Idaho Anglers Debate Effort to Remove Rainbow Trout


Mar 11, 2001
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Anglers Debate Effort to Remove Rainbow Trout
Tuesday, July 31, 2001


   POCATELLO, Idaho -- When Clare Stucki thinks of cutthroat trout, he immediately thinks of Charles Darwin and the scientist's theory of natural selection.

   "The very reason the lovely cutthroat is all but extinct is because in a world which functions according to the law of survival of the fittest, they are the least fit," Stucki says. "Cutthroats are simply too stupid and too fragile to support a public fishery."

   Stucki, who used to fish the upper Blackfoot River in his youth, now fly-fishes and spin fishes for wily brown trout in western Wyoming and southwestern Montana. Idaho's fisheries managers, he says, appear stuck on the "preserving our heritage" theme and the quality of the fishing suffers because of it.

   He thinks recent efforts by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to remove rainbow trout from the upper reaches of the Blackfoot River are a waste of department resources and sportsmen's money.

   "Sure, everybody would like to live in a world where all the water is clear as gin, where a fisherman could have miles of river all to himself as he casts to wild, native trout," the 70-year-old Stucki says. "But that world disappeared 60 years ago and now we in Idaho need to join the real world."

   But one local fly-fisherman disagrees with Stucki's assessment.

   "Getting rid of the rainbows is a good idea," says John Taylor, a member of Southeast Idaho Fly Fishers, a Pocatello-based fly-fishing club. "There's lots of rainbow trout fishing around here. There aren't many places where you can catch native cutthroats. The upper Blackfoot is one of those places."

   Cutthroat trout and rainbow trout can interbreed, and the resulting offspring ends up as a fertile hybrid.

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