Monday, September 18, 2017

Wyoming Mountains- where fly fishing & conservation connect

My childhood home-waters were filled with brook, brown, and rainbow trout, and continue to be today.  I'm as thankful today as I was then that my favorite streams were teeming with trout just waiting for a young boy to cast a fly to them.

I was stunned to learn years later that none of the trout species that I loved to fish for as a boy were native to the water's I so loved.  No, Yellowstone cutthroat are the natives of my home-waters, and had long ago been replaced by the trout I grew-up with.  I love brook, brown, and rainbow trout no less for being non-natives in my home-waters, but the world is changing and it is time to make room for natives, which is the central argument of my book Wyoming Mountains & Home-waters.

The wonderful news is that Yellowstone cutthroat trout, native to Wyoming's Bighorn Mountains and my own home-waters, are being returned to their historical home range.  I can now fish for the trout that I grew-up loving as well as the native species that occupied the waters when my family first laid eyes on Wyoming- five generations ago.

Want to learn more about the history of Wyoming's trout or the plight and restoration of native trout in the Rocky Mountains?  Then check out Wyoming Mountains & Home-waters: Family Fly Fishing, and Conservation, it addresses those issues and so much more!
A gorgeous Yellowstone cutthroat trout from Wyoming's Bighorn Mountains.
My book Wyoming Mountains & Home-waters: Family, Fly Fishing, and Conservation is now available at Amazon in both print and Kindle versions (here).
I hope you enjoy the book and this blog!
Until next time,
Cheers & tight lines,

Brad

Want updates and news on this book and other coming from Sage Creek Press? You can signup for our newsletter on the website.  


You can find me at:
email-books@sagecreekpress.com
Twitter- @ConserveTrout

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Egalitarian Sport

Ever been told that fly fishing is for the rich? Don't you believe a word of it!

Like any hobby a portion of the fly fishing industry caters to the economic upper echelon.  I can tell you with no uncertainty that the image that has risen in the popular consciousness of an immaculately dressed guy decked-out in thousands of dollars of gear and clothing approaching a pristine trout stream is nothing more than a marketing gimmick.

In reality, fly fishing is the egalitarian sport.  It appeals to men and women not because of the image it projects as the sport of the rich, but for what it offers all people-- not rich people.  Be it sporting challenge, peace and tranquility on the stream, or an opportunity for camaraderie as one heals from the wounds of war or the ravages of cancer, fly fishing provides a connection to sport and nature that is found nowhere else.
Economic status is no indicator of fly fishing passion.

As I detail in Wyoming Mountains & Home-waters, growing-up in a two-bedroom trailer-house with eight members of my family provides a good sense of the poverty that gripped my family in rural Wyoming.  Fishing, because it provided food, was an important part of my life;  my first pole was a spin/ fly combo available for a price that even my family could afford.  The connection I made to nature and the sport of fly fishing, regardless of childhood poverty, shaped my life.  The same is true of many who take up fly fishing-- for whatever their reason.  The image of fly fishing as the sport of the rich detracts from what it truly is: the every-man's sport.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

This is Wyoming Mountains- and more!

Wyoming is a special place.  Many who come here are struck by a sense of rapture as they gaze up at the Teton Mountains, smell the sulfur of Yellowstone's geysers, or wait for the electric shock of a trout striking a dry fly on wilderness waters, all for the first time; each one of these experiences are Wyoming through-and-through.

Many people visit Wyoming for a once-in-lifetime trip, others will return time and again, and then a few will move out here permanently.  Its the love of a landscape that draws us here, enthralls us with rugged peaks, seas of sagebrush, and turquoise streams.  In essence the sense of place that is Wyoming is what ties us all together no matter our background.

It's love of my native Wyoming that propelled me to write Wyoming Mountains & Home-waters, it's also why, in the second half of the book, I've laid out a vision for conservation that spans from mountain peaks to valley bottoms.  Its only when when we take our love of a landscape and turn that expansive vision into action that we'll bridge our own differences to solve seemingly intractable problems- together.

This week's blog post is a sample of pictures from my travels this summer in my native Wyoming.  In short- this is Wyoming.
A mineral hot spring in Thermopolis, WY.

Looking from one wilderness peak to another.

Wyoming mountain stream.

Deep in the Cloudpeak Wilderness.

Golden Lake at 11,000 feet. Notice that just beyond the
nearest ridge there is nothing but blue sky.
My book Wyoming Mountains & Home-waters: Family, Fly Fishing, and Conservation is now available at Amazon in both print and Kindle versions (here).
I hope you enjoy the book and this blog!

Until next time,
Cheers & tight lines,

Brad

Want updates and news on this book and other coming from Sage Creek Press? You can signup for our newsletter on the website.  


You can find me at:
email-books@sagecreekpress.com
Twitter- @ConserveTrout

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Published! Wyoming Mountains & Home-waters

The book Wyoming Mountains & Home-waters: Family, Fly Fishing, and Conservation is now available on Amazon.com (here) as both print and Kindle versions!






I hope you enjoy the book!
Until next time,
Cheers & Tight Lines,

Brad

Want updates and news on this book and other coming from Sage Creek Press? You can signup for our newsletter on the website.  


You can find me at:
email-books@sagecreekpress.com
Twitter- @ConserveTrout

Monday, August 7, 2017

Trout Fishing & Theodore Roosevelt

Our 26th president's name is increasingly bandied about as uncertainty over the future of our natural resources, particularly those on public lands, reaches new heights. Leaving aside the hyperbole and knee-jerk reactions to the daily gyrations that surround our current politics, environmental or otherwise, there are fascinating reverberations in our forests and streams from Theodore Roosevelt's era that continue to resonate today.

