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10 things we can do to protect our fisheries in 2024

Angler activism takes many forms, here are just a few
The North Umpqua Wild and Scenic River in Oregon (photo: Bob Wick / BLM).

It’s 2024 and far too many of our fisheries here in the U.S. are in serious trouble. Fortunately, there are some positive steps each of us can take going forward. While not every suggestion below will be a good fit for every single angler, be sure to check as many as possible off the list this year.

Have we taken our love for native trout too far?

It’s time to embrace wild trout. Wherever they swim. Whatever their pedigree.
A wild, wonderful brown trout swimming in non-native waters (photo: Chad Shmukler).

It’s possible we’ve taken our passion for native trout a bit too far. Not that North America’s native fish should be held in disdain. Far from it.

In putting the notion of Manifest Destiny into practice — first by identifying it as the inevitable future for European Americans in the mid-1800s and then by actively pursuing it as an ideal — our predecessors doomed more than just the Indigenous people of our continent.


Broncos, Nuggets, tarpon and dive bars
Photo: Chris Hunt

Carl Jung coined the term “synchronicity.” The term applies when multiple, unrelated events play out in a way that makes them seem intertwined, even when there’s no evidence that they are linked in any way.

In February of 2016, I was in tiny Punta Allen, Quintana Roo, steeped in Mexico’s wild and jungly Yucatan. I’d spent a perfectly lovely Sunday prowling the flats for bonefish and permit, catching the former and getting an abrupt middle finger (fin?) from the latter.

Group sues to block plan to save Yellowstone cutthroat trout by relocating them

Wilderness Watch files lawsuit to stop efforts to relocate cutthroat trout to a formerly fishless creek
A spawning Yellowstone cutthroat trout (photo: Jacob Frank / NPS / modified).

Sometimes the enemy of good isn’t evil. Sometimes the enemy of good is perfect. This may be the case on Buffalo Creek, a wild trout stream that runs through the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness of southern Montana before crossing into Yellowstone National Park. Buffalo Creek is a tributary of Slough Creek and, eventually, the Lamar River. It’s also been identified as the source of the non-native rainbow trout that have persistently been showing up in both Slough Creek and the Lamar.

A pike trip to brook trout lake

Not all fishing trips follow the script
Photo: Chris Hunt

My fascination with Labrador started sometime in the late 1990s. Having grown up in the mountains of Colorado, where seemingly every little creek and beaver pond was stacked with non-native brook trout that topped out at about eight inches long, I yearned to feel the tug of a real brookie — a five-pound behemoth that swam where it was supposed to swim. That place, of course, was Labrador. The far-flung Canadian province might have been on the same continent, but for a young angler with limited means and designs on a somewhat normal existence, Labrador might as well have been on the moon.