David and I were able to return to the States for Thanksgiving. I come from a large family and holidays have always been important to us. We were very grateful to have such proficient help at the farm-Martin, Jonathon and his wife Jessica. It made leaving, even for a short time, much less stressful.
Of course, given that we live in paradise, it isnt as though we needed a vacation. So we made the most out of our time and visited a fish farm in our local area in Oregon.
It was fascinating to me for several reasons. Legend has it, that the origin of trout in the mountainous regions of Costa Rica, was from trout eggs imported from Oregon directly to our Hush Valley ponds.
I also found it interesting that though we passed Gnat Creek Fish Hatchery (while living in the States) at least once a week, I had never been there.
What a great place! We had a very well educated staff member show us around and explain how/what they do there.
They specialize in supplementing the Salmon runs, but they also have steelhead and sturgeon.
They grow the hatchlings from eggs, in large trays with a gravity fed water system.
Fun fact: Egg bearing female fish are called Hens.
We really enjoyed our 'fish hatching 101' course, so when we returned, we jumped in- both feet, and bought 5000 fry. Martin and Dave went to the hatchery here in Costa Rica, and also had a tour of their facility.
The process is a bit different, but so is the scale.
This hatchery is a business, supplying fry to many/most of the mountain farms.
Gnat Creek supplements natural runs for release into the wild.
The trout fry here are kept in tanks. They are shocked with electricity while in the zygote stage , to make them all female (or try anyway). Females are advantageous as they have more capacity for meat, and grow to a larger size. They are shocked again later in their development in an effort to make them sterile. Sterile females are ideal because their abdomen fill with trout meat versus eggs.
The fry are sent home in large plastic bags, about 1000 in each. We then transfer them to our hatchery tanks, and grow them the rest of the way
We had noticed that our trout meat is more pink, like salmon, even when cooked . I asked the guide about the difference. I was told that the color comes from an algae containing astaxanthin. This chemical compound is a keto-carotinoid. Its the same algae that shrimp and salmon eat that give them their pink color. Mountain trout in Oregon do not have the same access to this algae, and thus their meat is much whiter in color.
Armed with our new information, we decided to give it a go. We selected 20 adult hens. Hens must be at least a year old to be able to spawn. We also pulled several males. The hens are kept in a new/old pond that hasn't been actively used in a decade or so.
We are hoping to do our first batch of Hush Valley 'start to finish' trout in March.
We will keep you posted on that.
Next blog, we will talk about our first guests of the season! Spoiler alert- they were great!
We will have updates on our new project (its a big one!) AND possibly, a guest blogger too, as partners Peter and Jo will be joining us in just over a week.
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Dave and Krista are a couple from the Pacific Northwest that led overwhelmingly busy lives.
Click here to pick up your copy of Anne's book! It's all about their adventure and the establishment of Hush Valley Lodge: from leaving their middle-class suburban lifestyle in Canada to reinventing themselvess in the beautiful mountains of Costa Rica. Check it out and if you enjoy it, please spread the word! Thanks!