Let's leave behind the broader questions that are currently hanging over our natural resource and public land policies (questions that I know are causing many people tremendous anxiety) and instead look at how Theodore Roosevelt helped shape today's trout fishing experience.

Theodore Roosevelt was a master outdoorsman and big game hunter, but a fisherman... not so much.  In an article title, "Theodore Roosevelt as an Angler," Paul Schullery neatly presents that Roosevelt did enjoy angling from time-to-time, but usually in the pursuit of food rather than sport.  Roosevelt reserved his sporting appetite for the big game he so loved to chase.
Misty Moon Lake, Cloudpeak Wilderness, WY

Roosevelt held a front row seat to the 19th century tug-of-war between those who wanted development of natural resources and those who wanted conservation of the country's bountiful resources.  He saw the debate not as diametrically opposed outcomes, but two sides of the same coin.

So where does Theodore Roosevelt fit into today's trout fishing experience? Roosevelt appreciated that society requires access to the nation's natural resources, but he also recognized that conservation was a critical component of natural resource management to prevent large-scale degradation of the American landscape.  Additionally, he promoted the "strenuous life", particularly outdoor activity, believing that even in the late 1800's and early 1900's that urbanization was sapping the hardiness from American society.

Roosevelt's pragmatism in the development of natural resource policy and his promotion of the "strenuous life" provided incentives for the government and private citizens to fill many fishless wilderness lakes with trout in order to provide Americans additional sporting pursuit.  The stocking of wilderness waters has carried forward today.

Just three weeks ago I pursued brook, golden, and Yellowstone cutthroat trout in the Cloudpeak Wilderness of Wyoming's Bighorn Mountains. Echoes of Teddy Roosevelt's pragmatic natural resource policies whispered softly to me across the aquamarine surface of the alpine lakes I cast my fly upon. We have much to continue to thank our 26th president for.

My forthcoming book, Wyoming Mountains & Home-waters: Family, Fly Fishing, and Conservation, holds tales of Theodore Roosevelt, trout, wilderness, and much, much more.  You can find information here; want updates and news on it and other books coming from Sage Creek Press? You can signup for our newsletter on the website.  
Until next time,
Cheers & Tight Lines,
Brad




You can find me at:
email-books@sagecreekpress.com
Twitter- @ConserveTrout

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The 10-hour Trout

Looking down from the cliff I was perched on I wondered how many people ever chose to pursue trout in dangerous conditions.  With that thought I turned around and set out to look for a different path to the golden trout lakes I was seeking.

Just last year I'd had tremendous luck on the lakes I was seeking.  But this year I was approaching the lakes from a different direction, intending to bushwhack a new path to them from the east instead of descending a thousand feet only to have to reclaim the lost elevation and more as I climbed back up the mountain to the glacier-scraped granite valley that held the lakes.

The second route turned out to be just as untenable as the first.  I spent several minutes looking for a safe path through the unstable talus slope that would allow me to skirt the edge of the mountain and drop down into the golden trout lakes, but the slope was so unstable that I decided not to get any closer let alone try and navigate my way through it.  All I could do was shake my head and return the way I came, back to my camp near Misty Moon Lake in Wyoming's Bighorn Mountains.

Nearly four hours after breaking camp in the grey of predawn I made my first cast to a wilderness trout.  I spent the next ten hours working four different lakes in an entirely different drainage than I had originally set out to fish, missing a handful of strikes before I stopped trying to set the hook so quickly and managed to land my only trout of the day.

Ten hours of fishing for only a handful of strikes and a single trout might seem excessive, but when your alone in the wilderness for the single purpose of fly fishing it makes the moment magical.

A golden trout from the Fortress Lakes of the Cloudpeak Wilderness

My forthcoming book, Wyoming Mountains & Home-waters: Family, Fly Fishing, and Conservation, holds tales of chasing golden trout in the Cloudpeak Wilderness and much, much more.  You can find information here; want updates and news on it and other books coming from Sage Creek Press? You can signup for our newsletter on the website.
Until next time,
Cheers & Tight Lines,
Brad




You can find me at:
email-books@sagecreekpress.com
Twitter- @ConserveTrout

Monday, July 24, 2017

Wyoming Mountains & Home-waters

In anticipation of the upcoming release of my book, Wyoming Mountains & Home-waters: Family, Fly Fishing, and Conservation, I'm pleased to be able to share with you  this week the cover art for the book.  As we get closer to publication I will continue to share additional materials.




Interested in my forthcoming book?  You can find information here; want updates and news on it and other books coming from Sage Creek Press?  You can signup for our newsletter on the website.
Until next time,
Cheers & Tight Lines,
Brad

You can find me at:
email-books@sagecreekpress.com
Twitter- @ConserveTrout

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Time for Native Trout Conservation is Now!

The summer 2017 issue of Trout magazine from Trout Unlimited, couldn't be more timely.  The entirety of the issue is dedicated to addressing the value and conservation challenges associated with maintaining native trout in a world that is undergoing rapid environmental change.

My own forthcoming book, Wyoming Mountains & Home-waters: Family, Fly Fishing, and Conservation, is based on not only recognizing the need to conserve native trout, but offers two solutions for ensuring that the remaining diversity of native trout found in America are given a fighting chance for survival.

