It’s very much en vogue these days to be a “dam buster,” and there are plenty of situations where dam removal can only be a victory for fish and for anglers. This is especially true in rivers where fish like salmon and steelhead must migrate to spawn. The Kennebec, the Columbia, etc.

But before we accept the wholesale mantra that all dams are bad for fishing, let’s acknowledge the gorilla in the room. And that is that 90 percent of today’s famous trout waters–the Bighorn, the Colorado River at Lees Ferry, the Green, the Delaware, the Missouri, the North Platte, the Muskegon, the White, The Frying Pan, The Gunnison, the Taylor, and too many more to list right here, all owe their existences to dams. Remove these dams, and all those photos of monster tailwater rainbow and brown trout become relics.

And in many cases, if there is a trout fishery remaining at all, it will be of a seasonal variety, sustaining thinner populations of smaller (though perhaps native) trout. And that’s a trade the fly fishing industry would never, ever make.

Would you?