Regarding The True Value of Hatchery Salmon – – –

What is a hatchery spring Chinook worth?

Hatchery salmon are expensive to produce. That’s just the way it is.  But they are worth a lot of money too.  Money flowing into the economy of local and international communities.

How so?

I got lucky recently and, after much effort, caught an actual spring Chinook,.  Dozing off to sleep that evening, I got to thinking about what that fish was worth, and it was an interesting train of thought.

One hatchery spring Chinook. A good strong grab.  Twice into the backing.  Heavy head shakes.  Much adrenaline.  Much muttering of phrases like:

I am so happy.

This is sooooo much fun.

This one fish has made my season.

It’s ok if this fish gets away.

I am so lucky to be alive and to just be here today and have this salmon tugging on my line.

Oh-my-gosh, this fish is sooooo chrome.

I see the fly in the corner if his mouth, so all I have to do is not pull too hard.

And so on.

Just how much was this one fish worth? How much, really?

I tallied up the stuff that I pretty much have to have anytime I go salmon fishing.  Just salmon fishing.  Not to the movies or to the golf course.  Salmon fishing.

Here is what it looks like:  1 Toyota  4-runner – 1 Koffler Pram – 6 dedicated salmon fishing poles – 8 dedicated salmon reels – 6 dedicated spare spools for fly reels – 48 specialty fly lines dedicated to salmon fishing – 36 spools of leader tippet – 1,246 dedicated salmon flies – 27 dedicated fly boxes for salmon flies – 347 hot orange and chartreuse dyed saddles patches from Hareline Dubbin in Monroe, Oregon – 39 fly tying vises, 46 pr,. Scissors, 144 bobbins, and assorted fly tying tools – 2 castable fish finders – 2 electric outboard motors – 3 deep cycle batteries – 2 pr. trifocal Polaroid prescription sunglasses – 4 Simms gear bags dedicated to salmon – 2 pr. Simms waders – 2 pr. Simms boots – 2 neoprene wader belts – 2 wading staffs – 2 Fishpond Pliers – 2 Simms Gore Tex raincoats – Simms stirrup pants (hot) – Simms layering gear and Canvass Camp hat – 5 cameras – 5 spare camera batteries – 3 lead boat anchors – 4 anchor ropes – 2 fly line winders – 2 fly line scales – 1 pr. Muck boots – 3 Simms and Fishpond bags to carry clothes in – 3 Simms bags to carry tackle in boat – 1 Sotar air mattress – 1 sleeping bag – 12 boxes of zip-lok freezer baggies – 1 lip balm – 1 sunscreen (never used, left at home) – 17 hook hones – 14 nippers – 9 nipper retractors – 1 hand lotion – 2 boxes band-aids – 26 nail clippers – Fishing license& Salmon/steelhead tag – 1 fillet knife – 1 Leatherman Multi tool – 1 pocket knife –

And there are the daily expenses too. Motels in Tillamook.  Meals.  Guide fees.  Gas.  New windshield wiper blades.  Shuttles.  Boat ramp fees.  Buckets of money at the car wash.  Extra leader spools.  Anchors and anchor lines replaced at Tillamook Sporting Goods.  347 bottles of assorted bait scent to soak my flies on overnight.  12 boxes of blue latex gloves to wear while handling flies soaked in garlic-shrimp-worm-anchovy-anise-dead cow smelly jelly.  Burgers.  Fries.  Muffins.  Chinese take-out.  Biscuits and gravy (just kidding honey).  Burritos from the trailer.  Coffee at kiosks from one end of town to the other.  Tires fixed and replaced at Les Schwab.  Towing fees (out of gas or stuck in the mud at the boat ramp).  Postcards to the family.

Point is – this one fish, the result of dozens of days on the water, was worth a lot of cash to stimulate the local, state, USA, and international economies.  If it were not for me, and nut-cases like me, the global economic crisis would have  — well – the world as we know it could well have ended in a critical melt down.