Decades of toil for the conservation, protection, and remediation of coldwater habitats have allowed trout and angling, regardless of tackle, to flourish.  But, as we enter planet Earth's sixth great extinction we must re-calibrate and focus on the need to conserve native trout over the behest of wild trout, which are typically species that have evolved elsewhere in the country (or world), stocked in waters outside their home range, and have flourished, much to the benefit of anglers like myself.
A native Yellowstone cutthroat trout from Wyoming's
Bighorn Mountains

In Wyoming Mountains & Home-waters, I argue that if we are to ensure the survival of our remaining native trout (two species- the Alvord cutthroat trout and yellowfin cutthroat trout- have already been lost to extinction), we must take concrete steps to remove wild trout from some waters in order to make room for natives to return to their home-range.  The second argument I present is, in a world of global environmental impacts that often manifest at the local-level in the waters we love to fish, we must adjust our view of coldwater conservation to embrace the entire ecosystem from waters, to forests, to sagebrush steppe.  The forthcoming book provides personal stories, examples, and concrete details for how we can accomplish these goals and give trout native to some of our favorite waters a chance for survival in a rapidly changing world.

A second native Yellowstone cutthroat trout from
Wyoming's Bighorn Mountains

Interested in my forthcoming book, Wyoming Mountains & Home-waters: Family, Fly Fishing, and Conservation?  You can find information here, want updates and news on it and other books coming from Sage Creek Press?  You can signup for our newsletter on the website.

You can find me at:
email-books @sagecreekpress.com
Twitter- @ConserveTrout



Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Lost Twin Lakes- Part 2

The Cloudpeak Wilderness rewards anglers who push just a little bit farther.  For my first backcountry trip of the year I decided to hit a trailhead I knew well- the West Tensleep trailhead in Wyoming's Bighorn National Forest.  Instead of following the familiar path to Mirror Lake or the inviting meadow oxbows that parallel the trail's ascent, I pushed to the trails terminus at the Lost Twin Lakes.

Trail into the Lost Twin Lakes.  The lakes are located
below the cliffs in the distance.
 I decided to spend two nights in two separate valleys in order to sample the fishing along both tributaries to Middle Tensleep Creek.  The first evening, after backpacking in, I camped just shy of the last stream ford on the way to the Lost Twin Lakes.   I found the small, but incredibly deep, meandering stream filled with mountain brook trout.

Tributary to the Middle Tensleep Creek.
Brook trout filled pool.  Notice how full the stream is and
how much cover is available on the stream bottom.
The next morning I broke camp and pushed into the next drainage that's home to the lakes that were my ultimate goal for this trip.  After setting up camp in the valley (there is no camping around the Lost Twin Lakes themselves), I spent the remainder of the day exploring both the upper and lower lakes.
The upper Lost Twin Lake.
The fishing produced a Yellowstone cutthroat trout bonanza.  While dry fly fishing was slow to produce results, stripping a small streamer was a sure bet, particularly just at the edge of the shallow-water shelf that transitioned into the lake's unseen depths. There was also plenty of opportunity to sight fish for large cutthroat trout cruising just feet offshore.

Sub-alpine fir and Engelmann spruce clung tenaciously to the thin soils above 10,000 feet on the lake's northern shore.  After fishing my way to the outlet stream, stopping to take pictures of the alpine waterfall just below, I decided to boulder-hop my way to the south end of the lower lake in order to climb to the upper Twin.  Pole in hand, I spent 45-minutes jumping from boulder-to-boulder, moving up and down slope to avoid the remaining snow fields and their hidden dangers, before reaching the upper lake near its outlet.

A native Yellowstone cutthroat trout in spawning colors.
This beauty came from the peninsula on the upper Lost Twin lake
Ice was plentiful on the upper Twin, and the views were just as dramatic as from below.  The roar of the high altitude snowmelt spilling off the highest slopes increased the feeling of intense wilderness solitude.  The wind tearing across the ridge a thousand feet overhead sounded like a freight train crossing the talus and scree slopes adding an eerie sensation to the lonesome lakes.

 I spent most of my time on the upper lake fishing from a massive granite peninsula that extended well into the waters below the cliffs on the east side of the lake. Stripping a small streamer off the barren stone promontory proved effective, but the big trout waited until I tied on a size 12 Copper John and suspended it about six feet below a strike indicator.  After a few hours spent working all sides of the peninsula and with the sun indicating it was time to descend, I again boulder-hopped my way back down from the upper lake and around the lower Lost Twin back to flat ground.
A beauty of a wilderness Yellowstone cutthroat trout.

Cloaked in cliff shadows all day I'd failed to realize just how warm the day had become above 10,000 feet.  Making my way back to camp I found every crevasse and ephemeral drainage running full with snowmelt.  The trail I followed in to the lakes was impassible, having become a foot-deep melt-water conveyance.

After dinner I spent my last evening in the wilderness casting to Yellowstone cutthroat trout in the valley below the lakes.  With all the late afternoon runoff the stream was nearly bank-full and what were once wet meadows were now impassible quagmires.  Nevertheless, I was able to land a handful of colorful native trout on dry flies drawing the day to the perfect close.

My forthcoming book, Wyoming Mountains & Home-waters: Family, Fly Fishing, and Conservation describes the challenges and rewards found fishing Rocky Mountain wilderness.  You can find information here- want updates and news on it and other books coming from Sage Creek Press?  You can signup for our newsletter on the website.

You can find me at:
email-books@sagecreekpress.com
Twitter- @ConserveTrout

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Lost Twin Lakes- Part 1

For this short Independence Day week here is a short blog post on pure American wilderness.  The pictures below are from last weekend's backpacking trip into the Lost Twin Lakes located in the Cloudpeak Wilderness of Wyoming's Bighorn Mountains.  Brook trout and native Yellowstone cutthroat were plentiful, the former in tributary streams, the latter in the lakes themselves.

