This is an interesting blog. Congrats on getting in the New York Times! I've debated C&R versus C&K on trout message boards hundreds of times. I'm actually taking a break from the boards because a debate lead to the former Twin Cities TU president contacting my employer. Extreme fly fishing purists that will do anything to shut me up. I promote catching and keeping, especially in high number streams that need to be thinned out. Coincidentally these streams are the same ones that have had ton of habitat improvement and have become artificial only excluding the bait angler. One such stream has 12,000 trout/mile so what is the science that says bait anglers should adapt to other methods or be excluded. Any legal method of fishing everyone should be able to participate. If a particular fishery is so fragile with such low population numbers then nobody should be able to fish it. Your focus seems mainly on eradicating the brook trout. Even if we use something like rotenone which stops life at the mitochondrial level, fish will rebound and the strongest fish (native or invasive) will prevail, no? The way I see it Man was given this earth and we can do with it as we see fit. So today trout may be popular but browns where never here in the Driftless Area of MN - WI - IA - IL so should we eradicate the browns? Brooks are fun to catch but generally don't get all that big, at least in the limestone spring creeks I fish. A 13" brook trout for me is a biggie. A pair of 14" is my personal best so far. So do the brookies out compete cutthroat significantly? What river systems are we talking as examples?
In the Rocky Mtn West, exotic brookies DO compete in a serious way with our native westslope cutthroat trout. Locally this occurs on both eastslope (e.g. Big Hole River watershed) and westslope (e.g. Clark Fork River watershed) systems. TU and other groups have worked on various eradication strategies ranging from rotenone "nuke 'em all" with selected restocking to electrofishing removal. Also, in the Big Hole, brookies have played a major role in displacing our native fluvial Arctic grayling--the last self-sustaining native population in the lower 48 states.Pat Munday aka "EcoRover" http://ecorover.blogspot.com
Hey Mark... thanks for the thoughtful input. I honestly have no idea why native trout seem to be so easily pushed out of their native waters--perhaps evolving without competition gives them a predisposed weakness to interlopers. Same is true for brookies in their natal waters--I fished a brook trou stream in Virginia that was clearly on the verge of being completely overrun with rainbows. Here in cutthroat country, brookies do, indeed, tend to push cutthroats out of headwater streams, and I think that has do largely with timing. Cutties spawn in the spring, and the fry hatch out shortly after. Brookies spawn in the fall and the fry are out before snow flies, eating. By the time cutties are out of the egg sack, baby brookies are big enough to outcompete them. And, once brookies overtake a fishery, they stunt, as you noted. I can't count the number of six-inch brookies I've caught in water that should be cutthroat habitat.As for catch-and-release, I give credit where credit is due--it's likely saved our pastime. But, as I said in the NYT, we're imbibing in too much of a good thing. Thanks again for the note.CH
I'm tending to agree with Mark Dalquist and upacreek333 on this, with certain specific exceptions. In South Central Utah there are several mountain lakes. Brook trout may not be native, but the chance at one weighing five to seven and a half pounds is not to be lightly tossed off, unless you live in Labrador. There are also very good cutthroat waters on those same mountains. And several other places in the vicinity. Also, the cutts do the same thing to the grayling waters that brookies and rainbows are rightfully accused of doing to the cutts. So I quite agree in general. Just not in every case.