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Fall FALL 20 20


Ethical Fall Angling

by Landon Mayer

The Legendary Gunnison River


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High Country Angler • Fall 2018


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Copyright 2017, High Country Angler, a division of High Country Publications, LLC. All rights reserved. Reprinting of any content or photos without expressed written consent of publisher is prohibited. Published four (4) times per year. To add your shop or business to our distribution list, contact Frank Martin at D i str i buted by H i gh Countr y Publi cati ons, L LC 730 Popes Valley D r i ve Colorad o Spr i ngs, Colorad o 809 1 9 FA X 719-593-0040 Published in cooperation with Colorado Trout Unlimited 620 Sixteenth Street, Suite 300 Denver, CO 80202

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Fall 2018 • High Country Angler


Ethical Fall Angling

by Landon Mayer 6

High Country Angler • Fall 2018


hile working on my latest book project, The Hunt for Giant Trout: 25 Top Locations in the US to Catch a Trophy (December 2018), I was reminded of why I love the sport of fly fishing… specifically, sight fishing to large trout. In my journeys around the U.S. while sharing time with some of the best anglers and guides in the nation, a common conversation came up: How do we protect these massive trout and ensure the future generations can grow to eye popping proportions? I personally think sharing knowledge is one of the best ways to give back in fly fishing, and education on how to avoid spawning trout is an extremely important topic. You can kill an already exhausted fish by hooking it, run the risk of harming spawning beds and eggs, and as spawning trout are not feeding, fowl hook them. This does not mean that you cannot effectively catch large trout during the spawn, you just need to adjust the where, when, and how. Not only will this lead you to more success on the water, it is satisfying to know that you are doing your part in protecting the spawn. Below are some helpful tips in prominent ethical angling this fall:

Pre Spawn A key piece of the puzzle in timing trophy trout is knowing when to look, and timing the early stages in pre-spawn is not easy. This is when an angler earns their stripes by paying dues and covering water in search of gold. Yes, you will have many days under your belt where the fish are simply not in, but know this, you will at some point also be the first to encounter a giant at its largest size, and literally untouched by human hands! I begin hunting for early swimmers months before the spawn. Remember, it takes time for these gems to find suitable ground and cover a lot of water to get to spawning areas. This time of year requires a lot of swimming, as well as a lot of rest, so staging in deep runs, under cut banks, eddies, or simply deep slow-moving water is key. It’s like a swimmer relaxing in the hotel after a race; the fish need time to recover. They also need food to continue the journey. This is why you can have such a good chance at landing a pig: they are hungry, usually sharing deep runs with their targets, and they are not as wary as they will be once they remain in a less hidden environment

Fall 2018 • High Country Angler


for a while. Once you locate staging grounds, know that while there, fish in waves will use the same “room” to relax during the trip. Next is timing the bite for a prespawn trout. It is common for anglers to think of big attracting flies to trigger a strike, but remember, the fish are on the move and not as aggressive as they will be three months down the road. I am a fan of matching the food from the water they came from, not the water they are in. For example, if they swam up from the ocean, there is a good chance that they will react to an ocean-dwelling baitfish imitation like a Clauser Minnow, surface/bottom insect, or other aquatic life.

Post-Spawn After the spawn is over, the trout that participated in the reproduction efforts are depleted of nutrition and need to gain back body mass they have lost. Immediately after the spawning cycle is over, the trout can be skinny and not as exciting to pursue, but this does not last long. Within a few weeks, the fish begin packing back on the pounds, and heal from any battle scars. This is when you can seriously hook some of the largest trout using every discipline—my favorite being the streamer bite. While trophy trout can be lazy by nature, they are opportunistic and know that it is worth chasing down a big meal to put weight on fast. Think of it like a grizzly bear packing on as much size and fat before hibernating for the winter. You are dealing with a starving predator, so you want to cover a lot of water each day of fishing the post-spawn, and most importantly, you want to target ambush points in the river and still water where a giant trout could hold and not expend 8

High Country Angler • Fall 2018

energy until the victim is within striking range. Areas like undercut banks at the tailout of a river run, or structure nestled on the edge of a drop line from shore on a lake, are two of my favorite target zones. Try timing this bite a few weeks after the spawn for two months, and you, too, will become a fan of the post-spawn bite.