Enjoy the pictures, more to come on the trip next week!
Cheers & Tight Lines,
Brad

Trail into the Lost Twin Lakes, Cloudpeak Wilderness,
Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming




View from my tent.  The lakes are located below the cliffs.
The lower Lost Twin Lake

Ice on the lower Lost Twin Lake

A beauty of a Yellowstone cutthroat trout.



Interested in my forthcoming book, Wyoming Mountains & Home-waters: Family, Fly Fishing, and Conservation?  You can find information here, want updates and news on it and other books coming from Sage Creek Press?  You can signup for our newsletter on the website.

You can find me at:
Sage Creek Press
email-conservationflyfisher@gmail.com
Twitter- @ConserveTrout
Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/conservationflyfishing

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Rebirth of a Childhood Fishing Hole

Remember that place where you went to fish as a kid that no matter the weather or time of day always produced fish?

My special fishing hole when I was a kid was along the stream below the family cabin in the Bighorn Mountains.  A wide bend in the creek filled with a series of deep pools around the outer bank was my trophy hole; it was also my childhood boundary for fishing without adult supervision when visiting the cabin.

No matter where I began fishing on the stream I would always finish by casting my fly along the placid waters of the bend.  Its glass smooth surface and occasional deep hole (often with an ancient tree trunk buried deep within it) always hid brook, rainbow, and the occasional brown trout.  I never left the stream without a fish in my creel if my patience held out.

Returning to my favorite childhood fishing hole after a decade-long absence, I found it changed from the vision of a trout haven pictured in my mind's eye.  Seasonal high-flows had reshaped the stream above the bend in the creek, turning it into a warm and shallow backwater filled with thick mats of algae.

This last winter was one of the worst (or best depending on how you judge such things) we've had in thirty years.  This year's runoff was powered by an immense snow-pack that sent sping floodwaters ripping off the mountain.  This last weekend was my first trip to the family cabin and I found the creek running high for this time of year, but I also found my childhood fishing hole in the bend of the creek returned to life.  The snowmelt waters scoured the algae from the cobble and deepened portions of the stream beginning to fill with silt and sand.  For a few days the hole returned to its childhood glory.

By the end of the trip the fate of the hole was evident.  Watching the high water visibly receding it became obvious that the coming summer low flows are going to return the bend to its dreary backwater status.

Nature is ever changing, but for one weekend I got to experience the same thrill on one of my favorite fishing holes like I was ten years old all over again.
Until next time,
Cheers & Tight Lines,
Brad

Interested in my forthcoming book, Wyoming Mountains & Home-waters: Family, Fly Fishing, and Conservation?  You can find information here, want updates and news on it and other books coming from Sage Creek Press?  You can signup for our newsletter on the website.

You can find me at:
Sage Creek Press
email-conservationflyfisher@gmail.com
Twitter- @ConserveTrout
Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/conservationflyfishing


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wyoming Mountains & Home-waters



From idea, to book, to independent publisher

Between April and December of last year I wrote a series of blog posts sharing how I "accidentally decided to write a book".  More than half-a-year after that last post I'm sharing where that endeavor stands today.

At no point in my life have I ever thought of myself as an entrepreneur, yet here I am.  My passion for fly fishing, conservation, and ecology have brought me to the doorstep of self publishing, which without at least a modicum of entrepreneurial spirit, is destined for failure.  My book, Wyoming Mountains & Home-waters: Family, Fly Fishing, and Conservation, is a labor of love such that even at times when I attempted to walk away from it, I could never bring myself to fully given up on its story and message.  I was drawn back to the keyboard, at times mentally kicking and screaming,  to continue writing.  However, a year ago I thought the project was dead.

I spent nearly a year trying to sell the manuscript to publishers and literary agents, there were nibbles of interest to be sure, but in the end all decided to pass.  For several months I gave up on the project and tried to move on.  I even tried to make peace with the outcome on a backpacking trip in the Cloudpeak Wilderness of Wyoming's Bighorn Mountains.  What I realized instead was that in trying to sell my book to established publishing companies, I was equipped with the knowledge necessary to, at the least, get the book out the door as an independent publisher.

Looking into Wyoming's Bighorn Mountains.
I organized a company in January 2017, Sage Creek Press, to become my professional writing and publishing outlet.  For months prior to that my research into self publishing took me everywhere but back to the keyboard.  I delved into the nuances of small business administration, marketing, and of course the publishing process itself.

Since committing to self publishing, Wyoming Mountains & Home-waters has been though several rounds of developmental, line, and copy editing.  Today, it is with Createspace as they help me develop the cover art and layout the interior.  Once all this is done it will go to a proofreader for the final review before publication.

The journey from wannabe author to self publisher is far more exciting than I ever expected.  So much so, that I'm already considering what it would be like to help other authors launch their works. But that's a story for a different day.

Interested in Wyoming Mountains & Home-waters: Family, Fly Fishing, and Conservation?  You can find the story behind the book and a description of the book itself at Sage Creek Press.  Want more than what you find there?  Sign-up for my newsletter that will offer news, updates, and exclusive promotions to subscribers.
Until next time,
Cheers & Tight Lines,
Brad

You can find me at:
Sage Creek Press
email-conservationflyfisher@gmail.com
Twitter- @ConserveTrout
Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/conservationflyfishing

Monday, June 12, 2017

Today's Conservation is Really About the Kids

School has ended and summer has dawned. It's time for kids to return to the outdoors!  Just this last Saturday, June 3rd, it was take-a-kid-fishing day here in Wyoming.  It was also a day when anyone could fish, even those without a license.

