Steelhead killed after artificial ferilization [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Steelhead killed after artificial ferilization

06-07-2007, 01:38 PM
I'm from the Great Lakes region and heard something today from a reliable PNW source that I found troubling. He told me that steelhead coming up the rivers to spawn were trapped in ponds and then taken to an egg fertilization center (hatchery) where eggs and milt were removed and combined. I'd assumed that the fish would be then released but asked him anyway. To my surprise he told me the fish are then killed.
I would have thought that such a practice would have been exposed by now and steelhead anglers would be active in putting a stop to killing these fish. Maybe there's more here that I just don't understand but my PNW source wasn't happy about this practice either.
Is there good reason for this killing, or what factors are at play here causing this practice to persist?

06-07-2007, 03:01 PM
As far as I know, killing steelhead after the eggs and milt are extracted at the hatcheries is standard practice here in the the PNW. In Washington, the dead steelhead are usually given to a local Indian tribe.

06-07-2007, 03:19 PM
That sucks! Hatcheries suck all around.

Nooksack Mac
06-07-2007, 03:24 PM
It's my understanding that this is done only with returning hatchery fish (which to state-run or tribal hatchery employees are merely mobile repositories of eggs or milt). I think there'd be a mighty enraged roar if native steelhead were being so ill-used.

06-07-2007, 04:12 PM
It's my understanding that this is done only with returning hatchery fish (which to state-run or tribal hatchery employees are merely mobile repositories of eggs or milt). I think there'd be a mighty enraged roar if native steelhead were being so ill-used.

But how would anyone know if the native steelies were being ill used??

06-07-2007, 05:10 PM
Hatchery fish have clipped fins and for the most part different return cycles. They are not using native fish in the hatchery programs.

They did miuse some native fish about 100 years ago...trying to remember...thats right! They took their eggs put them in the great lakes...


06-08-2007, 12:45 AM
Few would condone a steelhead's dying before its time, but, bear in mind, even though they are capable, it's the rare steelhead that spawns a second, much less a third time. Repeat- spawning summer-runs in the Columbia system above Bonneville are extemely rare. Winter runs along the coast have a much higher proportion of repeat spawners, but it still ain't all that high.

I would guess the rub is guarding against potential to the gene pool dilution by killing all sperm and egg doners. But, once the hatchery has its fertilized eggs, the next generation and the genotype is all but assured. Easy to argue both ways.

The points about hatchery returns are well taken. I think, on this board at least, wild-spawned and stream-reared fish are superior in all ways to artificially nutured fish. Nevertheless, the hatchery programs for steelhead will be in a long, gradual fade out (if they do, indeed, ever fade out). The state departments of game fisheries are caught in the eternal bind of economics: if you want license revenue, there have to be fish to fish for. Habitat degradation has not been reversed to the point where wild fish supply the satisfaction to the angling public that supplemental hatchery fish do. And, again, therein lies the rub. The Devil says give me license money and maybe I'll fund spawning bed improvement projects and boost wild fish numbers in the Necanicum. Meanwhile, Fly Fisherman X says "if I don't get a few pulls on the line from time to time, I won't buy a license" and therefore no stream improvement projects get done due to a temporary lack of willing fish.

Good grief, everyone reading this far is familiar with the calculus, however simplified and dumb-downed I've made the argument.

We are many. Not just fly fishers, but fisheries managers, roe slingers, drift fishers, back trollers and spinner enthusiasts. We all have a common stake, but it's hard to get us to speak with one voice. We all see different truths.

Analysis, evaluation, assessment on a stream by stream, race by race basis are needed here. Some sort of meeting of the minds between the fisheries folk and the sports fishers would also be helpful.

I feel this post is not.

Cheers anyway,


Todd Ripley
06-15-2007, 01:47 PM
They're hatchery fish, and should be killed rather than released on the possibility that they could return at a later date and spawn in the river.

They're not wild fish, which are not spawned in hatcheries, but spawn in rivers instead.

No problems here...doing the wild fish a favor, actually.

Fish on...


06-17-2007, 01:25 AM
Wild adult steelhead are increasingly used in Oregon to seed hatchery operations. This transition to so-called "broodstock" hatchery programs is being sold as the latest saviour for fish and fishermen alike, but not without some serious problems, to say the least! Another thread unto itself...

in any case, Oregon policy is to live-spawn wild adult fish and return them to the river