Why are hatchery steelhead bad?
Nicholas’ Fly Fishing Glossary – Random Questions and Answers from the Blogosphere
February 13, 2011
Still the questions stream across the Blogosphere; questions that cry out for answers. Serious questions. Odd questions. I offer these answers in the spirit of serious oddness. My answers are accurate and unbiased, based on extensive Internet research and therefore above reproach. Take this wisdom and venture forth onto the waters, fly rod in hand, relishing in your new-found knowledge of all things piscatorial. Brace yourself, more wisdom will follow in the next several days. (JN)
Q. Why are hatchery steelhead bad?
- Hatchery steelhead are not bad; they are not good; they just are. True, a hatchery steelhead may, on account of its genetic heritage or childhood environment, be, shall we say, “other abled” with respect to its ability to survive and produce successive generations of steelhead in uncontrolled environments (rivers). Any individual hatchery steelhead may come from a “questionable” family heritage, but as individuals, hatchery fish should be judged on the basis of each fish’s behavior because let’ face it folks, some hatchery fish, like little acorns, fall far from the oak tree. Indeed, some hatchery fish may behave poorly seeking approval mean-spirited fish, or may seem, sadly, bound to repeat the sins of their parents. Some hatchery fish may lack manners, having never been taught such. Some hatchery fish may “act out” as a consequence of insecurity. Some hatchery fish may become pellet abusers, perhaps in an ill-fated attempt to self medicate for biochemical imbalances or perhaps because pellets are all they can find to sustain themselves. This is the sad reality; but who among us is immune to these frailties?
Q: Why are wild steelhead good?
- Wild fish are not good, without exception and any possibility of reservation. Consider this conundrum. Some wild steelhead are born from hatchery steelhead parents. Some wild steelhead stray far from home, flaunting the sensibility of spawning in their natal river. Some wild steelhead are indeed wild, yet are established far from their native range, and have displaced native fishes from their homes without guilt or regret. Let us not condemn nor praise each steelhead merely because we call it hatchery or wild; on the accident of its birth. Rather, let us judge each steelhead as it stands (swims) before us in the here and now. Dump the abstractions. Should you or I be condemned or praised because an ancestor committed acts of great depravity or bravery? Certainly not. Look this steelhead critter in the eye. Ask, how would Jesus judge this fish? Ask if you or I could have behaved better, made more of our lives, if we had been born from the egg that hatched this fish. See, it isn’t so difficult; judge carefully, lest ye be judged. Listen to the fish. Listen to your heart. let each steelhead, be it buck or hen, live and strive (in the evolutionary sense, via natural selection) to become the best fish it can be.
Q: What is “bad” salmon?
- Like steelhead, there is no such thing as bad salmon, generally speaking. That said, any salmon abandoned to marinate in warm, diesel-infused, bacteria infested bilge water, could indeed become bad salmon by the end of the day.
Q: Why do we fish?
- Because we must. And also because we are not smart enough to play golf. Speaking of golf, now there’s a sensible outdoors adventure. One can dependably schedule a golf game by making an appointment, not worrying if the golf course will be too high too low, if there will be enough golf balls to make the game worthwhile, whether twenty golf pros will slip their golf carts into the course half an hour ahead of their Tee-time and plug up all the golf holes. Golfers can hire a caddy to carry their clubs and an umbrella. The Country club is always close by, with mixed drinks, pale yellow cardigans, and shiny new golf balls available to purchase. Golfers can put cute little knit hats on each of their golf clubs. Golfers don’t need to worry whether or not their favorite golf shoes will be outlawed. I bet no golfer ever cracked a tail-bone when they slipped on the green; crushed the tip of a thousand-buck putter in the rear window of their SUV, or returned home to an empty house because their family forgot what said golf player looked like during golf season.
Jay Nicholas, February 13, 2011