Our local Game and Fish Department employees brought numerous activities to our local ponds, introducing kids to the fish they would have the opportunity to catch as well as providing lessons on outdoor recreation, conservation ethic, and basic biology.  Having two little ones of my own I can appreciate the youngest of those in attendance finding these activities to be only an impediment to catching the trout stocked for the day's enjoyment.  But, for a few, the biology, recreation, or ethics lessons might be that spark that kindles a passion years later, and when added to the joy of fishing, is all it takes to reintroduce a digital generation to the outdoors and their natural resource heritage.


Last Saturday was for the kids, but then again isn't all of it, really?  Arguments about conservation, like all things lately, have succumbed to the hyperbole and over-heated rhetoric that dominates today's discourse.  And lately things feel very much like they've been turned upside down, and as though the environment could be thrown under the bus for nothing more than short-term political gain.  At times like this its easy to forget that, while there's always a sense of gratification that comes from participating in conservation, such efforts are less for us than they are our children.  Sometimes it takes a little boy or girl squealing in delight as they reel in a flopping, wiggly fish to remind us of what's really at stake and why its worth fighting for.

Until next time,
Cheers & Tight Lines,
Brad

You can find me at:
Sage Creek Press
email-conservationflyfisher@gmail.com
Twitter- @ConserveTrout
Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/conservationflyfishing

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Public Land Development, Protection, and Public Access

National Monuments Matter

Let me begin today by saying, I despise the 'slippery slope' cliche.  This is the argument that is being made right now as the Interior Department undertakes a presidential ordered review of all national monument designations since 1996.  The fear underpinning the 'slippery slope' argument is that rescinding the status or even reducing the acreage of our national monuments amounts to nothing less than a direct attack on public access to public lands.  While I believe the simplistic 'slippery slope' cliche fails to capture the true threat to sportsmen access to undeveloped public lands, I wholly agree with the logic that underpins the argument.


The vast majority of public lands in the United States are open to resource development, whether it be logging, mining, grazing, or oil & gas development.  Most development takes place on Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management (BLM) managed lands.  The subset of public lands set aside as national parks, national monuments, wildlife refuges, wilderness or some other form of conservation land-use designation are dwarfed in comparison to those open to development.

To remove or reduce national monument status to those lands to which it has been bequeathed is a slap in the face to all sportsmen and women!  The loss of conservation lands, for all intents and purposes, is permanent.

Chances are good that if you're reading this blog you are a part of the sporting community.  Take a look at your favorite places to hunt and fish then ask yourself, just how protected are they? Concerned?  Then I suggest you contact your favorite outdoor club/ organization and ask what position they've taken on the issue.

Your voice matters in sustaining your access to your public lands!

Until next time,
Cheers & Tight Lines,
Brad

You can contact me at:
email-conservationflyfisher@gmail.com
Twitter- @ConserveTrout
Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/conservationflyfishing

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Trout Won't Wait on Climate Change Politics

The politics of climate change is filled with turbulence, but the impacts of a warming world are on display for all to see-- if you choose to look.

If you've followed the science of climate change and its impacts you've likely seen numerous reports, news columns, or even articles in your favorite fishing magazine speaking to the impacts of climate change on trout and salmon.

California recently released a report to add to your growing compendium of fisheries related impacts from climate change titled, "State of the Salmonids II: Fish in Hot Water".  As stated on the report's website, "at the current rate, 45% of California's salmonids are likely to be extinct in the next 50 years."

Given today's announcement by the President that the United States is going to withdraw from the Paris Accord, I'm going to keep this post short and finish with this thought: science is not an ideology, it is the foundation upon which we develop the knowledge to understand our world.

Until next time,
Cheers & Tight Lines,
Brad

You can contact me at:
email-conservationflyfisher@gmail.com
Twitter- @ConserveTrout
Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/conservationflyfishing

Monday, May 15, 2017

Enormous Open-pit Mine in Bristol Bay Headwaters Returns from the Dead

A proposed massive open-pit gold mine in the headwaters of Bristol Bay, one of the world's most productive salmon fisheries, has returned to life after being declared too destructive to permit in 2014.

Under the Obama administration the EPA determined that the impacts associated with the proposed Pebble Mine were far too detrimental to Bristol Bay and its salmon populations, and prepared a draft rule to utilize the agency's ability under the Clean Water Act to deny the mine a permit necessary for construction.  Mine proponents sued and last week the Trump administration settled with the mining companies allowing them the opportunity to resurrect the mine.  See Trout Unlimited's site on Bristol Bay and the potential impacts of the Pebble Mine for more information, as well as the EPA's site dedicated to Pebble Mine.
Until next time,
Cheers & Tight Lines,
Brad

You can contact me at:
email-conservationflyfisher@gmail.com
Twitter- @ConserveTrout
Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/conservationflyfishing


Monday, May 8, 2017

Lessons from a Fishless Day on the River

My fly fishing skills lag far behind my passion for the sport.  I spent the Wyoming winter perusing monthly magazine articles filled with new techniques for honing my skills and developing a larger repertoire for catching fish while waiting for spring to arrive.

I spent Friday afternoon on the Northfork of the Shoshone River-- exactly one day late. I found the river rushing and filled with sediment as this year's runoff began even though my coworker assured me that the water was "only a little high" the day before.

The highway that leads to Yellowstone National Park's east entrance parallels the Northfork of the Shoshone River for most of its length.  Keeping a wary eye on the elk, deer, bighorn sheep, and bison near the road, I searched for the waters my coworker assured me were still fishable.  All I found were silt-laden, snow-melt waters churning down the river.  I refused to concede defeat and drove higher and higher up the valley in search of waters I could safely wet my line in.

