1: Introduction: Why Trout and Char
Jeffrey L. Kershner, Jack E. Williams, Robert E. Gresswell, and Javier Lobón-Cerviá
As long time admirers of trout and char, we have spent most of our careers either thinking about, studying, or—less frequently than we would prefer—catching these wonderful animals. The volume of chapters that follows is a labor of love of sorts and a tribute to the animals that swim in the cold, clear waters of lakes and streams around the world. We believe, as Harrison Ford once said when asked why he enjoyed trout fishing, and we paraphrase here, “Because they live in all the best places.” Although the American actor Harrison Ford was likely thinking of North America’s iconic rivers like the Yellowstone (Figure 1), Flathead, or South Fork Snake, he could have spoken the same words of other scenic rivers across the world, like the Neretva River in Bosnia Herzegovina (Figure 2) or Zhupanova River in Russia (Figure 3). Increasingly such places are becoming more rare, and as the world population grows, the demand for natural resources increases, and our climate warms, we are approaching a crossroads for many of these unique species (Kovach et al. 2019; Muhlfeld et al. 2019; both this volume).
In 2016, the First International Trout Congress was held in Bozeman, Montana, USA, and it brought together scientists, managers, teachers, artists, and anglers to talk about the role of trout in ecosystems and to discuss the social and economic importance of trout. As part of the congress, we held a juried art show where paintings, sculpture, and photos were submitted with the theme of celebrating trout. The cover on this volume is a painting by artist Mimi Matsuda to celebrate the diversity of trout and char around the world. As the meeting came to a close, a number of us discussed a follow-up meeting, and the idea arose that we should put together a compilation of papers that reflect what we know about the current status of trout and char across the globe and describe some of the issues facing the persistence of these species.