Don't Tredd on Me Well this brings us to the term “Don’t Tredd on Me!”—the quote made famous by the company Fishpond USA to show awareness in avoiding the unethical practice of stepping on spawning beds that can be filled with new eggs. This includes drifting flies to fish which most of the time do not feed, but are simply be-

ing flossed with the flies and tippet going in between the jaws like floss between teeth. The harmful part in catching the trout is that while the fish are spawning, they lose an incredible amount of body weight, and are stressed to begin with. By hooking these active trophies, you truly run the risk of killing the fish, and the eggs on the bed. It is tempting to cast when you see the largest subject ever on that watershed, and anyone who does not admit that is lying. It is more gratifying to watch and know that the future is being protected. Secondly, you want to avoid wading in spawning grounds even after the trout are gone, to prevent crushing the incubating eggs. In fact, many rivers that offer long riffled runs with 2-3 inch cobblestone are closing down these

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stretches during the spawn to prevent the fish from being cast to, and redds being walked on. I encourage you to share and spread the words to others, so we all can do our part to ensure the future of giants in rivers and still water worldwide.

Selecting the Right Species Targeting trout during the spawn can still be an effective way to ethically catch fish; in fact, it can lead to great rewards if you target the trout that are not spawning, but have come to take advantage. For example, in the fall, big rainbows, cuttbows, and cutthroat will be exposed to flesh (from a salmon) and eggs. They can grow to very large proportions due to the extended diet beyond bugs, an occurrence enjoyed by the great state of Alaska.

Fall 2018 • High Country Angler


Another advantage to not targeting the spawning trout is that the trout which are not spawning are often not seen by other anglers, and are therefore not as pressured. This will produce great results with less wary trout that are heavy on the feed behind their tired, thinning counterparts. Try this the next time you

find your day on the water smack dab in the middle of a spawn, and you will not only have more successful days, but will be doing your part to ensure the safety of future wild baby trout. Pre orders for my new book are available on my home page at HC

About The Author Landon Mayer is a veteran Colorado guide and author of several books, including 101 Trout Tips: A Guide’s Secrets, Tactics, and Techniques-Stackpole/Headwaters Books. He has co-produced 2 fly fishing DVDs with John Barr, both available from Mad Trout Media. Visit Landon’s website at and follow him on Instagram @landonmayerflyfishing.


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Fall 2018 • High Country Angler


Browns, ‘Bows Gorging Along Gunnison by Brian La Rue


High Country Angler • Fall 2018

Fall 2018 • High Country Angler



ishing the Gunnison is always a pleasure. From the upper reaches and the gorge to the Lower River near Hotchkiss, you can always expect a banner day on the water. With fish counts climbing to 8000 fish a mile, I had to give the Lower Gunnison a float with a friend of mine this late July---Outdoor Channel’s Matt Stoll, and a couple of great guys from Gunnison River Expeditions. We met at Pleasure Park, where we were introduced to Gavin Green and Keaton Kropp, our guides for the day on the water. After a nice breakfast at the bar, we loaded up and shoved off. Keaton quickly back-rowed up to the confluence of the North Fork of the Gunnison, where the warmer off-color water flowed into the main stem and its 56- to 59-degree water—a nice change from the dangerously, highwater temperatures found around much of the state this summer. We threw an articulated streamer, and a 14-inch brown found one of the hooks on the seam of the mixing waters. The articulated motion on the strip was the hot ticket, but the seam, despite a quick start to the day, yielded the solo fish so we let the flow slowly sweep us downriver and switched up to throw some dries. The dry-eating browns dominated the take for the next few riffles and bends as a caddis and parachute Adams combo worked well. Skating the patterns at the end of the drag-free drift produced more grabs and quick catch- and- releases. The av-