Much of the Northfork of the Shoshone is seasonally closed to protect spawning runs of the native Yellowstone cutthroat trout.  The stretch of river between where it enters the Buffalo Bill Reservoir west of Cody, Wyoming up to Newton Creek are encompassed in the closure.  The seasonal closure was a partial relief as I watched the roiling water on my way up the valley.  Ascending the valley I eventually found water that, while off-color, was less so than lower in the valley.  Nevertheless water levels were still too high and swift to even think about wading into.

I didn't even give a thought to tying on a dry fly; instead I began working the soft water near shore with a rubber-legged woolly bugger.  When this failed to produce any results I switched to a bead-head copper John, which also failed to produce any strikes.  In the little time I had left on the water I switched to my favorite fly- the Alexandra wet fly.  I stripped the bright colored fly through the soft water in the 200-yard stretch that I kept myself contained to as I tried different types of flies and my new  magazine-garnered skills, but like my previous two attempts received no strikes to reward my efforts.

Friday turned out not only fishless, but without even so much as a single strike; however, I consider it a heck of a productive day.  The tough conditions helped shape my frame of mind so as to make the afternoon a learning episode.  I tested new methods of fly fishing along with trying flies I typically wouldn't even give a second thought.  Even though I didn't catch a single fish I established a great foundation for expanding my angling repertoire in both easy and challenging conditions thoughout the remainder of this year's fishing season.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Fly Fishing and the Endangered Species Act

As I wrote in a previous post, the Endangered Species Act is coming under assault in the 115th Congress.  This last week E&E News reported that bills were introduced in both the House and Senate that would fundamentally undermine the protections currently offered under the Endangered Species Act.

Here are a couple of elements contained in the bills as reported by E&E News:

Senate file S.935 would automatically remove species on the threatened and endangered species list after five years, regardless of status or success.  Additionally, S.935 would require the Fish & Wildlife Service, the administrators of the Act, to "obtain the consent of governors before making management decisions that would affect species within their states," thereby undermining the stated purpose of the act to protect threatened and endangered species and the ecosystems upon which they depend,  and essentially gutting the Endangered Species Act of its very relevance.
A Yellowstone cutthroat trout. 
Like all cutthroat trout,it has been petitioned 
to be listed under the Endangered Species Act in the
 recent past.

This is not to say that the there are not improvements that can be made to the Endangered Species Act.  But, what we don't need are short-sighted "fixes" to the landmark legislation that carry all the hallmarks of political expedience at the cost to the whole of society as we continue to lose more and more species to extinction.

To keep this in the purview of angling, two American species of trout have already been lost to extinction- the yellowfin cutthroat trout and the Alvord cutthroat trout.  This is two species too many in an era when nearly all native trout are under siege.
Until next time,
Cheers & Tight Lines,
Brad

You can contact me at:
email-conservationflyfisher@gmail.com
Twitter- @ConserveTrout
Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/conservationflyfishing

Sunday, April 23, 2017

That First Childhood Fishing Trip

I was throwing rocks into the water beneath the hot springs infused, travertine encrusted terraces along the Bighorn River in Thermopolis, Wyoming, when my step-father called me over.  He handed my his fishing pole that he'd rigged up with worm and sinker.  Immediately my little hands felt the tremendous tug from the unseen fish holding in the deep water.

Brad circa 1986??
Eyes wide and mouth agape, I stood there unsure what to do.  Without hesitation my step-father told me to use the reel.  Following his instructions I was rewarded with renewed resistance from the fish at the other end.  Time stopped in those next few moments as I fought to land my first fish.

A squeal of childish delight ripped across the rushing waters of the Bighorn River as the fish, closing in on shore, rolled to dive towards deeper water.  Its tail slapped the surface surprising me and sending a beautiful shower of droplets in all directions.  My wonderment was only increased when we brought the beautiful rainbow trout to hand.  Even after placing the fish in the creel to take home for dinner, I continued to sneak peaks at it, amazed at its size, colors, and general... fishiness.  That was the day I became hooked on fishing.


Do you remember your first fishing trip?  What about the pole?  Tackle and bait?  Surely the location is forever burned into your memory?

Share your first fish story in the comments section below, there are few fish tales better than these.

Cheers & Tight Lines,
Brad

email-conservationflyfisher@gmail.com
Twitter- @ConserveTrout
Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/conservationflyfishing

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Conservation Angler

Today my Fly Fishing and Conservation blog becomes The Conservation Angler.  You may have noticed over the course of the last few years my writings on this blog have spanned a number of topics that, while tentatively relating to either fly fishing or conservation, have done so only in the thinnest of fashion.  I've found that keeping my posts specifically tied to either fly fishing or conservation stifling, and many times I've jettisoned the theme altogether.

Re-titling the blog as The Conservation Angler provides me a much wider latitude for writing about the issues that I find important or germane to both the sport of fly fishing and conservation at their broadest.  Already in previous blog posts I've covered topics that include pollution, climate change, wolf conservation, public land management, and public access to public lands.  Relaunching the blog with the new title will free me to engage a broader array of topics without working to tie them back to the themes of fly fishing or conservation specifically (something which at times I've already abandoned, but not without a sense of consternation).



So with no further wasted words, welcome to The Conservation Angler blog!  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.
Cheers & Tight Lines,
Brad

email-conservationflyfisher@gmail.com
Twitter- @ConserveTrout
Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/conservationflyfishing

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Wedding of the Waters, Bighorn River, Wyoming

My guides for the day warned me that the water was running high, but so were my spirits so I paid it no mind.  This was going to be my first float of the Bighorn River and I wasn't going to let the prospect of high water ruin the day.

