Saturday, October 22, 2016

Why Do We Have Trout Hatcheries?

We visited the Pisgah Wildlife Center and Fish Hatchery to learn more about why they raise different varieties of trout.  It was very interesting and the kids had a great time learning about the workings of the hatchery, the environment that trout like, and the importance of hatchery fish for the local streams.

Ranger Daniel was very enthusiastic, as he told the students about the habitat trout like to occupy.  He explained the difference in native trout and hatchery trout to the kids.  We learned that Rainbow trout are not native to our mountain streams.  They were brought to eastern streams from the western U.S.  He also told us that the Brown Trout are natives.  They are actually from Europe!  He asked the students to try and figure out how they got here.  It was a wonderful brainstorming session.  The Brown Trout or German Trout as natives in Appalachia like to call them came here over 150 years ago.  No one is exactly sure how they were brought into the country.  Brook Trout are native to our mountain waters.

Ranger Daniel took the group on an exploration hike to a few stream locations and had the students identify habitat requirements of the trout.  He explained how tree cover, erosion, and pollution all effect the trout population.  The kids had fun looking for trout in the water.

Next, he showed the students the raceways where the maturing trout are kept.  He discussed with the students how the raceways were not well thought out when made in the 1930s.  They were placed in direct sunlight and not protected.  Hopefully, one day there will be funds to help redesign the raceways.  He had the students identify the different trout and gave them pointers on how to remember each type.

Back in the classroom, he explained the process of raising trout in the hatchery.  He gave the students a brief lesson in genetic diversity and its importance.  We learned that all the hatchery trout are sterile, except for the breeding stock.  Ranger Daniel passed around vials for the students to see the different stages of development from eggs to fry in the trout.

The hatchery raises trout in order to protect native populations of trout in the streams.  The mountain streams are maintained and regulated in order to ensure success in native trout populations.  In highly populated trout fishing areas, hatchery trout are constantly being stocked to allow fishing.  Harvesting these fish is encouraged and a wide variety of tackle can be used.  In remote areas, stocking of hatchery trout is less and stricter regulations are enforced for harvesting trout.  Tackle is more specific and harvesting numbers are limited.  This was very interesting information.

We love attending Pisgah programs!