Trout and Char of the World

4: The Cultural Currents and Social Values of Trout

Jen C. Brown, Kenneth H. Lokensgard, Samuel Snyder, and Malcolm Draper

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781934874547.ch4

As charismatic species with expansive native, naturalized, and stocked ranges, trout hold a wide-ranging cultural import. In Europe, trout have inspired great literature and art for centuries. “No sport has a finer literature than fishing, and no part of that literature is finer than that devoted to the fly,” John Waller Hills wrote in his 1921 history of trout fishing (Hills 1921). Since then, the literature has grown even more while trout have been culturally embraced in various parts of the world. From Patagonia and the Rocky Mountains to Mongolia, New Zealand, and elsewhere, trout provide a critical driver in the economic dimensions of outdoor recreation. Trout have also served as an axis for fisheries science ranging from early work in artificial propagation to contemporary efforts to assess the impacts of climate change on rivers, watersheds, and ecosystems. This chapter synthesizes existing scholarship on the changing values that have shaped fishing, trout introductions, fisheries management, and conservation.

In many places around the world, today’s anglers and fisheries managers have inherited trout fisheries. Each of those species or subspecies carry with them a unique history and contested narrative. They potentially swim in watersheds under assault from urbanization, resource development, and, of course, climate change. Understanding these diverse fisheries requires humanistic inquiry into the cultural and social factors that influenced fishing, management, and environmental ethics over time.