S2:E19 Differences between Native and Wild Trout

Wild trout – those two words together make no sense. Aren’t all trout wild? We all know the story of hatchery trout, but what about wild and native trout? What are the differences between the two? Understanding the category of trout that you catch may not necessarily help you catch more of them. But it will round out your fly fishing acumen, and give you a better grasp of what’s at stake in the rivers you fish. Listen to our episode now.

Listen to our episode “Native vs. Wild Trout”

At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” We read a few of the comments from this blog or from our Facebook page. We enjoying hearing from our readers and listeners, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experience.

Anything you would add to our discussion on native vs. wild trout? What is your favorite kind of fish to catch?

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11 Replies to “S2:E19 Differences between Native and Wild Trout”

  1. HI guys!

    This is Roger Bird again, from down here in Texas. Just listened to your podcast on Native and Wild Trout. Very interesting, as always.

    Recently, I read the book, “An Entirely Synthetic Fish”, by Anders Halverson. It was a great read. It gave the history on how rainbow trout were integrated from California to the eastern United States, and the rest of the world. Then, it goes into how people realized that rainbows are not native to their water, and the damage they did to the native fish as an invasive species. I think you eluded to that when you talked about the removal of fish in Colorado in favor of the native fish in the podcast. Toward the end of the book, it delved into the genetics, and how you really cannot discern native fish due to the cross breeding that has taken place.

    For anyone who is interested in this topic, I highly recommend it, as it is an easy read, and contains great information on the history of our sport in the United States.

  2. You put a dark cloud on my flyfishing here in East Tn with this podcast. Here we have several state run fisheries that supply local streams. If I can’ catch these local fish I don’t stand a chance with true natural fish. Great job I enjoy all of your podcasts.

    1. Hi Ed, you’ve got the South Holston which has wild rainbows and browns in East Tn, as well as brookies in the mountains. I don’t know if you ever fish in Va, but Whitetop Laurel is supposed to be a great wild fishery. Tight lines.

    2. Sorry, Ed! We don’t want to put a dark cloud over your next trip (haha). In my experience, stocked fish can be just as difficult (or more difficult) to catch than truly wild trout. I suspect that has to do with what stocked fish from a hatchery are conditioned to eat. Thanks for the kind words about the podcast.

  3. Interesting podcast, some of my favorite fishing in my area is for native brookies in the Shenandoah National Park. I recently found out that some of these fish aren’t native after all, apparently the park service restocked some streams in the mid-twentieth century with brookies after a devastating drought. I know it shouldn’t matter, but it does to me for some reason, I like the idea that I’m catching fish that can trace their ancestry back to the ice age. Unfortunately, brown trout from state stocking programs have also established themselves in the park, too. These browns will devastate the brook population if left unchecked.

    1. These are interesting insights, Bob. Thanks for commenting. Yes, I too find satisfaction in catching native fish. I caught a couple dozen browns one day last week in a river in Yellowstone National Park–and I enjoyed every minute of it. But I also have to say that catching a couple big Yellowstone Cutthroat trout in that same stretch was extra special, knowing that they are truly native fish.

  4. Love your down to earth, home tied podcasts. I hope you have as much fun doing the episodes as I do listening to them. A thought on wild vs stocked fish. My local trout stream, the Rose River runs out of the Shenadoah National Park (in Virginia). The regulations state that all brown trout less then 10″ be left on the bank. You can take ones over that if you really want to. They haven’t been stocked since the 80’s and are considered invasive and compete with the native brookies. I’m descended from European immigrants and can be considered invasive so I put the browns back! There is a waterfall that blocks their return to the highest headwaters so I consider that good enough. Best, Eric

    1. Hah! Hilarious. Love the “invasive species” comment. Perfect!

      I am down to earth and home tied. Steve is not. He is hoity-toity. jk!

  5. This episode was great. Native trout are fascinating! And it’s amazing just how much diversity there is when you start reading about the dozens and dozens of varieties and subspecies out there. Many native trout have ended up restricted to some pretty isolated waters, and I think that doing a bit of research and going out of your way to catch them has an element of treasure hunting to it that is really cool.

    But you guys are right, natives bring up some interesting ethical questions too. Managing for browns/rainbows or for natives is definitely one. And on one occasion I was actually convinced by a fisheries biologist NOT to fish a certain creek because the specific native subspecies that lived there is threatened and would be better off not being caught (I avoided the place, but I confess that it hurt me a bit to do so). Seems like fishing ethics can get a bit tricky sometimes

    1. Thanks, Steve. Great insight. As an environmental scientist, you understand the importance of managing native species. I just read a piece that argued against hatcheries for steelhead … saying that they are weak and inferior versions of the native Steelhead and complicate the ecosystem and that there are better ways to build the fish population.

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