Author details how rainbow trout conquered the world

Wed Apr 7, 2010 5:33pm EDT
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By Ed Stoddard

DALLAS (Reuters Life!) - In the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex fishermen can catch their fill of rainbow trout during the relative cool of the winter months in several stocked dams and at least one stream.

Rainbow trout can also be pursued in South Africa and even Malawi, countries where they have been featured on postage stamps. They are found on every continent except Antarctica.

That makes this spotted trout, with its emblematic red horizontal stripe, as successful a colonizer as cattle and corn and its ubiquity derives from the same source: humanity's love affair with it.

It is an affair detailed by Anders Halverson, a journalist, angler and scientist, in "An Entirely Synthetic Fish: How Rainbow Trout Beguiled America and Overran the World."

Rainbows are native only to the Pacific Rim, from Mexico to Russia's Far East. But they are coveted for their perceived fighting prowess and beauty. Hatchery-reared rainbows have been distributed since the late 19th century to every U.S. state and around 80 countries around the world.

Along the way, Wyoming in 1962 launched a massive poisoning campaign in the Green River watershed to kill off the native fish and make way for the rainbows. U.S, military aircraft have also made trout drops into remote, fishless lakes.

Many U.S. states are now rolling back decades of stocking policies and "trout wars" have broken out in places such as South Africa, as the conservation paradigm shifts to the preservation of native species.

Still, for each American that is born, 20 rainbow trout are still stocked in waterways at public expense, including in unlikely urban locations such as Dallas.   Continued...

<p>The cover of Anders Halverson's "An Entirely Synthetic Fish: How Rainbow Trout Beguiled America and Overran the World". REUTERS/Yale University Press</p>