Do Hatchery Trucks Make Happy Anglers? Evaluating Entrenched Assumptions Of Put-And-Take Fisheries.
William (Bill) Frederick Patterson
Stocking trout to create successful sport fisheries is an irresistible lure to fisheries managers and sport anglers alike, but the implicit assumptions behind this simple process have seldom been questioned or assessed. Using common fisheries monitoring techniques, combined with social surveys, at nine Alberta lakes, I quantified three main assumptions behind put-andtake stocking. Surprisingly, 1) stocking high densities of Rainbow Trout created very lowdensity populations; 2) these populations supported mediocre fisheries; 3) these mediocre fisheries, if above a threshold catch rate, attracted very large numbers of satisfied anglers. Based on these findings, the stocking density and the direct cost of stocking were reduced by 80% at three experimental lakes. No major decreases in fishing quality, angler participation, or angler satisfaction were observed. I suggest refinements in the stocking process focus on determining how to provide adequate numbers of trout to create a basic level of satisfaction with the fishing experience.