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Is there a difference between Wild trout and Native trout? If so what is the difference

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  • Is there a difference between Wild trout and Native trout? If so what is the difference

    Is there a difference between Wild trout and Native trout? If so what is the difference

  • #2
    A wild trout is one that is spawned in the wild. However, it may actually be a species that is not native to the area (e.g. brown trout which comes from Asia). Native trout is a species that is historically from the watershed where it is caught. However, it may not be "wild." If it is reared in a hatchery then released it is NOT wild and is considered "hatchery fish." Hatchery fish are inherently weaker than wild fish because natural selection is removed from the process of rearing them (i.e. all predators and diseases are removed from the hatchery environment).

    Thank you for asking this very instructive question. I am pleased to have had the opportunity to answer it. (Can you tell I was formerly a US National Park Service ranger?)

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    • #3
      +1 for OH! Usually natives will have a better color than a stocked trout. Go on Google and look at pictures of stocked trout compared to natives. Also, I've noticed that natives may fight a little bit harder when you actually hook one. Natives are usually a little bit more rare especially in rivers that are fished to death, especially a lot of rivers here in North GA.... But, if you find a part of a river that is tough to get to and way out of the way you have a good chance of catching a native or two.

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      • #4
        Here in WV we have native brook trout in some high mountain streams. We have a few wild rainbow trout that have spawned in the wild and have trived in a very few places. I know of only 2 places in my county(476 square miles) that the rainbows spawn. Our native brook trout streams are small streams and can be fished out. I used to work the native brook trout streams heavy for violations. People don't understand how long it takes for the native brook trout to grow and how tough it for them to spawn in the ever changing mountain streams that we have.

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        • #5
          OH is right.
          Here in PA I hear people confuse the two all the time. Brook trout are native here but some people think that every 5" brookie they catch is a native when actually they're just wild(products of stocked trout). True natives here are very few and far between and only a handful of streams still have native populations.
          All of the water near me has stocked and/or wild trout. I have spent a long time fishing up the head waters and tribs of streams to find good wild trout fishing.

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          • #6
            I also live in PA and there is a pond on my road that is spring fed with crystal clear water and no garbage or anything anywhere. That's where i usaully fish for the natives but i handle them very carefully and i noticed that some of them have different coloration. Look at my pictures and im pretty sure that one is native

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            • #7
              Some hatchery rainbows and cutthroat trout are fairly pale looking (some special hatchery rainbows are darn near albinos), but I have difficulty differentiating appearances of hatchery and wild specimens of most other species, especially browns and brookies. The only surefire way to tell if a fish is hatchery raised is to look for a clipped fin ... if the agency/person planting them actually does that. As often as not the fin clipped is the adipose, the non-functional little one on the back near tail. Sometimes one pectoral fin is clipped (though I don't approve because it definitely affects the fish's mobility). I cannot tell if your "wild" one in the photo has adipose clipped. It does not appear that the "stockie" in the other photo was clipped but I'm guessing the waters where you took it are well advertised as "put and take" (no spawning and everything supplied annually from hatchery)? Brook trout require moving water for spawning beds. Is the spring that feeds your "native" trout pond significant and permanent enough to sustain spawning? If not, the fish would by necessity have to be stocked. An interesting fact that I did not know about brookies is that they are a relatively short-lived species, seldom living past 4 years. We have brookies (call them speckled trout up here) in the Nipigon river system not far from where I live that attain weights up to nine pounds (six pounds not being terribly unusual). Pretty incredible to think they can grow so fast, especially in these harsh conditions. By the way, the classic muddler minnow pattern was developed for fishing brook trout on the Nipigon River.

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              • #8
                I am wondering if your state authorities have considered planting "splake" - brookie/lake trout hybrids? They are sterile (much like a mule = horse/mule hybrid) so no danger of them contaminating the wild population with crappy hatchery genetics. Splake seem to be fairly hardy and I believe they attain larger sizes than regular brookies. A bit fussy to produce in the hatchery I'm told so maybe that would be a deterrent for PA authorities whom I'm hearing have become notoriously stingy with funding). Also, this past summer I was introduced to tiger trout in Northern Manitoba (see my profile photos). These are brown/brook trout hybrids. Very unusual combination in that browns are true trout while brookies (like lake trout) are actually a char. Tiger trout are also sterile and they can grow to very large fish. Many were being caught in the lake I fished last summer in the 25-27" range! They also didn't seem to be as hard to catch as typical finicky brown trout.

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                • #9
                  that should read ... sterile mule = horse/burro hybrid. Sorry.

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                  • #10
                    yeah actually its a creek running into it than out of it, if you know what i mean it's not a spring. The creek runs through like
                    |---|
                    --------|---|--------- the creek is the straight line and the box thing is the "pond" I know for a fact it is definitely not stocked i live in a private development and the PA fish and boat don't stock there

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                    • #11
                      the box thing box thing didnt come out good but i think you know what i mean.

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                      • #12
                        WTG OH. nice well writen answer. 100% + 1 on this

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                        • #13
                          dimaggsa- There are only a handful of streams in PA that still have native populations most of them being in the north/northeastern part of the state. There are thousands of creeks, and streams that do not get stocked that have "wild" trout. Fish were put all over the place in the early 1900s. I know of many backwoods streams and creeks miles from any stocking truck stream that have good populations of brookies. Not saying that you are wrong but chances are very very good that those trout were put there at some point and are not "native". The PA fish and boat commission has a list of streams that contain true natives and you can count them on both hands.

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                          • #14
                            themadflyfisher,
                            You are right, we have a few streams that 50 years ago we carried buckets of small brook trout back into the mountains and stocked. We would stop and change the water on them every so often. Now when someone catches one of these brook trout they say they caught a native when they caught one of their offspring of those trout because brooktrout did spawn in the streams that we stocked that is why we put them there. I call these fish wild trout and not native trout. You can see a difference in their appearence from a wild brook trout. If you are familiar with native brook trout you know what I mean they have a distinct appearence and I think a native brook trout is one of the prettier fish that we have.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Brook trout are by far the most beautiful in my opinion. Especially when young.

                              Comment

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