Would somebody please explain to me why the “fry” fish are being released just prior to the summer heat onslaught? Water temperatures should do nothing but increase until next September. From what I understand, less than 5% of the grown hatchery trout released every year make it through the summer in the Guadalupe River due to heat stress alone. Much less when you consider human and animal predation and stress caused by the thousands of tubers! If this is being done to accommodate the end of a school year, and there is nobody who is able to figure a way to harbor the fish safely until next winter, then in my opinion we should find something else to do with our time and money.
Thanks for the feedback. Lets step back and look at the big picture here:
1) What is the purpose of the TITC project in Houston? The purpose of the TFF involvement in the project is NOT to establish a self-sustaining population of trout in the Guadalupe. The purpose of the entire project is to help foster an interest in aquatic biology and conservation issues in Houston schools.
2) Is the current release schedule optimized? That something I don’t have a definitive answer for, however we can consider two things – natural trout spawning time and logistics of raising the fry. For the former we receive eggs from the hatchery in January. These are rainbows and this is when the eggs are available too us. Rainbows in rivers would naturally spawn in the late fall and so if we did have a naturally spawning population of trout in the Guad we would still have very small fish having to last through the summer anyway. In fact TU puts eggs in hatching boxes in the river in January also – so their fish are at exactly the same stage as ours when the summer heat comes. The bigger issue is that the Guad is not a natural trout river of course – however it is the only place within hundreds of miles of here that the fish have any hope at all of surviving in regardless of the time of year we released them in. Now lets consider logistics. The tanks for these fish start out at 50 gallons. We raise about 80-100 eggs and by the time we release in April/May (when the fish are 4 months old) they are up to 3in long already. The fish also require chillers to keep the water at 50-55deg. If we were to keep the fish from January to November we would likely have fish pushing 6-8in long and needing tanks of the order of 150-200gallons, upgraded filters, upgraded chillers, etc which would cost a considerable amount. Plus we would need to move them out of the schools during the summer (due to the lack of access for teachers) and would need a place to store 14 tanks of this size and someone with the time and commitment to keep them healthy and fed all summer long. Additionally TPWD stocks 10-12in long fish in the fall and their survival rate is low also.
I think we are doing the best we can do considering the limitations above and we are running a very popular project as we have several teachers who have been working with us for 5-6 years and I have new teachers asking to join all the time. In addition I am also investigating the feasibility of redfish in the classroom and guadalupe bass in the classroom however these have much more technical hurdles and have no national organizational support like TU so its a lot harder to do. People have also caught 6in trout in the Guad in the fall – fish too small to have come from anywhere other than the TITC program or the egg boxes..so some do make it!
****My bad! rainbows spawn in the early spring…..browns in the fall. Same point , just got my spawning times mixed up
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