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Wild Versus Hatchery Debate On The McKenzie River

Differences of opinion are playing out between McKenzie River anglers, fishing guides and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife regarding the wild versus hatchery debate. KLCC's Angela Kellner reports.

The McKenzie River's native "redside" rainbow trout is a prized catch for anglers, even though the fish has to be thrown back in.

The wild trout are generally bigger and more challenging to hook. The fish raised in a hatchery are easier to catch and can be kept and eaten.

The state says it's well known that when hatchery fish are added to a waterway, there is a decrease in the wild population, due to competition and increased fishing.

Some guides and anglers aren't happy with the state's hatchery levels.

Jeff Ziller with the ODFW says they are reducing hatchery stocking in the upper McKenzie by 15% and turning another 5-mile stretch into wild fish management.

Jeff Ziller "From our standpoint, we don't believe the McKenzie River rainbow trout with the number of miles of stream that we have protected are in any kind of immediate danger of extirpation. The population is fairly strong. It's just that there may not be as many wild fish out there as people would like to see."

Ziller says the state is compiling data from last year's survey of McKenzie River anglers and using a 2006 statewide survey to better understand fishing preferences.

What they need next, Ziller says, is a survey of the people who aren't fishing the McKenzie, but would like to.