Seems as though my first “Fan Mail” post was a little bit like pouring rocket fuel on an already hot burning fire. From somewhere in the Great Lakes region (I’m just guessing), Chuck sends this photo of a big and beautiful un-clipped hatchery lakerun Skamania steelhead:

I’m so tired of this nonsense about wild versus hatchery steelhead – real , not real!
The argument has it’s foundation in the perception of how well fish fight when hooked.

Anyone who thinks hatchery fish don’t fight hasn’t caught a Skamania steelhead in lake Michigan! They probably haven’t hooked a stocked Atlantic salmon in the St. Marie’s Rapids either! Even the Manistee Steelhead fish fight really well!

I’ve been spooled by everything from a hatchery , lake run, Brown trout to a Carp!  Yep, that’s right …….even a carp!

This argument is asserted by those who want to perpetuate the romance of wild fish – which is great, but it’s nonsense to assert that all wild fish provide a better angling experience than hatchery fish! It’s even greater nonsense to insinuate that catching the wild fish makes them better, which I suspect is the real endeavor!


Thanks for taking the time to weigh in with your thoughts, Chuck.

Real quickly let’s explain something for those not in the know, and before I do so let me state that I won’t pretend to know much anything about the steelhead in the Great Lakes region other than what I’ve read. Skamania steelhead are one of the strains of steelhead introduced to the Great Lakes system, and these Skamania fish run up the rivers in the early summer. Other strains head into the rivers in the fall and winter.  On the left coast similar runs of fish occur in both the summer and winter, although our real anadromous fish come in from the ocean before heading into the rivers. I do know that the steelhead in the Great Lakes originated in the Pacific Northwest and no, they did not migrate east of their own accord.

And actually, Chuck, if there are anti-hatchery sentiments as far as steelhead are concerned, in my assessment it has less to do with how well they fight and more with the fact that many left coasters want our dwindling runs of wild, native fish to be given a chance to rebound. The presence of hatchery fish in our west coast rivers is keeping commercial harvest alive, and as long as there is commercial harvest it’s bad for the native fish. Hatchery fish also serve the purpose of providing a recreational fishing quarry (and generate license sales for the fish and game department), but they also compete for food and habitat with the native fish. What’s worst of all is that the presence of hatchery fish serves to shroud the issues surrounding native fish.  There are a lot of anti-hatchery sentiments and I can’t begin to communicate in any valuable manner.

I’ve caught a couple native winter fish that didn’t exactly light me up with their fighting ability, but in their defense they’d come a long way from the ocean, into Puget Sound and up many miles of river, avoiding nets and seals and sea lions and treble hooks. I’ll cut them a little slack for not tail-walking me into the next county. 😉

Interestingly I’ve only had one West coast angler send in their thoughts and fish porn.  Consider this your call to action!