Does a Stocked Trout Ever Become Wild?

silver creek

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I just listened to a Orvis Fly Fishing Guide Podcast with John McMillan in which some epigenetics is discussed and changes that occur hatchery trout. He states that one way to tell what fish were raised in a hatchery is to look at scale samples. The hatchery fish scales will show wide spacing for the time they spend in that hatchery when food and therefore growth was fast.

Another epigenetic change is that the hatchery situation selects for trout with rapid metabolism since food is abundant. The opposite is true in stream bred trout. They are selected for slower metabolism because they have to survive with less food so slower metabolism is a survival advantage.

You can listen to the podcast here:

Trout Markings and their Significance, with John McMillan
 

hatidua

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I think I've learned more in this thread than any other I've read on this forum :thumbsup:
 

patrick62

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There's a little mountain stream in my town that was stocked with browns up until about 15 years ago. The browns survive in the lower part. There's a stretch upstream where browns and brooks coexist to some extent. After that it's pretty much all brookies.

The browns are not easy to catch. They might not be strictly wild, but they do a damn good impression.
 

sweetandsalt

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Patrick, If you read earlier in this fine thread you will find described that indeed, your stream reproducing browns are "wild", they are not though "native" being an introduced population.
 

jayr

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Yes, I get it.

I wonder why the browns only get upstream to a certain point though.
I can't speak for your area, but down here in the GSMNP, browns cannot survive or should I say thrive at the higher elevations mainly due to the lack of food sources. As the elevation gets higher, the streams get smaller as does the available food.

There are only a handful of streams here where wild browns co-mingle with brook trout. It is a very few select streams that they do this.
 

original cormorant

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I can't speak for your area, but down here in the GSMNP, browns cannot survive or should I say thrive at the higher elevations mainly due to the lack of food sources. As the elevation gets higher, the streams get smaller as does the available food.
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I have absolutely no expertise in this area but would be surprised if elevation and poor feeding are the explanation - they thrive in the Alps (as natives) and the Himalayas (as immigrants) and plenty of places with little food.
 

dillon

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I believe one reason why most trout in mountain streams are small is the lack of food. Trout become fluvial, migrating throughout a watershed in search for food and optimal seasonal water conditions for survival and spawning. Where access to the sea is available some may become anadromous as others are resident. Knowing the lifecycle and patterns of behavior of the fish one seeks, is the knowledge and passion for the fish that is one aspect of a complete angler, in my opinion.
 

trev

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All trout are wild.
In my 70 years on this rock I have never seen a Tame trout. If you think all trout aren't wild get into a hatchery pool and catch a few bare handed. I still recall spending a hour in such a pool when I was young and agile and the Day's Pay that I lost on that bet with the hatchery man.
Stand at the bridge pool with leash and call out to those fresh stockers to see if any come tamely.
 

sweetandsalt

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White Face Herefords breed and birth on open range but remain selectively bred domestic livestock. Hatchery rainbows have been developed by fish culturists to have a rapid metabolism, fast growth and early sexual maturity for productivity purposes. They are a domesticated strain. Most stocked do not survive the year but those that do may reproduce in the wild yielding "wild" offspring but it takes some generations of natural selection before a wild population is sustainable in an introduced habitat.
 

flytie09

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All trout are wild.
In my 70 years on this rock I have never seen a Tame trout. .....Stand at the bridge pool with leash and call out to those fresh stockers to see if any come tamely.
This is the quote of 2020.
 

dillon

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Hatchery raised rainbow trout do very well in a lake environment, particularly if there is not a feeder stream for spawning. Triploid trout, which are sterile are the best trout to stock in these environment. They have a fast growth rate if there is a good natural food supply and do not have the urge to spawn. Diploids, which are not sterile have problems in lakes where there is no spawning stream. Of course, trout can not spawn or release their eggs or milt in Stillwater as bass and other warm water fishes do. I have been fishing some private high desert lakes through a lease type agreement for a few years. I have also become involved in the fish management of them. There are some large fish in the twenty inch range that were planted over three years ago as 14 inches. They are healthy fat fish. This spring we restocked the lakes with a mix of steelhead and kamloops strain trout in the 6 to 14 inch range. These lake are fed with spring and well water and have excellent insect habitat. We do not supplement with any other feed and the trout quickly adapt to and flourish in this environment. If not for some with deformed fins from life in Hatchery ponds, by appearance and fight one woul think they are wild. I truly love fishing for them and watching them sip midges, and calibaetis, or smash a damsel fly as they cruise the shoreline reeds. For the most part they are left alone as their are only a few that are allowed to fish there. We practice catch and release, barbless hook fishing because they are expensive and we limit the number of fish stocked so as not to over crowd the environment. Only the Osprey are allowed to harvest fish, but only two a day under 18 inches...

Again these Hatchery raised fish are near perfect for this type of environment, but I am opposed to the introduction of hatchery trout in streams where they could spawn or compete for food with native or wild fish.
 

AzTrouter

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A great discussion :- )

I read a Kindle book awhile back that covered a lot of these topics surrounding stocking and also habitat that related specifically to the Southwest.

‘Trout In The Desert’ by Matthew Dickerson
 

old timer

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Yeah, and I must be Italian because I love spaghetti. Wait! I am.

You seem to have missed my point. When hatchery trout are first put in lakes/rivers they won't feed on insects but will gobble up Powerbait balls. That's what they were brought up eating. Over time they start to feed like wild trout.
 

sweetandsalt

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"Wild" is not defined by how we fish to trout but rather by their functioning as wild animals in all regards, spawning, migration, genetic and behaviorally adaptation via selectivity of survival traits to their non-native, introduced but appropriate habitat. I strive to avoid doing so by where I fish but surly have caught fish feeding on mayflies that are of deformed fin and/or fin clipped obvious domestic origin that may well not survive the winter may never migrate to spawning grounds and if they do will only be diluting the more sound genetic stock of wild fish. Hatchery fish are provided by fishery "managers" to please us citizens who pay taxes not for the sake of enhancing a natural environment.
 
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