Wyomingites, especially anglers, were treated to to some fantastic news last week. Wild fish numbers have increased and surpassed expectations in the Hoback River. This Cowboy was able to get a unique perspective on the story.

Usually, I never get a unique anything. Brian Scott interviews and counts U.S senators and representatives among his friends. Rodeo Rick has several country celebrity buddies. I held Rick Trevino's hat for him once. "Rick who?"...exactly. So this happens to be a very cool and defining moment for me.

That's because my new sister-in-law, Diana Miller, is employed with Wyoming Game & Fish as one of their leading wildlife biologists, and she knows her fish...and she knows me. She's been interviewed for numerous articles, been heard on NPR, and been seen on Wyoming's Call of the Wild. Take that Brian and Rick.

And while that doesn't mean that I can get you free licenses or increase your odds in the yearly draws, I can draw upon Diana's first-hand knowledge of the trout resurgence in the Hoback. I asked her a few questions.

First I wanted her to detail exactly what the big deal was. Her reply:

" The Hoback River was historically stocked with Snake River Cutthroat Since since the 50's. At that time, stocking was a very common practice to provide recreational activities for the public. There were also fewer restrictions on creel limits and the catch and release mentality that many anglers have today didn't really exist. So there was a lot more people keeping a lot more fish. The Hoback is very accessible and the wild fishery couldn't handle the removal of so many fish. After so many years of stocking, very few wild fish were seen in the Hoback and the hatchery fish didn't appear to be surviving the harsh winters in the river. In the early 2000's, fisheries biologists in Jackson realized that anglers were keeping many fewer fish and that wild fish would be more capable of surviving the winters. They began reducing the number of fish stocked into the Hoback and finally stocked the final fish into the Hoback in 2004."

What have you concluded, sis?

"Since stocking stopped, the wild fish numbers in the Hoback have rebounded. There are currently more Snake River Cutthroat in the Hoback than when stocking was occurring. This means more fish for anglers and less cost to maintain this fishery."

Will this lead to more research into our fish stocking practices?

"Probably not, biologists have known that stocked fish survival in rivers is low and, in general, Wyoming Game and Fish don't stock flowing waters where wild fish are present. The Hoback is just a great example of why!" 

Diana's insight was also captured in the Jackson Hole News & Guide.

I want to thank Diana for allowing me to exploit her position, intelligence in this matter, and our relationship. See you at Christmas! Now let's get fishing!

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