My two guides had over forty years of experience on the Bighorn River between the two of them;  launching from the boat-ramp at the Wedding of the Waters near Thermopolis, Wyoming, both were already schooling me on how to fish the river before the boat was even in the water.  This would be "chuck-n-duck" fly fishing they told me.  A double-fly rig with lots of weight, even more than usual they noted, as the river that had been running at around 900 cfs had nearly doubled to 2000 cfs a few days earlier.

The Bighorn River was running crystal clear even though the water was high.  Hardly a cloud in the sky marred the day as we spent eight hours on the water floating, wading, and fishing.  Even for a first outing of the season the day pushed my fly fishing skills to the limit.  I had never cast a rig with so much weight and I quickly found that my 5/6 weight rod was not particularly well suited to it. I was tangled far more than usual, often as a result of equal parts poor casting as from misreading the loading of my rod.

My two guides, gentlemen that I work with, proved themselves of the highest character as they switched between rowing, fishing, and untangling or helping me re-rig all day long.  Of course, good-natured ribbing was in order as I allowed my wrist to break on the first cast of a new rig and immediately ensnared the tip of the rod with line, leader, and tippet.  And this was only one of many, many snarls over the course of our eight hours together on the water.  I tell you, they were indeed men of the highest character.

The high flows pushed the trout out of their typical holes to pod up in areas of soft water.  They also seemed far more interested in the small scud imitations tied below our larger hares ear or pheasant tails.  In the end we brought six fish to net between the three of us with yours truly bringing a single brightly colored rainbow to net, which was all I needed to be completely content with the day's outcome.

Eight hours of fighting through tangles and snarls of almost all my own making was completely worth it for that one beautiful rainbow trout on a perfect mid-March day on the Bighorn River.  And for those entire eight hours I didn't take a single picture- it really was a good day!

Cheers & Tight Lines,
Brad

email-conservationflyfisher@gmail.com
Twitter- @ConserveTrout
Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/conservationflyfishing

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Grey Wolf Recovery Continues

After considerable legal wrangling grey wolf populations in Wyoming have joined those in Montana and Idaho as being removed from the protections of the Endangered Species Act.  Just as when they were originally delisted in 2013, the state of Wyoming is preparing to open hunting and trapping seasons for wolves, but recovery of the species will march on.

After the initial reintroduction to Yellowstone National Park in 1995 and 1996, the species has made a remarkable comeback from the brink of extinction in the lower 48 states.  Recovery has been achieved in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, while wolves have established new packs in Washington and Oregon.  The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service grey wolf recovery webpage notes that up to 200 wolves in 34 packs now occupy Washington and Oregon as of the end of 2015 .  There are reports that wolves have begun to recolonize northern California as well.  And to top that all off, the first wolf in 100 years was confirmed in Nevada in November 2016.

The Endangered Species Act rewrote the rules of how society chooses to share our amazing landscapes with other species, even apex predators like the wolf.  It is a new chapter in what, until the last half a century, has has been a decidedly bloody relationship.
Until next time,
Cheers & Tight Lines,
Brad

email-conservationflyfisher@gmail.com
Twitter- @ConserveTrout

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Wolves Removed from the Endangered Species Act- again

The fate of grey wolves in Wyoming may be the single most contentious debate to have ever gripped the state.  Battles that erupted here in my home state have raged since the reintroduction of the wolf to Yellowstone National Park in 1995/1996.  The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service attempted to delist the species previously with the decision moving back-and-forth between the courts since 2011.  A brief article on the delisting can be found here and here.

More to come soon.
Cheers,
Brad


email-conservationflyfisher@gmail.com
Twitter- @ConserveTrout

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Whither the Endangered Species Act?

What a difference a few years can make in conservation.  In 2014, the country celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Today, there's an immense amount of uncertainty as to whether the act, hailed by none other than the United States Supreme Court as "the most comprehensive legislation for the preservation of endangered species ever enacted by any nation," will survive the 115th Congress.

Weakening the landmark legislation has long been the goal of politicians that see the ESA as nothing more than an impediment to economic development.  There is little argument that listing of a species as either threatened or endangered imposes restrictions on habitat necessary for the survival of the species- this is one of the greatest strengths of the law.  However, it has become fashionable to dress arguments for weakening the legislation not under crass economic arguments, but in perceived efficacy of the law.

A hallmark of the arguments for weakening, or outright repeal, of the law is that so few listed species have been removed from the protections provided under the ESA.  My own home-state senator, John Barrasso published an op-ed in local papers this week making just such a claim.  What this argument grossly overlooks is that today we're in the throws of the globe's sixth great extinction and it took society far more than forty years to get in to this predicament. The extinction crisis predates even the industrial revolution.  Take a look at David Quammen's Song of the Dodo to get an understanding of how effective humankind has been in driving species to extinction prior to the rise of modern society.

Given the centuries over which the extinction crises has unfolded, why would we expect that recovery of threatened and endangered species in the U.S. to be somehow completed in only 40 years?  This is the question at the heart of the counter-argument to Senator Barrasso's op-ed.  The answer is that the argument for weakening or repealing the Endangered Species Act isn't about the rate of successful recovery of threatened and endangered species at all, its about the law's restrictions on economic development and land use.

So reviled is the ESA in some political corners that if there is going to be an organized push to weaken or abolish the law it will come during the 115th Congress, while the party that is anathema to the legislation's goals  control the levers of power in both houses of Congress and the White House.

