Monday, June 29, 2015

The State of Trout in America

Last week the world's preeminent coldwater conservation organization, Trout Unlimited (TU), released a nation spanning report on the state of native trout in the United States.  The report reflects a remarkable shift in the vision and focus of Trout Unlimited from wild, non-native trout to native trout.

The report is sobering in its assessment of today's threats to native trout, yet optimistic in its vision for tomorrow.  Paraphrasing from the report, three of twenty-eight species and subspecies of trout are extinct while thirteen species occupy less than 25% of their historical habitat.  Trout Unlimited has strongly presented the case that the threats to native trout are continuing to increase rather than decrease.  Threats to native trout and their habit have long been recognized and include historic natural resource practices, the indiscriminate stocking of non-native trout, and most recently climate change.
Tensleep Creek, Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming

Trout Unlimited presented an eight-point strategy to protect and restore native trout throughout the United States.  The strategy is ambitious and, much to TU's credit, seeks to build bridges with industries that are often vilified.  Many of the points contained in the report are familiar to those who know the organization, others reflect advances in the germane fields of science, while a couple of the points reflect where the organization has fallen short and seeks self-improvement.

Trout Unlimited claims 155,000 members and notes that we  are an odd bunch as well as a group that contributes tremendously to local economies through both the love of our sport and our passion for conservation.  Chris Wood, President and CEO of Trout Unlimited, is on the mark when he describes fly anglers passion, stubbornness, optimism, and charity.  The State of the Trout Report reflects not only the tremendous threats to the beautiful fish that in great measure allows fly fishing to be as much sport as art, but also the uphill battle that this generation and next must undertake if native trout are continue to be a beautiful and unique part of our world.

As I explore the report in more detail I will revisit it's substance in future blog posts.
The report can be found at- http://www.tu.org/stateofthetrout
Cheers,
Brad


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Fishing when the Cacti Bloom

It is the tail-end of that time of year when I (and many others) anxiously await for the high waters of spring runoff to subside so that I may again return to the water with rod in hand.  This year, runoff was extended courtesy of late spring snow and rains that followed a depressingly warm January and February.




As my anxiety has begun to peak I've taken to almost daily treks along the Stock Paul Nature Trail on the edge of town here in Cody, WY.  Walking along the trails nearly everyday this last week, gazing enviously at the churning river, singular yellow blooms along the sagebrush covered uplands would occasionally catch my eye.



The nearly daily pilgrimage's to the  edge of the Shoshone River have treated me to an increase in the delicate, beautiful yellow blooms of fragile prickly pear cactus (Opuntia fragilis).  Having the opportunity to enjoy the brief window of blooming cacti pulled my gaze from the river and instead opened my eye to nature around me.  Now, as I wait for the waters to recede, I've taken to tallying the birds of the nearby sagebrush uplands and the riparian corridor of the Shoshone River.
Cheers,
Brad

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Stomach Pumps Diminish the Sport of Fly Fishing

The use of stomach pumps in fly fishing diminish the value of ethical chase in the same manner as the use of silencers in hunting.

We've all been there- casting endlessly to rising trout only to be refused at every offering.  We change flies, we change tippet sizes, we change the type of cast we use, but nothing seems to work.  Then suddenly the surge of the strike breaks our haze of determined frustration- fish on!  There's nothing quite like landing a fish after such tireless exertions.  It's the highest form of prize in a pursuit that straddles both sport and art.

To stuff a plastic tube down the throat of this prize to pull from it the meals it has struggled to gather at the cost of its own energy reserves can do nothing but sully the trophy that has been  so hard sought.  And to what gain?  So that we can just catch more fish or larger fish?  If that is what the sport has been reduced to then it is just as easy to follow a stocking truck and wait for it to disgorge its load of hatchery raised flesh.

The time has come to recognize that stomach pumps have no place in the sport of fly fishing.  Anglers have far too many other choices from which to choose in order to pursue trout ethically.  Sometimes that means changing flies for the tenth time or, as I've done on more occasions that I like to admit, returning home without having landed a single fish.
Let the discussion begin!
Cheers,
Brad

You can also find me on:
Twitter-   @conservationfly
Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/conservationflyfishing

Monday, June 8, 2015

Fishing for Science?!

Just when you thought life couldn't get any better Trout Unlimited has again launched its TroutBlitz fish identification effort.  The TroutBlitz calls on anglers to fish in the name of science and if that weren't enough, Trout Unlimited is offering prizes each month to those who document the highest number of species caught through the month of October.  Admittedly, I'm a little behind in getting the word out on this as TroutBlitz officially kicked-off on May 23rd- my apology to all.  And just to show that I'm not trying to tip the scales in my favor I will admit that I haven't even put a line in the water this year (yes, I'm a bit ashamed to admit that).
Gibbon River at Norris Meadow's Picnic area, 
Yellowstone National Park

Trout Unlimited has developed the iNaturalist  app for you to document your catch with a picture and location, which you can then upload directly to their science team.  I sincerely hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to add your chapter to the world's ecological book of knowledge.
Cheers and see you on the water,
Brad







You can also find me on:
Twitter-   @conservationfly
Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/conservationflyfishing