Thanks to dedicated and passionate anglers like me, though, the cash continued to flow, the credit card companies are thriving, payday loan sharks are shoveling dough into their off-shore accounts, and all is well.

I did a few calculations too. Two hundred-forty-seven thousand dollars invested to catch one hatchery spring Chinook of about 50 pounds.

I exaggerate, if only a little. Deal with it.

Thus, one can calculate that my one hatchery spring Chinook is worth $247,000 in direct investments to the global economy, generating a multiplier of 12.4x; in other words, my efforts to catch this one fish was worth $3,062,800 to the world economy.

Another way to look at it is that this fish (my fifty pounder) was worth about sixty thousand bucks per pound, in the round.

So, keep this in mind, please, when people tell you that hatchery fish are expensive.

They’re worth a lot too.


PS:  Wild fish are valuable beyond price.  Dude, I’m just trying to have a little fun.

9 thoughts on “Regarding The True Value of Hatchery Salmon – – –

  1. Well said, Jay – but you forgot (I believe) the added expense of license & tag, a tag, mind you, that also includes sturgeon & halibut, which unless you are far more intrepid than I (no doubt, really), you will not be flyfishing for in any way shape or form. Therefore it follows that your one 50 (or so) pound hatchery spring chinook is also invaluable for toxic bottomfeeders ( I’m referring to fish here)…


    1. Peter. I actually have a friend who is tempting me to try for both Halibut and Sturgeon with a fly and fly rod, and fly line, and fly reel. I think he is a little silly, but hey, who knows. A guy has to have a laugh now and then. The difference between insane and insanely funny is about, well, just a hair. JN

  2. You’re allowed all the fun you can get a hook into. But I do have one old bone to pick–a peeve of sorts…

    This from Webster’s dictionary:

    chinook salmon (noun) – not capitalized

    1. Rob. Dude. Stellar mentor and Pocket Picker during winter steelhead season after giving me first water and tying one hand behind your back and then being all like, “gosh, i don’t know why that beautiful chrome fish just decided to eat my silly old intruder after having around thirty minutes getting bored with your magnificent flies.”

      So here is the deal. You, most likely, are right. How could Webster be wrong, right? But I am like up against a few problems here. One being that I ADORE these fish and I find myself sorely tempted to capitalize CHINOOK SALMON< and KINGS, and SPRINGER, and TYEE SALMON, and UPRIVER BRIGHTS, and TULES, and WHITE FACES, and BLACKMOUTH – – -get the point? I restrain myself to only capitalize the first letter of this fish that I am obsessed with.

      Then there is the matter of the ENTIRE fisheries science and management community and such fiddling with spell checkers and editorial rules for manuscripts demanding capitalization of Chinook and I have not really felt like getting into a rope shoving contest with these loons so i just go ahead and follow my instincts. And heck sometimes i mess up and write Steelhead instead of steelhead, knowing this is wrong-headed but not bothering to go back and correct myself.

      So while we are at it, and yes i am on a rant, why in the world does it seem like I am the only person who says “the data are convincing” instead of “the data is convincing”? I am fed up to the gills hearing scientist after fancy scientist saying “data is” when “data” (the word) is plural and “datum” is singular. Sick, I tell you, sick I am of it. The lunatics should say – “the data are in, and anyone who targets spring Chinook (ha ha) on the fly is unicorn obsessed.”

      Fix this, fix it in my lifetime, and I will consider NOT capitalizing Chinook. Oops.


    1. Miguel: great to meet you at the Spey clave. Let’s consider your invitation to do a project a go, and chat about timetables and brainstorm details. It should be fun – really fun. Life is short, getting shorter, and we gotta make the most of these days. JN

  3. Jay, just because everyone’s doing it doesn’t make it right, right?

    My Dad just retired as a science edicator, and your pet peeve is also his. The data are in, and there are more important things to address than symantics and grammar 🙂

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