Wait, you say, doesn't anything in the U.S. Senate require 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, thereby serving as a check on repeal of the Endangered Species Act?  Yes, you're right, which is why I believe the 115th Congress is where we will see the death of the filibuster in the U.S. Senate.  So despised is the ESA by many in the Republican Party, that I can see  an outcome where they change the rules of the Senate with a simple majority vote, just as Democrats did in 2013, but instead of weakening the filibuster as Democrats did previously, the Republican majority will abolish it all together.  Such an outcome will not only allow for the majority party to unilaterally destroy the Endangered Species Act, it will also destroy the institution of the U.S. Senate as a bastion for the minority, an ideal that has been maintained since the establishment of our country.
Until next time,
Cheers & Tight Lines,
Brad

email-conservationflyfisher@gmail.com
Twitter- @ConserveTrout
Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/conservationflyfishing

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Science, Alternative Facts, and Fly Fishing

If you've perused either print or TV news for even a few minutes in the last half-a-year, you know that we've entered an era that has been dubbed "post-factual."  It would be easy to simply shrug one's shoulders and laugh off the absurdity of such an assertion, but doing so would in effect turn a blind-eye to the implications this has for hunting, fishing, and conservation.

Whether as a sportsmen you involve yourself in conservation or not, science underpins your opportunity to partake in either angling or hunting.  It has become fashionable in our politics to simply make up statements that fit our world-view regardless of their grounding in facts or reality.  This sets dangerous precedent as it lays the foundation to unravel the hard-fought gains hunters and anglers have made in conserving species and protecting and restoring habitat.  

There is a moral imperative that we reject this "post-factual" paradigm.  Political persuasion is irrelevant in this environment.  Failing to reject "post-factualism" deprives sportsmen and women the ability to hold public officials accountable for the decisions they make.  It opens the door for politicians to reject, out of hand, the science on which conservation of species and habitats takes place and we, as voters, enable that type of unhinged decision-making if we, even tacitly, accept the "post-factual" paradigm.

Jane Lubchenco, former head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), penned an excellent editorial speaking directly to the scientists whose work is undermined in this "post-factual" environment.  When science is undermined for political expediency, sportsmen lose, as decision-making grounded in science is no longer the gold-standard for species and habitat conservation.

I finish today's post by calling on you, as an angler, hunter, hiker, nature lover, but above all as a voter, to 1) reject the entire concept of "post-factualism" 2) recognize "fake news" for what it is and hold politicians accountable for labeling fact-based journalism as fake news, and 3) above all, remember that its an honor for a politician to receive your vote- make them earn it!

Cheers & Tight Lines,
Brad

email-conservationflyfisher@gmail.com
Twitter- @ConserveTrout
Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/conservationflyfishing

Monday, February 6, 2017

Yes, Climate Change is Impacting the Sport of Fly Fishing

In my last post I dipped my toes in the water of the connections between angling and climate change. Today, we're going to continue down that road just a little farther and talk about how climate change may impact the waters you love most.

One of the most difficult things to wrap our heads around is how climate is different from weather and then, how changes in climate, rather than weather, might impact us directly.  Well, lets take a look at what climate change might mean for trout fishing.

If you live in the Mountain West, like I do, there are a variety of ways climate change is already impacting trout streams and rivers.  First, cold winter days are getting warmer and their are fewer of them.  This means that the snow-melt that feeds my favorite streams melts off earlier in the year and more quickly.  In turn, this increasingly stresses trout (and all other aquatic biota from invertebrates on up the foodweb) during late season low flows.   The outright dewatering of stream reaches all together is likely to sharply increase as this trend continues.

The hottest days can, and in many areas across the country have been, getting hotter.  This sends the likelihood of drought skyrocketing, which has numerous impacts not only for the waters we love to fish, but also the forests, grasslands, sagebrush steppe, etc., through which our favorite waters flow. In short, a continually warming climate undermines the resilience of both our fishing haunts and the the uplands through which they flow.

Bison in Yellowstone National Park


Opposite of drought, but related to a warming climate, is an interesting event I first encountered while conducting research for my doctoral dissertation in northern Montana.  Warmer winters have led to an increase in rain-on-snow events where, when the air is warm enough during the winter, precipitation falls as rain rather than snow.  This creates a huge potential for flooding when rain falls on previously fallen snow, melting said snow, and all the water that would normally slowly melt during the spring and summer comes barreling off the mountains at one time.  This produces two detrimental impacts to our streams.  First, the floods scour waterways and their floodplains during the winter when the ecosystems are least prepared to absorb the impacts of flooding.  Second, the water that is released in a massive winter pulse is water that is lost for slow release throughout the remainder of the year.  The first time I saw this was when I was visiting the town of Choteau, Montana in the winter of 2010 and discovered the town park under water after having recently seen a recent rain-on-snow event.

As you can see, the way in which climate change impacts manifest themselves is as varied as the locations in which we live.  In turn, there are multiple pathways in which climate change can impact our favorite waters and the sport of fly fishing.  But, sadly, we've barely scratched the surface of how climate change is reshaping our favorite fishing spots and the sport of fly fishing.

Bison in Yellowstone National Park
Contrary to popular belief combating climate change is not a Sisyphean task. From the grassroots to the international community there are efforts underway to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change.  Likewise, efforts to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases we put into the atmosphere span all levels of civil society.  All of this, in conjunction with the conservation activities that we undertake in support of our favorite waters, forests, parks, sports, and species provide the foundation for the successful preservation of the places we love most in the world.

I'll close today's post with this thought- climate change and its impacts on the sport of fly fishing is a potentially huge topic.  I'm debating whether or not to circle back around to the topic again soon.  I would appreciate any thoughts you have  on whether or not this is something you'd like to see additional posts on in the near future.  Finally, directly below are a couple of links to primers on climate change.  They are both good introductions to the topic.

Online Climate Change Resources




Until next time,
Cheers & Tight Lines,
Brad

email- conservationflyfisher@gmail.com
Twitter- @ConserveTrout