In defense of trout zoos.

They come up this time every year, along with the first purple henbit.  This time it’s Chad Shmukler at Hatch Magazine, penning an awkwardly conflicting piece regarding Missouri’s opening day of trout season:  to each their own, just don’t call it fly fishing.

Thousands of anglers parked one next to the other tangling lines in a quest for finless gray rainbows stocked a couple hours before.  It isn’t Chad’s thing.  It isn’t my thing.  But it is someone’s thing.  Like death metal or studying algae, I don’t have to appreciate it in order to understand other people do.

I’d rather be fishing some empty western stream for wild trout, too.  So would probably have the folks visiting the trout zoos.  But a lot of folks out there don’t have the luxury of deciding between BC or Alaska for this summer’s epic destination trip, especially economically stagnant regions like the Ozarks, where income per capita is around $20,000 and unemployment has hovered between 4.8% and 10+% in the past couple years.  Turns out small farmers and cattlemen don’t get two weeks paid vacation to go tromping through the west.  And while Chad may be more comfortable calling it anything other than fishing, come March 1 those folks are buying a fishing license.  Those funds will be matched with federal dollars and used for habitat enhancement and watershed protection for the state’s other sport fishing opportunities he briefly mentions.

Chad’s fly-by assessment lacks depth, dismissing a situation without investigating its underlying causes.  At a time when water quality, endangered species, and federal lands regulations are being eroded, pitting comparatively wealthy urban anglers versus poorer, rural anglers is an extraordinarily bad way to protect our shared interests.




One comment

  1. I appreciate your perspective. I am a fan of Chad’s, but I’m also not a fly fishing snob. Any attempt to get people outside within their own personal constraints should be respected.

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