Anglers May Have To Choose Between Browns or Rainbows on Idaho’s Silver Creek

Ran across this blog post from  David Glasscock at Silver Creek Watch and thought I’d put it out here for discussion. How do all of you feel about rainbows versus browns in central Idaho’s Silver Creeek? If you haven’t fished Silver Creek and aren’t familiar with its fishery, just think of it in terms of your favorite waters. Which would you prefer if you had to choose one—rainbow or brown trout? Would love to know, and would like to know why. Thanks.

A few years back, the Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game conducted an open house in Hailey, Idaho. One of the topics was to pass out a questionaire to the public on Brown trout populating Silver Creek.

I attended this meeting and filled out the questionnaire along with many other anglers.The Fish & Game were considering opening up a catch & kill season on Brown Trout. As I recall, the consensus was that the majority of anglers were in favor of the Brown Trout fishery in Silver Creek. Subsequently the F&G did not implement new regulation changes.

As the story goes, Jack Hemingway introduced or helped introduced Brown Trout to Silver Creek when he was one of the Fish and Game Commissioners for Idaho. Kudos to Jack for his foresight in enhancing the trout fishery in Silver Creek! Silver Creek has a fantastic Brown Trout and Rainbow fishery. Its my opinion that the Brown Trout fishery represents the trophy fishery in Silver Creek.

Now, where was the pressure coming from to remove or try and change fishing regulations (harvesting Brown trout) on Silver Creek? I recently asked this question to Mr. Dave Parrish with the IDFG. At the time of the public open house at the Community Campus in Hailey, Dave was the regional director for Region 4 within the IDFG.

Here was Mr. Parrish response:
Just to give you some history, TNC came to us saying, antidotally, that brown trout were dominating the fishery within the Conservancy. They wanted us to physically remove brown trout to restore rainbow trout as the dominate fish through the area. Rather than us electrofish or trapping browns and moving them – which would be labor intensive, risk spread of diseases, and not cost effective, we proposed limited harvest of brown trout. Frankly, we suspected there wouldn’t be much public support for the concept, but we wanted to gauge the public’s concern for the rainbow/brown trout fishery on Silver Creek and share the information with TNC.

Why would TNC want the IDFG to remove Brown Trout from Silver Creek? I had not noticed any sort of domination of one trout species over the other in my 33 years of fishing/guiding on Silver Creek. I’ve always caught far more Rainbows than Brown Trout.

Today, I was reviewing permitting applications for the new irrigation dam that Purdy is currently installing in Kilpatrick Pond. With the new dam is a fish ladder component. The design calls for a check structure or gate at the top of the dam. This gate is being constructed per the TNCs request to block any invasive species or Brown Trout from migrating upstream.

TNC has not elaborated on what invasive species they are concerned about moving over this dam. They have stated in meetings that they want to block Brown Trout from moving upstream, especially during the spawning season in the fall.

I personally do not want a landowner along Silver Creek to try and manage the fishery. We have a very competent F&G state department to do that for us. If TNC has control over the Purdy dam fish ladder gate, then effectively they are managing the fishery. This is not right.

TNC obviously still wants to have Rainbow Trout as the dominate trout species in Silver Creek. I have heard comments from their staff that the rainbows are more closely related to the native species that populated Silver Creek originally. What was the original trout species in Silver Creek? Was it a Red Band trout? Cuttroat? I’m not sure if anyone knows the definitive answer to this question. One things for sure, the Rainbow Trout that populate Silver Creek are descendents of planted trout, probably Rainbows from Northern California.

Both Brown trout and Rainbows were introduced to Silver Creek…..

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7 Responses to Anglers May Have To Choose Between Browns or Rainbows on Idaho’s Silver Creek

  1. Eric B says:

    Rainbows and browns coexist in numerous quality fisheries – and as you state, neither are native species. I have no issue with a scientific based approach to managing the resource, and implementation of a limited harvest if deemed appropriate. This is not uncommon in waters that contain both browns and rainbows. However, I disagree with an approach based on a species being “more closely related to the native species,” and am surprised that TNC is promoting such a position. Brown or rainbow? Both!

  2. JB says:

    The public wants to catch big trout, regardless of species. If the brown trout fishery is good, and producing good fish, the public wants that. Managing to to correct past management decisions risks further mismanagement.

  3. Tobin says:

    Since there seems to a lack of clearly defined purpose and reasoning, this issue should be shelved until there is a clear reasonable argument. What are the short and long term impacts to either, or both? As for one or the other, I don’t have a preference, but to use Alston Chase’s line – who’s playing God here?

  4. bob mallard says:

    Silver Creek may be the finest small stream trophy brown trout fishery in the country–at least a wild fishery with public access… More importantly, I do not think that ID has to do anything–leave it alone, it is not broke.. Browns and bows coexist well in the stream. Both are wild–neither are native.. I have taken browns over 2′ long in Silver.. Why would ANYONE deliberately destroy that? It is like what is going on in the Lewis River in YNP.. Declare war on the wild browns in a river that can never be cleansed up them due to the lake above.. Again, browns over 20″–and of Loch Levin genes–and we are going to try to remove them.. Why? What is to gain? And by the way, I am a native trout advocate and ffing writer/author–including working on a SIlver Creek as we speak.. But unless we are talking cutts vs. bows, brookies vs. browns, etc., it just doesn’t make sense.. But If forced to pick one, it would be the browns.. PS – Can I post a pic?

    • Greg Thomas says:

      Excellent clarity. Exactly how I look at this issue. If it involved natives that’s one thing. But this is different. Seems like a hands off approach would work best. E-mail a pic to me and I’ll post it. Thanks for taking the time. I love Silver Creek and fished it every day I could for six years. Nothing like it. Here’s the e-mail.

      • bob mallard says:

        Thanks.. I spent 9 days on Silver Creek two summers ago and 4 days on it this summer.. I have fished it for 25ish years.. It hasn’t changed all that much.. I see the browns as a “bonus”.. They do not come easy–you have to work for them, and fish for them.. I am writing a book about “Trout Towns” as we speak.. Ketchum is a featured town–and Silver Creek is the reason.. Take it away and the Big Wood, Big Lost, Little Wood and Magic are probably not enough to warrant inclusion.. Take it away and I would probably not go there.. Take away the browns and I would never view it the same.. If folks hung around after dark they would be amazed at the number of large browns spooking around Silver that are rarely seen during the daytime.. It is part of the allure of what is my favorite fishery in the country–and I have fished all over ME, NH, VT, MA, CT, NY, PA, VA, MD, AZ, NM, UT, CO, MT, WY, ID, WA…….. It is a true slice of fly fishing heaven……… Please don’t “fix” it……..

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