erage brown ran 14 to 16 inches, but it wasn’t until we switched to a Chernobyl ant that we rolled some sizable fish. After about a dozen more hook-ups, we tied that ant on, figuring it was getting warm and they would now be a little more aggressive. First cast, a 16- to 17-inch brown took the ant in front of a river-side boulder. The fish came out of 6 inches of water in the shade to blow up the size 6 ant. After a quick photo and release we continued down the river where we again met up with Matt and Gavin. We managed a few more browns on the way to a spot where the water was boiling with Trico eaters. We flipped a few flies at them, but those fish weren’t having it. A golden eagle was also on the prowl and we watched it while we took a breather. Around the next bend, the golden eagle had landed on a bluff and was beginning to eat something. Twice Keaton and I could see a snake arching up to strike at its killer. The eagle won and we are guessing, bull snake, became his brunch. Soon, we found numerous more browns on the ant as fish after fish exploded off the shallow banks for the tightly-placed meal. By now we had simply lost count of our fish and we too were thinking about a meal. We pulled over to a bank with a huge shade tree and enjoyed a catered lunch. While we were eating, we couldn’t resist a side channel and sure enough, a nymph rig with Pat’s Rubber Legs proved to be a

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High Country Angler • Fall 2018

Fall 2018 • High Country Angler


changing his angle and throwing the fly. Umpqua’s Sparkle Wing RS2 continues to amaze me—year-round! Then we continued our float down the river. Matt was hitting a few here and there with his nymph rig and I was playing with another handful of smash and grabbers as they were hitting the ant but not committing to it. Later at dinner, Keaton commented on one nice fish that played beachball with my ant. “You remember that brown that came up, nosed the ant, then swung around and missed it on the second try?” asked Keaton. “That was only the second time that a fish in that spot has showed itself this year. That would’ve been the fish of the day if he had taken the fly. I bet you that brown is 24 to 25 inches.” Oh well, can catch them all! We lost count on the day, but I’d have to guess we landed upwards of 40 fish with another 25 long-line releases and simple hot choice. After a filling lunch, we continued down river where Stoll went with a nymph rig to slay a ton of fish and start his assault on the Gunnison. Having only fly fished a couple times, it was cool to see him nailing 15- to 18-inch browns—one after another, as the ant bite slowed a bit. At one point, the guys took us to this massive pool where we waded and targeted the fish with nymph rigs. Before I threw a nymph out, I had to try a thick foam mat with the hopper and sure enough, a head came bashing through, but I just couldn’t stick the hook. The pool, fished with nymph rigs, produced two dozen grabs with 12- to 17-inch browns. The fish of the day at that point was probably a rainbow I hooked. It hit near the end of the 20yard drift, so the upstream hookset wasn’t possible—he jumped twice, showing us his beautiful colors before 18

High Country Angler • Fall 2018

misses. It is always amazing to see the numbers of fish on a stretch of water like this. It was a great day and should only be getting better! “Late Summer and Fall is a great time to fish as the hopper season is in full swing,” said Kropp. “It wasn’t lights out today, but they are definitely starting to hit the ant and it will only get better in the next two months.” Check it out! Reach out to the guys at Gunnison River Expeditions and plan a trip today. Next on my bucket list: an overnighter in the gorge during the salmon fly hatch. Go check out the Gunnison, fish it from top to bottom and make some new friends, HC yourself!

About The Author High Country Angler contributor Brian La Rue enjoys giving fly fishers ideas of where to go for an adventure. Feel free to reach out to Brian at if you want your lodge or guide service featured in an upcoming promotional marketing plan.

Fall 2018 • High Country Angler


Giving Back to the Gunnison in Snow,Rain, or Shine by Jesse Kruthaupt


t’s a legendary fishery, a gem, a river that has been on the must-get-to list for anglers from across the country for decades. As legend would have it, the Gunnison River was a favorite of Teddy Roosevelt, who frequented the Upper Gunnison Basin to fish its pristine waters. Much has changed in this valley in the last century, but the Gunnison’s legendary fishing remains a principal base for the community and the valley’s rural economy. Every day and night, the Gunnison river flows into, through and around obstacles. These obstacles are natural and manmade. In 2018, the river has tumbled through the 4th driest winter on record. Yet, each day it continues to provide us the opportunity to enjoy, reflect, thrill, drink and grow. It is not surprising that Trout Unlimited has been rooted in


