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Old 10-23-2018, 06:30 AM
BunsbertMontcroffEsq's Avatar
BunsbertMontcroffEsq BunsbertMontcroffEsq is offline
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Location: Uptown Phoenix
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AZ Game and Fish Study: The Fate of Stocked Trout - A Four Year Study

Thought there were some interesting insights from this study concluded by AZG&F and posted to their website:

1. Most trout don’t survive past one week of being stocked

Soon after they’re stocked, the fish are being caught. Anglers: It seems you’re doing a great job of fishing AZ.

First, some facts during the duration of the study:

Biologists implanted 492 trout with radio transmitters (246 rainbow trout and 246 Apache trout).
Many of the trout — 60 percent — are no longer alive after one week in the streams.
It was several weeks before the percent of trout remaining from a single stocking was below 20 percent.
This is why most streams on our stocking schedules call for waters to be stocked every 1-2 weeks, keeping trout in these “intensive use” systems to maintain opportunity.

Yet there are rare exceptions. In one stream, 71 percent of radio tagged trout remained alive after one week. Surprising?

Get this: The longest surviving trout was a pair of Apache trout (Fish Nos. 1C and 38C) that were still alive 123 days after they were stocked when we detected them on Dec. 4, 2015 in the East Fork of the Black River. Who’s up for the challenge of catching these hard-nosed Apaches?

Anglers were not the only ones eating stocked trout. Birds and mammals, such as ospreys, great blue herons, and raccoons, consumed between 6 to 30 percent of radio tagged trout.

2. Trout don’t move far from release locations

A stocked rainbow trout, it seems, is not exactly a wandering Nemo.

Radio-tagged trout did not move far from release locations — typically less than 200 yards. In fact, many of the fish we stocked were caught from the pools in which they were stocked. More good news for anglers, because, of course, you don’t have to move far to find fish.

Here’s a tip of the day: We found that many fish tend to wander slightly away from deeper pools of an exact stocking location and seek refuge in oddball places like undercut banks, boulders, or overhanging structures. This was often only about 15 yards or less from a stocking point. So naturally, anglers also should consider targeting these structures once a stocking day has passed.

“There could be several possible explanations for this behavior,” said AZGFD Sport Fish Research Biologist Zach Beard regarding the trout’s lack of movement.

“It may just be a natural trout behavior. Several studies have documented that wild stream trout often spend the majority of their lives in a relatively small portion of the stream. It could also be a remnant of the hatchery conditions trout are raised in. Trout stocked in Arizona streams spend their entire time in a relatively short raceway of a hatchery, which doesn’t allow them to move more than a few hundred feet. As such, they may grow accustomed to remaining in a relatively small area.”

Even some of our longest surviving fish did not move very far from where they were stocked. Fish “1C”’s longest recorded journey was 49 meters downstream. Fish 38C wandered about 150 meters downstream and 186 meters upstream. Both Apache trout, featured earlier in the No. 5 “thing we learned”, had survived 123 days at the time of our last survey before the winter of 2015. The batteries in our radio tags typically die after 200 days, and so these fish could no longer be tracked. Yet they could still be alive.

And then there’s the exception (one of 492 radio-tagged trout). During a nine-day trek in 2015, Fish No. 41, a rainbow trout, propelled itself 12.3 kilometers downstream on the East Verde River before finding a home. Yet it was caught and harvested a couple weeks later.

This, for better or worse, is a snapshot of a stocker trout’s life.

3. Anglers spend tons of time fishing for stocked trout!

If fishing a high country stream in Arizona is a therapeutic experience, and we believe it is, then anglers who fished during these surveys should have an advantage in the mental health department. Anglers have spent thousands of hours casting lines and catching fish on these scenic stretches of stream.

Depending on the stream, anglers each year spent around 3,600-13,800 hours fishing and caught around 1,900-14,300 trout.

In general, anglers kept a large proportion of the stocked rainbow and Apache trout.

Return-to-creel rates are estimates of the percent of fish stocked that were ultimately caught and kept by fisherman. These rates are used by managers to measure how good a fishery is performing. In most of our stocked trout streams, our goal is for as many trout as possible to be harvested by anglers.

