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Dec-08-2008 18:36printcomments

Trout Program Produces Big Fish, Big Bucks

The $5 million cost of the trout stocking program is funded through the sale of Oregon fishing licenses and a federal excise tax on the sale of fishing tackle.

Large rainbow trout
Jack Sisco, a hatchery technician at Roaring River hatchery near Scio, holds up one of the large rainbow trout that will be released into Willamette Valley lakes and ponds in December and January as the 2008 trout stocking program comes to a close.

(CLACKAMAS, Ore.) - There is perhaps no outdoor program touched more Oregonians or generated more excitement, enthusiasm and sheer joy than the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s trout stocking program.

Every year, ODFW releases millions of rainbow trout into hundreds of Oregon ponds, lakes and streams, giving eager youngsters and adults the opportunity to catch their first fish.

In 2008 alone, the agency released nearly 6 million trout in hundreds of locations around the state.

“It’s become a real popular program,” said Hal Boldt, trout stocking coordinator for ODFW’s Northwest Region, which plants rainbow trout in 96 lakes and ponds from Bonneville Dam to the Oregon Coast and as far south as Eugene.

Everywhere Boldt and ODFW drivers go, they receive a hero’s welcome when they back their tankers filled with rainbow trout down to the water’s edge and open the gate valve.

Most of the fish are 8-inch “legals,” which are released in lots of 300 to 12,000 fish. A few larger rainbows, including 1-pound “jumbos” and 3-pound “trophies” are also released throughout the trout stocking season, which ramps up in early March and continues through September.

But it is during the months of December and January that trout anglers get their biggest treats. That’s when Roaring River hatchery near Scio, ODFW’s primary trout propagation facility, releases its brood stock into selected lakes and ponds.

The brood stock is comprised of 3- and 4-year-old trout used to produce the eggs necessary to sustain the hatchery program. Although trout can continue to produce eggs for many years, at age four they reach what hatchery managers consider the point of diminishing returns. So they are removed from the hatchery system and taken to local fishing holes to make room for the next generation of brood stock.

This year brood stock weighing between 8 and 15 pounds are being released at five locations across the Willamette Valley – Junction City Pond near Eugene, Walter Wirth Lake and Walling Pond near Salem, Sheridan Pond in Sheridan, and West Salish Pond in Fairview.

Some fish were released on Dec. 8 and more are scheduled for the weeks of Dec. 22nd, Jan. 5th, Jan. 12th, and Jan 26th, although these dates are subject to change based on staffing, weather and other factors.

“These are big, beautiful fish,” said Tim Schamber, manager of the Roaring River hatchery.

The $5 million cost of the trout stocking program is funded through the sale of Oregon fishing licenses and a federal excise tax on the sale of fishing tackle. Trout fishing generates expenditures of more than $150 million in Oregon, according to figures from the 2006 national Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation.

The ODFW trout hatchery program generates the vast majority of catchable trout in Oregon.

Source: Oregon Department of Agriculture

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.

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