CT DEEP stocked tiger trout this year for the first time in a number of seasons. Tiger trout are a hybrid between brook trout and brown trout, and though they do occur in the wild, they do not occur naturally because nowhere on the planet do native brook trout populations overlap with native brown trout populations. I've caught stream born ("wild") tiger trout in CT twice. I've seen two others caught by friends, and photos of others. But most tiger trout caught by anglers in CT are hatchery fish. DEEP stands for "Department of Energy and Environmental Protection." What is a state agency in charge of environmental protection doing placing non-native, non-natural hybrid salmonids in a large number of bodies of water? It certainly has nothing to do with protecting the environment, though thousands of fisherman haven't the slightest inkling of that and are more than happy to have fish to catch. And tiger trout are prized fish. The state stocks fewer of them, just as they stock fewer 24 inch trout than 10 inch trout, so they aren't as easy to catch as the average rainbow. But that's pretty much the only reason any hatchery trout is harder to catch than any other hatchery trout, because they're all starting from the same baseline when they leave that truck and enter the river... except that tiger trout are a hybrid and their hybrid vigor is expressed by voracious eating. I've had hatchery tigers take more than a dozen whacks at a mouse in daylight, get hooked, come unglued well into the fight, then come back and slap the fly again the very next cast. This is a problem. Not only is the state stocking an unnatural hybrid trout, they are stocking one that is a voracious and indiscriminate feeder into waters with native species, sometimes even at-risk native species. This is extremely hypocritical of an environmental protection agency. But they are payed to do what the people ask. And the people evidently want more tiger trout.
In mid fall I was fishing on local waters, catching plenty of both non-native hatchery fish and native hatchery fish (brook trout, in this case), including tigers. The tigers were impressive looking fish, and I'd hesitate to call them ugly. Plus they were fun to pull on. I couldn't help but feel there wasn't anything legitimately special about them. It didn't take any special knowledge or skill, they were there and if I put a fly past them they ate it. Really they shouldn't have been there. If I could have snapped my fingers and caught nothing but fallfish this day, I'd gladly have done so. I do understand that many anglers would be thrilled to catch these tigers and would scoff at the idea of catching fallfish instead. But that's the whole problem. And it's a huge problem.
|Male hatchery brook trout|
|Female hatchery brook trout.|