Fly-Fishing: Trout Unlimited will no longer help stock streams holding native trout

By order of Trout Unlimited’s National Leadership Council, local TU chapters may no longer help stoc

By order of Trout Unlimited’s National Leadership Council, local TU chapters may no longer help stock streams that hold native trout.

The policy, announced early this month, is largely symbolic, since most stocking of streams is conducted by state and local government agencies and will probably go on without TU’s help — although the group does sometimes provide volunteer labor that’s helpful in this era of budget cuts.

TU did not ask its members not to fish streams that hold both native and hatchery fish. But the organization doesn’t want its members taking part in something many feel is harmful to native trout.

Here in the East, the practical impact of the policy is that TU chapters can’t help stock brown or rainbow trout in streams where native brook trout are known to live, brookies being the only trout native to this part of the world.

(Browns, of course, came from Europe, and rainbows were imported from Cal­ifornia.)

Note the distinction between native and wild. Trout that were born in the stream, not a hatchery, are considered wild, but they’re usually descendants of stocked fish. Natives, on the other hand, are direct descendants of the trout that were here when the glaciers melted.

There aren’t many natives left, and that’s the point. Introducing hatchery trout to compete with natives for food and shelter doesn’t seem to be doing the already-pressured native fish any favors.

“Since this came out, I have been researching the peer-reviewed literature, and it seems that all the research I can find supports this new policy,” said one chapter president, who’s also a university professor. “Thus far, I haven’t found a single study that concluded that the stocking of non-natives over natives was innocuous. All the studies seem to find negative consequences.”

Trout Unlimited has never been crazy about the idea of stocking trout. In fact, the organization was formed in 1959 by men tired of the easy-to-catch, cookie-cutter trout being stocked in the Au Sable River in Michigan. They wanted to save the river for wild trout, which were smarter, prettier and more satisfying to catch.

However, it’s worth noting that TU’s founders didn’t insist on preserving the Au Sable for native trout — because it had none. The closest thing to a trout that nature stocked in the Au Sable was grayling.


It’s fishing show season, and one of the nicest ones is coming up in a few weeks. The Arts of the Angler Show, sponsored by the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum, will take place Nov. 12-13 at the Ethan Allen Inn, Danbury, Conn.

Among the featured guests will be John Mordock, speaking on underfished Catskills streams; Fran Verdoliva on sec­rets of the Salmon River; Aaron Jasper on Czech nymphing; and many others. Upwards of three dozen fly-tiers will be tying, including local favorites Bob Mead, Dave Brant, Bill Newcomb and Fly Tyer columnist Jay “Fishy” Fullum.

Naturally, there will be tons of tackle, new and antique, for sale, along with books, videos, seminars on bamboo rod-making and antique tackle appraisals.

Admission is $12, $10 for CFFCM members, and free for youths 16 and younger. For more information, visit

Morgan Lyle’s commentary appears regularly in The Daily Gazette. Reach him at [email protected]

Categories: -Sports

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