High Country Angler • Fall 2018

the Upper Gunnison Valley for 49 years. The Gunnison Angling Society (GAS) was founded on December 5, 1969 and since that time members have been driven with the TU mission to conserve, protect, and sustain the Gunnison and its tributaries. Most recently GAS has contributed cash and volunteer labor towards the Gunnison River Riparian Rehabilitation Project. This project was managed by the City of Gunnison with design and oversight from Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The goal of the project is to improve bank stability and in-channel habitat on a popular segment of the river near the town of Gunnison. The first phase of this project involved restoring two unstable “push-up” irrigation diversions with two beautifully constructed rock cross vanes, improving inchannel habitat with rock clusters, and stabilizing several seg-

Fall 2018 • High Country Angler


ments of compromised bank. This phase of the project was completed in the spring of 2018. Shortly after the final rocks were set, GAS and the Gunnison Soil Conservation District organized a group of Western State Colorado University students to visit one of the restored segments to learn about the new structures, plant seedlings on an exposed cobble bank, and harvest willow stakes for a future volunteer group to plant. It was a day in mid-April and there was finally some snow in the forecast. We all had high hopes that this storm would produce what others hadn’t. Dan Brauch, CPW’s Gunnison Aquatic Biologist, led the group through the stations starting at the newly constructed cross vanes, boulder clusters and a wood-toe, while explaining the benefits these engineered features provide for trout and geomorphic function. Snowflakes began to fall when the group moved on to digging holes for willow and cottonwood seedlings. A buzz of excitement could be felt as the much-needed moisture watered the planted seedlings. Slowly the spring blizzard set in, flakes started to accumulate on the ground, and soggy hat brims began dripping water. Dan demonstrated how to properly select, clip, and store willows to optimize survival once they are staked back in the ground. There was no complaining, no rushing, just smiles and the chatter of conversation when buckets full of willows, water and gravel were loaded and transported to CPW’s walk-in cooler to stay dormant. 22

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Unfortunately, that storm didn’t amount to much, and we rolled into June with stream flows well below average and a meager outlook for the coming summer. GAS had a second volunteer workday lined up that was coordinated with the annual Colorado Trout Unlimited Youth Camp. GAS was pleased to have the Youth Camp as guests in the valley, and eagerly put the campers to work. GAS board president Briant Wiles met the campers and walked to the Gunnison River as the sun blazed on a crystal blue day. Again, this group stopped to talk about the newly-constructed cross vanes, boulder clusters, and the woodtoe. A buzz was again in the air as the campers watched for the occasional rise on the caddiscovered water. Discussion on the relationship between riparian health, channel function, and the fishery were interrupted by, “Oh, there was one! That was a nice fish!” and “Who brought their rod?” The enthusiasm for fishing quickly turned into dripping sweat as these young ladies and gents went to town digging holes and hauling buckets of water to give the newly-planted riparian forest a fighting chance. The rest of June and first part of July continued to be hot and dry. Stream flows were nearing record lows and anticipation for rain was at an all-time high. A group of volunteers for the Gunnison River restoration project had been organized in coordination with CTU, RRAFT, and the Can’d Aid Foundation. This work day had a slightly different spin. The group starting the day by cleaning up trash on a

erty recently purchased by Gunnison County, that will serve as a new boat ramp and public park. From there, volunteers piled on rafts and floated through segments of river that were recently restored until stopping at a large cobble bank to again get willows and cottonwoods into the ground. The air was hot and thick as thunderheads bloomed to the southwest. Dips in the river were as numerous as the trees planted. A crack of thunder and swirl of wind brought in the first couple drops of rain. This time the buzz was static from the nearing storm. With hustle and a bit of scrambling, buckets, boxes, and shovels were tied down onto the raft, to voyage ahead of a torrent of rain that would soak over 400

trees that volunteers had worked so hard to give back to the river. Each one of these volunteer groups had their chance to experience the Gunnison River on a unique day with a unique element of nature. Participants gratefully faced the snow, blazing heat, and torrents of rain to have the opportunity to provide all they could to the Gunnison River. This enthusiasm, along with partners like CPW and the City of Gunnison, who developed and carried out the Gunnison River Riparian Rehabilitation Project, will ensure that the Gunnison’s legendary waters will continue to provide for future anglers—through snow, rain or shine. HC

About The Author Jesse Kruthaupt is the Upper Gunnison Project Specialist for TU’s Western Water and Habitat Program. Raised in the Gunnison valley he has been able to appreciate the Gunnison River and its tributaries since 1982.

