Whirling disease has absolutely hammered many, if not most, of the classic rainbow trout fisheries in the West.
That sentence alone, believe it or not, will raise the ire of some guides and shop owners throughout the country. Not that it isn’t true. But for some reason, I get bags of hate mail whenever I write anything that suggests whirling disease has impacted American rivers and trout fishing… as if it’s some dirty secret best left under wraps.
The good news is that scientists have a strain of Hofer-crossed rainbows that are now apparently reproducing in the wild. This may restore wild rainbow populations to Colorado, for example, within the next several years. And that’s great news, because some of these rivers here are shells of what they were 20 years ago. If anyone wants to argue either of those points, I’m ready to go.
If anything, I think it’s incumbent upon shops and guides who make their livings off the river resources to bang the drum loudest, and be most vigilant when issues like whirling disease, mudsnails, didymo, and other concerns come up, rather than being the lead propagandists. Most of them (by far) are doing just that. But to the others… I say you’re just plain wrong.