Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Invasive species..

Somewhere around 13,000 years ago man made his first appearance in North America, and has been screwing it up ever since. Todays post is a retort to a comment left on "windknots and Tangled lines" regarding a very large ( 32" 10 pound ) German brown trout that was senslesly destroyed in 2007 in the Madison river of Montana for just its skin ( meat from real skin mounts is almost never saved and eaten ) to be stretched over a piece of plastic for bragging rights. Most shocking of all was the statements made that the German brown is an invasive species so it basicly had it coming, I guess in hopes of making Montanas crown Jewel fishery better.. lets talk about what the German brown has done for Montana. On February 24th 1883 the first eggs of a German brown made first landfall on the shores of North America. Many purist were quite concerned with the dangers of this voracious carnivor trout, it would possibly decimate the native trouts of the rivers it would be planted in. In 1872 Yellowstone Park was created, at the time 40% of the parks waters were barren of fish, only 17 of 150 lakes contained populations of fish, while some were sterile by nature, many had been decimated by man. In 1913 Theodore Gordon a pioneer of North American fly fishing stated in Forest and stream magazine " many of us remember how poor our sport was before the German brown came in" The German brown trout is now one the most prevelent species of trout in the Madison river, one of its running partners the Rainbow trout is also an invasive species, but it seems whirling disease has been making short work of them. The cutthroat trout is the only native trout to this region, Rainbows prior to the McCloud strain transplants only existed in bodies of water in which Native Steelhead runs existed. The native Brook trout of the eastern portion of North America were virtualy destroyed by logging, dams, commercial harvest and a great deal in part by civil war soldiers who slaughtered them for food by the hundreds daily. In 1879 it was estimated that the fishers of that time would be the last Brook trout fishermen... German browns were introduced and thrived in the higher water temps that the Brookies were doing very poorly in. You cannot undo most of what man has done, Bass, Perch, Carp, and so many others are invasive species in most of the waters they inhabit, and they are here to stay. Same with German browns, Rainbows, and Brook trout, cuttbows, hatchery salmon and steelhead and humans, we are all parts of an enviromental disaster that started 13,000 years ago.. and continues to this day. Next time you see a photo of a human being standing in a Montana river holding a ten pound German brown or Rainbow, try to see if you can spot the most dangerous invasive species- If you can't be with the one you love...... love the one your with-


  1. Wow, you are the River keeper! You know, I thought about the comments on my post and on your post. It started to make a lot of sense to me what you're talking about. The white man in North America is an invasive species as well. Who actually would you eradicate...who does more harm?

  2. I wanted very badly to comment abbrasively, but didn't want to disrespect your blog... food is food, and death is death, keeping fish is no big deal, but every beating heart has value.. even on invasive species, im not gods Thresher... live and let live, or eat it.. very simple if you ask me, eat it or wear it or give it away.. but don't throw it away, thanks for stopping by Howard-

  3. Fish Tales,
    This is my first visit to your blog. I saw the title of this post over in the sidebar of Howard's blog and it caught my attention... seeing as how I'm interested in most things ecological.
    How much more interesting it became when upon my arrival I found what amounts to a scathing response to a comment I posted.
    Let me start by apologizing for anything I wrote that rubbed you the wrong way... so much that you felt the desire to "comment abrasively." I am sincerely sorry if you misunderstood my statement, but I will try to clarify for you.
    First, I never used the term "invasive." I don't consider Brown Trout to be invasive. The term I used was "introduced." There is a pretty distinct difference in an ecological context. I am aware, just as you are, of the history of trouts in America, and I agree that the introduction of Brown Trout greatly improved the fisheries in many parts of our country. In the state of Arkansas, in rivers that I consider home waters, Brown Trout were stocked where trout had never lived before and quickly grew to World Record sizes- both the White and Little Red are both responsible for former record Brown Trout. In this area, native bass fisheries (thanks to thermally altered tailwater releases) became world class trout fisheries. It really made the best of what could have been an altogether bad situation. I also know there is a whole economy built around those fish that would have never been generated by the native riverine bass.
    Second, I am thoroughly aware that man is the most destructive animal on this planet. I know how we have pretty much changed everything, every little inch of this Earth, in some way. I know that many of the game fish we pursue in the waters of this planet didn't arrive there on their own. My statement merely suggested a different perspective... that perhaps we shouldn't get so upset about an angler taking home a "lifetime fish" when we're discussing non-native (and very often well managed) species. I admittedly know very little about the Madison, but in the rivers of AR and TN (where I live) the Brown Trout are very well managed to produce trophy fish.
    Third, I know there are many native species such as the river basses of the Southeast (like the Redeyes I mentioned or Shoal Bass that Owl Jones suggested) that are not well managed at this point in history. Can they survive man? Maybe, but I for one want to leave the endemic natives where they are still found, because we have so little of that originality left. Additionally, these native species that don't grow to enormous trophy sizes (such as Gila Trout) have no hope of being transplanted around the world for human enjoyment. All they have is their native streams, and I personally want to see and enjoy as much biodiversity as this planet still has to offer... so I'll leave them where they are.
    Again, I sincerely apologize for any misunderstanding. I wasn't trying to disparage catch and release practices or any aspect of recreational fishing in which I myself participate- including the economy built around introduced species.
    I enjoy Brown Trout just like you do, but I would love to have known what so many of those fisheries were like before we had to bring in a replacement to repair them... and I imagine you would too.

  4. Jay thank you for stopping by, I greatly appreciate your point of view, and agree with just about everything you have said, its the mind set that so many folks have for intoduced species when they for the most part do not even understand the situations that brought the fish to the locations. This wasn't meant to be scathing, I intended it to possibly be educational or at least cause someone to entertain the thought that these fish have enormous value now in the enviroments they now inhabit. I appreciate your comment on Howards blog, it inspired me and now we have both gone further into the subject and that is what exites me about writing in the first place- Good fishin.

  5. Good discussion on the part of both of you. Thanks, because this was also an educational experience for me and I'm sure quite a few readers.

  6. Yeah, the continuing damage to Northeast native Brook Trout fisheries has everything to do with humans and nothing to do with introduced fish. One of my favorite Brook Trout streams is rapidly becoming a wild Brown Trout fishery. It's not because the Brown Trout are there but because the water quality has declined so much that warmer water and multiple oil spills and other such assaults have created a vacuum where the Brown Trout could move in. I'm disappointed that the Brookies are going but at least I've got something to cast my fly to in absence of the native fish.