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READ PDF Ë An Entirely Synthetic Fish: How Rainbow Trout Beguiled America and Overran the World õ Anders Halverson provides an exhaustively researched and grippingly rendered account of the rainbow trout and why it has become the most commonly stocked and controversial freshwater fish in the United States Discovered in the remote waters of northern California, rainbow trout have been artificially propagated and distributed for thanyears by government officials eager to present Americans with an opportunity to get back to nature by going fishing Proudly dubbed an entirely synthetic fish by fisheries managers, the rainbow trout has been introduced into every state and province in the United States and Canada and to every continent except Antarctica, often with devastating effects on the native fauna Halverson examines the paradoxes and reveals a range of characters, from nineteenth century boosters who believed rainbows could be the saviors of democracy to twenty first century biologists who now seek to eradicate them from waters around the globe Ultimately, the story of the rainbow trout is the story of our relationship with the natural world how it has changed and how it startlingly has not A fabulous story about the consequences of meddling with nature this book by a Professor of ecology and avid fly fisherman traces the spread of a single species of fish around the globe and the resultant impact on the habitats in which it has been introduced Worth reading it for the history, the natural history and the allegory. Sometime within the past ten years or so I became interested in native fish I have nothing against any species, I just like to see fish that are supposed to be in a watershed, in that watershed, not some other species occupying that water This desire to find native species in their native range has taken my fishing buddy and me to some out of the way little creeks we re talking about places in the middle of the desert 100 miles from the nearest town Creeks whose widths are measured in inche Sometime within the past ten years or so I became interested in native fish I have nothing against any species, I just like to see fish that are supposed to be in a watershed, in that watershed, not some other species occupying that water This desire to find native species in their native range has taken my fishing buddy and me to some out of the way little creeks we re talking about places in the middle of the desert 100 miles from the nearest town Creeks whose widths are measured in inches, not feet But it doesn t seem to matter where we go, how far away from civilization we get, we still come across water stocked with non native species Many of these places were stocked long before motorized travel was possible And I ve wondered what possessed people to stock fish in such places.Anders Halverson s new book, An Entirely Synthetic Fish How Rainbow Trout Beguiled America and Overran the World, answers that question for me In a fascinating look at the social and political maneuverings of the late nineteenth century through the present, Anders meticulous research lays bare some interesting tidbits of the stocking policies of the United States.One such gem is that the government was worried about the strength of the nation s men that they had notoriously less hardihood and endurance than the generation which preceded their own George Perkins Marsh, congressman and diplomat from the mid 1800 s This description was given in a report by Marsh under the auspices of the Legislature of Vermont on the Artificial Propagation of Fish He further stated that the sports of the chase angling being one of them was a way to increase the hardiness of the Americans At this time, many waterways were already seeing a decline in fish numbers and the artificial propagation of fish was seen as a way to increase those numbers With the urge to increase the robustness of its men, and the decline fish population the underpinnings were there for the introduction of non native species.Last year Eccles from the Turning Over Small Stones blog and I had a discussion about the terms Fish and Game and Fish and Wildlife as used in various agencies Why were the terms fish and game separate Shouldn t it just be Game or Wildlife, as in Utah Game or US Wildlife Service since fish are a type of game and fish are a type of wildlife Anders informs us that by the 1870s congress formed the United States Fish Commission to help tackle the problem of declining fish stocks, thus becoming the first governmental agency involved with animal husbandry in the US At a later time, the game and wildlife were added as the agency expanded So, in my mind at least, this solves the mystery.How the rainbow trout became the darling of the US Fish Commission, and just about every other angling agency in the world, is an interesting tale that Anders starts in San Francisco in 1872 with Livingston Stone looking for spawning salmon He eventually found the McCloud River and began propagating salmon By 1879 they were looking for a place on the McCloud to begin propagating trout as well And they did, with astounding success.Besides the historical ventures Anders skillfully and delightfully takes the reader on, he also dissects the biology of the stocking programs, covering the hardiness of a stock that is constantly used for breeding to whirling disease He discusses the loss of native species and the response or lack of it of individual state fish and game departments, how some of them have switched from stocking to conservation.This brings up an interesting problem that many fish and game departments need to tackle what is their responsibility when sportsmen who pay for licenses whose money is then possibly used to bankroll conservation and restoration instead of stocking , clamor forcatchable fish Through all of these topics Anders uses a reporters zeal for facts I ve estimated over 250 sources listed in the bibliography and detachment, thereby keeping an even keel on reporting the facts and not stepping on a soapbox to expound one particular side over another Even with this professional detachment, there is a keen sense of understanding and compassion shown for the stories he tells For, if nothing else but there is a lot of else , the book is full of stories told with the storyteller s art.Full Disclosure I have corresponded with Anders a few times by email I was one of the first couple of anglers to join his new website Angler s Life List and Native Fish Network And when he said he had a book available to be reviewed, I asked for a copy I don t have anything to profit from this review except getting a free book Which I already have
A really interesting, and well researched book about the perils of messing with Mother Nature in this case, by introducing rainbow trout to bodies of water for the purpose of creating excellent fishing spots This book is also quite well written. I ll never look at any trout the same way It s not just for people who like fish it s a great book for anyone interested in nature and the history of our country.