Stocking fish has been a regular practice since Fred Mather obtained German brown trout eggs in 1883. After a few years of growth in New York and in Michigan hatcheries some 4900 brown trout fry were stocked into the Baldwin River which is part of Michigan’s Pere Marquette River system. They were a huge hit and were so well received by the angling community that by 1900, 38 states received stockings of these fish. These days, catching a brown trout in a stream, river, or lake is as common as sunburn.
Stocking fish (and game for that matter) has been a regular practice for so long that it is one that we, sportsmen and women, accept as standard operating procedures. But I can only imagine what kinds of discussions were held around the cracker barrels when new fish were first introduced to a region.
I bet a lot of anglers were pretty excited about new species to catch. There would be new techniques, new gear, and a new approach. We, fishermen, always enjoy a challenge, and learning more about a new fish to catch is of the highest order. Why travel to far away places when we can catch these exotics at home?
On the other hand, I bet a lot of anglers were downright peeved. They’d probably boycott non-native species being introduced to local waters. They’d worry that the new arrivals would displace the native species, and they wouldn’t want any cross breeding that would create a sterile hybrids. A Tiger Trout is an unusual looking fish and it’s odd to see a colorful pheasant in an area where you’d expect to find bobwhite quail.
So what do you all think? Is there a time and a place for stockings? Should they only be of fish that were once native to the water? Or is it ok to create a new fishery where one did not previously exist?