelf tackle, but it's catchin' the fish that is what I'm after.
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