Our state’s return-to-creel rates are similar to those from other streams all around the country. We estimate that usually greater than 25 percent our fish stocked were harvested by anglers. Nationwide, most stream fisheries stocked with trout generally have return-to-creel rates of between 30 and 40 percent.

Canyon Creek had the best return-to-creel rate at 66 percent in 2014 — higher than most return-to-creel studies documented in the entire nation.

4. Current stocking amounts satisfy anglers

Do extreme amounts of stocked fish equal anglers catching bag limits? Well, stocking amounts are perhaps not as important as some have thought.

For example, during the study, we varied the amount of trout stocked in a stream. Some streams received a big increase and some were cut in half. Our analysis showed the probability of catching a trout only increased by 3 percent (from 50 to 53) even when stocking numbers went up substantially. This takes into account all the other factors that go into catching a fish.

We of course want to maximize angler satisfaction. Our current stocking numbers seem to keep catch rates satisfactory. Increasing the number of trout stocked may not increase catch rates in these streams. Our hatcheries are at maximum capacity for producing fish (in 2013 we were 100,000 pounds short of the amounts of stocked fish our managers requested). And so studies like these are important in helping us spread stockings throughout the state in the most efficient ways possible.

Fortunately, the majority of anglers were typically happy with memories made on our mountain streams.

Results from our study also indicated:

Factors such as an angler’s catch rate, age, and the tackle they used (bait, flies, or lures) influenced an angler’s satisfaction with their fishing experience.
In general, anglers 50 years of age and older were less satisfied with their fishing experience at lower catch rates than younger anglers.
Additionally, anglers who used multiple gears types on the same trip (bait, flies, and lures) were less satisfied with their fishing experience compared to anglers using a single tackle type.

5. Fish within a few days of a stocking

Maybe you’ve heard it over and over: Fish right after a stocking. Well, this study showed that’s a prime strategy.

We conducted analyses to look at how an angler’s catch rate would be affected by several factors:

The number of trout stocked.
The number of days since the last stocking event.
Other characteristics of our anglers such as tackle type.
From this analysis, we found that factors such as the number of days since the last stocking event and preferred gear type did influence angler catch rates.

For one, the probability that an angler catches at least one trout decreases significantly as the number of days since the last stocking increases. This means that your best chance to catch a trout is during the first few days after stocking. Not to say fish aren’t still in the stream — they just might be a bit harder to catch.

So this, then, is a big takeaway for anglers from these 5 things we learned? If you want to catch more stocked trout, focus your efforts fishing near a stocking location in the days shortly following a stocking event. After that, don’t be afraid to fish spots along the stream margins like undercut banks, and under overhanging vegetation or boulders. These are the places that fish go to as they distribute in the stream and become more selective.
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Old 10-27-2018, 04:08 PM
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almostlost almostlost is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 558
Interesting data.
They could just open up the hatchery raceways for fishing and leave the streams to the wild things.
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Old 10-27-2018, 09:32 PM
wolleybug wolleybug is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Gilbert AZ
Posts: 459
I read that study and have found otherwise
Those trout spread out miles from where they were stocked. I fish every mile from blue point down to granite reef and have landed them everywhere in between.
The last trout I caught was in September while the tubers were coming doen the river where i had to wait till a flotilla of drunkards passed by so i can cast. They hold over in certain area's all year and move around as required.
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Old 10-28-2018, 09:49 PM
M Lopez M Lopez is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Pinetop, Arizona
Posts: 160
The Salt River was not one of the study streams, so not surprising that you might find something different in a large river many times the size of the trout streams in this study. And yes, there are a few individuals (stocked trout) that move long distances after being stocked and is acknowledged in the study report, but the vast vast majority of stream stocked trout move very little. Does this mean that talented flyfishers should sit and fish in the same stocking pool with all the bait dunkers and won't catch any fish if they don't? Of course not. But it provides some good information for the average and under-average anglers on how to catch stream stocked trout. And it provides managers with a lot of very valuable data to help them make management decisions on stocking streams. Great study, thanks.
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Old 10-29-2018, 06:20 AM
Wind_Knot Wind_Knot is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 24
Originally Posted by almostlost View Post
Interesting data.
They could just open up the hatchery raceways for fishing and leave the streams to the wild things.
......or maybe construct a few more ‘Silver Creeks’ 🤠
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