The Stream Doctor

June 7th, 2004

Email YOUR Questions directly to the Stream Doctor. This is your opportunity to get an experts professional opinion on anything stream related.

Q. My question is twofold. I live in Connecticut and the local stream I fish (the Salmon River) has been undergoing Atlantic Salmon restoration for quite awhile with limited success. I've had a number of theories about why this is, and one of the first is that they stock the salmon as parr, rather than eggs, thereby reducing the "Survival of the Fittest" attribute and/or imprinting of the rivers smell. Would that be an accurate statement? Also, this stream is heavily fished and therefore heavily stocked (browns, brookies, and rainbows) and I have seen trout parr so I know the river is of good quality. But I can't help but wonder if they should remove the browns and rainbows while replenishing the brookies with native strains to try to get the ecosystem somewhat closer to what the salmon need. Do you believe this could be another piece to the puzzle?

A. Not being familiar with the fisheries management program in Connecticut, I'm not going to be able to give you very satisfactory answers to your questions; you need to talk to the local biologists who are familiar with the fisheries present and the thinking behind the stocking policies. I will, however, take a shot at some of your points. You'd be surprised how much fisheries work is done with little or attention paid to the ecological characteristics of the stream.

First, stocking as parr vastly improves the survival rate; stocking of eggs is rare, costly, and not always very efficient, especially on a large scale. I don't think it has much to do with "survival of the fittest." In fact, this attribute applies to the parr just as much as it would to the eggs. The importance of imprinting the river's "smell" would only be important if they were expecting these fish to migrate and return to spawn; your later statements make me wonder if these fish are put in only for "put-and-take" fishing, thus making imprinting of little importance. Again, not being familiar with what the biologists are trying to do makes my comments just guesses.

Your comments about ecosystem restoration raises a ton of questions, but again, without knowing details makes it difficult for me to comment. I can't understand why an Atlantic salmon restoration project is being done in a stream heavily stocked with three trout species. So, rather than wildly speculating as to what might best be done, I think I better just not say anything. Sorry.

If you have a question, please feel free to contact me.
~ C. E. (Bert) Cushing, aka Streamdoctor
105 W. Cherokee Dr.
Estes Park, CO 80517
Phone: 970-577-1584

The 'Stream Doctor' is a retired professional stream ecologist and author, now living in the West and spending way too much time fly-fishing. You are invited to submit questions relating to anything stream related directly to him for use in this Q & A Feature at

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