Key Questions

Will wild trout populations recover if hatchery trout are removed?

Study proponents felt that a wild trout recovery would occur; but with a lack of similar case studies in the Pacific Northwest, no one knew for sure.

If the wild trout population recovers, what does this recovery look like?

Would only wild rainbow trout populations recover?  Only wild cutthroat trout?  All wild trout?  And to what degree? Would the average size of wild trout increase, decrease, or stay the same?  Would there be effects on other wild fish species in this section?  How quickly would a wild trout recovery happen?

Are there other factors which will curtail or prohibit wild trout recovery?

In the wake of ODFW’s 2010 decision to eliminate stocking, a litany of hypotheses were given as to why a recovery wouldn’t, or couldn’t happen in this section of the McKenzie.  These reasons included poor water quality, avian predation, lack of biomass, lack of suitable habitat, and poaching. Would these factors, or other unknown factors, make a measurable wild trout recovery impossible?

Will anglers be able to tell the difference?

Would a recovering population of wild trout lead to a more robust fishery for wild trout?  Would wild trout be more numerous, or bigger, or both?  Would hatchery trout still make up a substantial portion of the catch, as they are still stocked in the McKenzie immediately upstream of the study section?  How would this 5.1 mile section, when managed for wild trout, compare to the pre-2010 hatchery-dominated fishery?

Many McKenzie River anglers have been concerned about the impact hatchery fish are having on native trout populations.  We’re trying to collect enough data to determine the extent of what that impact has been.

Jeff Ziller

Head District Biologist, Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, KVAL News, 5/5/2010

There is no data on the redsides, except from a 1983 creel survey. For a marvelous river like this, it seems like there ought to be some data.

Steve Mealey

McKenzie River Guides Association, Eugene Register-Guard, 6/6/2006

Challenging questions require creative solutions

A government agency, a group of concerned anglers, and generous sponsors created the McKenzie Trout Study Consortium to answer these key questions.

Next: A Unique Partnership