Here are five things to think about as you get ready for the weekend–hopefully you’ve got the fly rod out of the closet and have a nice, cool (emphasis on cool–you’ll see why in a minute) stream in mind for some casting:
1) In southeast Alaska, there’s always been a just-beneath-the-surface conflict between the effort to harvest the region’s valuable timber resources and the effort to protect the salmon that depend on intact forest habitat for spawning and rearing. Lately, we’re seeing some progress, as the effort to protect the Tongass National Forest by branding it as America’s Salmon Forest (and there’s really no better name for it) includes putting former timber cutters to work in the salmon and conservation business. This is good news as folks in Southeast try to juggle the uses of both resources and how to go about harvesting both of them in a manner that’s sustainable and economically renewable.
2) Last week, TU hosted its second annual blogger tour–this year, the event was held in Yellowstone National Park, where a handful of bloggers got to take part in the effort to kill non-native lake trout in Yellowstone Lake, and to see first-hand the efforts under way by TU, the Yellowstone Park Foundation and the National Park Service to restore native cutthroat trout to the waters of this iconic park. Enjoy this video that contains some real blood-and-guts footage of the lake trout eradication effort.
3) Speaking of Yellowstone, while the TU Blogger Tour was in the park, we learned from NPS lead fisheries biologist Todd Koel that, if the hot, dry weather continued, the Park Service would have no choice but to close the Firehole, Madison and Gibbon rivers to fishing within the park–all popular road-side fisheries. The Firehole, which is enhanced by thermal flows all year long, was flowing at a balmy 78 degrees, and the Madison and Gibbon weren’t much cooler. Trout start to feel stressed when water temperatures climb into the 60s. Seventy degrees can be fatal. No telling what 78 degrees has done to the Firehole’s prized brown and rainbows.
Sure enough, shortly after we finished our tour, the closures went into place.
4) TROUT Magazine editor Kirk Deeter stirred the pot this week–but in a good way–when he asked TU blog readers if catch-and-release fishing is overhyped. Like most dedicated fly fishers, I’ve become a catch-and-release devotee over the last 20 years or so, but my decisions on whether or not to keep trout now and then have, in just the last few years, become more sophisticated. For instance, I live in Idaho, where brook trout are non-native and are quick to outcompete native cutthroats. What’s more, brookies tend to overpopulation small waters, and then the entire population becomes stunted. In short, I keep brookies. Sometimes, keeping fish is the best thing you can do as a conservation-minded angler.
5) Finally, just a friendly reminder–please don’t take fish, especially non-native fish, from one watershed and put them in another. We’re seeing the obvious impacts–both ecological and economic–of such actions in Yellowstone Lake, where lake trout were illegally introduced in the early 1980s. Now, a great fishery in southwest Colorado–Miramonte Reservoir–is seeing the impacts of some hare-brained decision by a “bucket biologist” to put smallmouth bass in the trophy trout fishery. The result–the state will have to zap the entire fishery and start over again. Not cool.
- Chris Hunt