In my last post I talked about going to a wild stream. I thought I had caught my first NC brook trout. Come to find out these fish were most likely stocked fish that had moved up a tributary. My friend and I started to have the discussion about when is a fish defined as wild? We both have the opinion that if a fish lives in a certain stream at some point it is a wild fish. It has learned the survival skills to live in its environment. There is a lot of controversy in North Carolina over this term "wild". Some people classify native fish as wild where others hate this term. They like to call stream born fish native and fish that have moved into a water system and survived wild.
That throws in a new factor. If a fish moves into a territory then has offspring are those fry now native? You can see how this can get complicated and to make matters worse even biologists have a hard time finding out exactly which fish are native anymore. I wonder if a new classification will be determined soon. Fish that haven't been found in certain areas are discovered all the time. Recently I participated in a brook trout survey where we found smallmouth high up in a mtn stream. As neat as it was to find them this is bad news for trout. Smallmouth can easily become the dominant predator in a small trout stream. Are we kidding ourselves by trying to catch a fish that is truly native? I'd like to hear others opinions about this and when is a fish considered wild?