Low Intensity Supplemental Feeding of a Wild Stream-dwelling Rainbow Trout Population

The objectives of this study were to evaluate the biological impacts and cost effectiveness of a low intensity supplemental feeding program on a wild rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) population. Using volunteers to distribute feed at predetermined amounts and frequencies, wild trout population densities, standing crops, and length-frequencies were monitored for 18 months on Looking Glass Creek near Brevard, North Carolina. A priori success criteria included an increase of 60 fish/km >254 mm and a cost to produce each trout >254 mm <$5.00. Both densities and standing crops of rainbow trout >100 mm increased significantly following 18 months of feeding. The number of rainbow trout >254 mm increased by an estimated 110 fish/km after 6 months and to 315/km after 18 months, excluding harvested fish. Each fish was estimated to cost $3.44 to produce. Supplemental feeding of wild trout populations is a viable management option that can be used to enhance wild trout growth.

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