What's Wild

by Laurel Garlicki, Northcentral ARPS
photos-Art Michaels


As you know, the Commission stocks fish across the state to provide a variety of fishing opportunities. These fish are grown in our hatcheries. Then we stock them so you can catch them. We stock nearly 5,000 stream miles with trout that you can catch and keep. We call these trout "catchable" because they are at least 7 inches long. That's the minimum size for trout. But there are parts of some trout streams that we don't stock. These waters are still great places to fish.

Why don't we stock them with catchable trout? Because they have lots of wild trout in them. There are so many wild trout that we don't need to stock them. But what are "wild trout"? Wild trout are fish that are not stocked. These fish are born and grow up in the wild, not in a hatchery.

Each year, Commission biologists survey many streams. They look at a part of the stream called a section. They count, weigh and measure the trout collected in that section. They know that little ones (less than 6 or 7 inches) were born there. These trout are wild, because all the hatchery fish are 7 inches or bigger. They also know that the bigger ones collected grew up in that stream. If there are enough wild trout (of all sizes) in that part of the stream, we don't stock fish there. Fish and Boat Commission biologists call these sections of streams "wild trout waters." There are almost 1,500 stream miles of wild trout water. These waters have great habitat for trout. More than half of these miles have lots of wild brook trout.

The Fish and Boat Commission works hard to protect these fish. These streams have shorter seasons when fish can be kept. Many have larger minimum sizes. The "best of the best" even have smaller creel limits.

We also work hard to protect these special waters from human activity. Activities like logging, mining and development could damage important habitat. Without habitat, we wouldn't have wild trout.

  Catch-and-Release Tips
Angler releasing fish

  • Reel the fish in as quickly as possible.
  • Try not to touch the fish.
  • Use barbless hooks and remove them from the fish's mouth as quickly and carefully as possible. Pliers can help you get the job done faster.
  • Keep the fish in the water as much as possible.
  • If the fish is hooked so deeply that you cannot see the hook, cut the line near the fish's mouth and return it to the water.
  • If the fish is bleeding and of legal size, keep it for dinner.
  • If you want something to remember your catch by, have someone take a picture of you and the fish.

.pdf file of this article

PLAY Winter 2000

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