Hatchery-reared rainbow trout are little economic engines. They’re also a lot of fun for kids of all ages — roughly age 3 to 100. Besides all of that, they make a tasty and healthy meal. I suggest you get out of the house, make a scenic drive to Lake Cachuma and have a blast.
When I pick up a freshly caught 8-inch rainbow, I can’t help but smile in awe. Besides a good fight and a good meal, that critter is a story of economic delight. We have national fish hatcheries, state fish hatcheries and private fish hatcheries. The managers at Lake Cachuma traditionally bring in fish from a state hatchery one week and larger trout from a private hatchery the next. They stock plenty of fish and of varying sizes, some of which are very respectable fish of several pounds.
Here are some interesting numbers and thoughts, from a peer-reviewed study by economist James Caudill of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The national hatchery system consists of 70 hatcheries. Retail sales on things associated with fishing for rainbow trout, like food, gas, lodging, rods and reels, and bait and tackle amounted to $172.7 million. That spending provided employment for 3,502 people and income of $80 million. Those wage earners contributed back to public treasuries — $2.9 million in state income taxes, and $10.6 million in federal income taxes. The bottom line is that fishing for rainbow trout generated a total economic output of $325.1 million in one year.
Taxpayers who fund the National Fish Hatchery System paid $5.4 million to produce rainbow trout. This means that for every dollar spent on rainbow trout production, it rises up through the economy fueling $32.20 in retail sales and $36.88 in net economic value. That is part of what amazes me about the pretty little fish … it makes good money. The other thing that amazes me is that it makes good sense to fish for them. There I am at a gorgeous lake soaking up stunning scenery, relaxing, lowering my blood pressure and raising my satisfaction with life.
Rainbow trout are by far the most popular cold water sports fish in the United States, and they offer many people a portal to angling and nature they would otherwise not have. Stream and lake fishing for rainbow trout is often a child’s first introduction to fishing. Anglers of every stripe seek rainbow trout in nearly every state, and when they do, you know that the effects are felt in the mom-and-pop business, rising up through the corporate board room.
To learn more about the national trout hatcheries and the amazing fish they rear, visit www.fws.gov/species/rainbowtrout. To learn more about our local hatchery resources, I recommend you go ask the folks at Lake Cachuma Lake. I think you will be glad you did.
Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a new nonprofit group providing seafaring opportunities for those in need.