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Fall 2018 • High Country Angler


Trout Smart Series: Brown Trout


hat is fly fishing if not a childlike game of war? We maneuver and position, count off our successful campaigns in the notches scratched into the cork of our rod, and then each return to our respective homes in time for dinner.  Like in war, however, the one who claims victory at the end of the day is the one who knows their opponent best.  In Sun Tzu’s 5th century tome of military strategy, the Art of War, he repeatedly states the importance of knowing your opponent, understanding their motivations, where they take refuge, how to lure them from cover, and how to turn their arrogance and strength against them.  The Trout Smart Series is the angler’s guide into the mind of the trout.  Species by species, we will break down the intricacies of brown, brook, rainbow, and cutthroat trout, allowing you to successfully battle with each in turn, until you will need to replace the cork on your rods for all the victory notches that have been added.


High Country Angler • Fall 2018

Fall 2018 • High Country Angler


Identifying Characteristics Perfectly camouflaged for the shadowy depths and algae-covered river bottoms where they lurk, the back and sides of the brown trout vary in color from golden brown to dark silver. The abdomen of this species is a light gold to yellow, while the flanks of the fish are spotted with red to orange dots surrounded by light silver halos.  The tail of the brown is slightly forked and is either void of spotting or faintly spotted.


High Country Angler • Fall 2018

Range & Habitat Native to Europe, Central Asia, Scandinavia, and Northern Africa, the Brown trout (Salmo trutta) was first introduced to the United States in 1884 when it was stocked in the Baldwin River in Michigan. The popularity of the brown as a sporting fish saw it quickly spread across the US, with reproducing or stocking supplemented populations being found in all but three states. Among the trout and salmon species found in the US, Brown trout are among the most reclusive.  Preferring the deepest and most sheltered sections of the river, brown trout will typically be found in the head to middle sections of pools, deep undercut banks, or tucked in close to large cover such as boulders, tree snags, and root wads.  It is from these points

Fall 2018 • High Country Angler


of relative safety and seclusion that the brown trout spend the daytime hours, allowing them to rocket from cover to take a piece of food before retreating back to their haunts. As the sun sinks in the evening, the trout will rise in the water column, cruising the shallows in search of larger prey throughout the night.  

Feeding Behavior & Foods Cue the JAWS soundtrack when you decide to chase brown trout on the fly. These alpha predators employ guerrilla-war-like tactics, ambushing their prey and then retreating into cover.   When threatened or hooked, brown trout will dive deep, darting into the current or cover in the attempt to entangle or break off the offending hook and line.  The diet of brown trout is largely made up of aquatic invertebrates through the first 2 years of their life, while terrestrials begin to make up a sizable portion of their diet in their 3rd year.  It is also in the 3rd year, when the brown trout reaches 12-14 inches in length, that large prey species such as minnows, baitfish, crayfish, and young trout come onto the menu.  The larger and older the brown trout get, the stronger their preference for these high calorie, large prey species grows.


High Country Angler • Fall 2018

Vulnerabilities 1. Knock on their door - Brown trout are easily tempted by big meals presented close to their chosen piece of cover. A large grasshopper pattern dropped close to an undercut bank, or a heavily-weighted stonefly nymph dragged through the depths of a pool will often be too tempting a prospect for the brown to let pass by.  Getting a good drift where the browns won’t have to chase the food is of paramount importance.  Brown trout can be overconfident when close to home, and that sense of security can become their undoing. 2. Night Ops - As the sun sinks, the big browns leave their cover and go on the prowl for large prey.  Fishing large profile nymphs, streamers, and even dry mouse patterns through the night will give you access to the biggest browns in the river! 3. Dumbstruck Love - When water temperatures drop between 44 - 48°F each fall, the brown trout prepare to spawn and become careless.  Like frat boys in the bar at last call, browns looking for love become aggressive, reactionary, and will snap at streamers and annoying attractor patterns that enAbout The Author croach in their space.   While we NEVER target trout that Peter Stitcher is an Aquatic Biologist are actively spawning or sitting and owner of Ascent Fly Fishing. on their redds, egg patterns, Originator of the Biologist Crafted Fly attractor nymphs, mouse patSelection, Peter and his team build their terns, and streamers can all clients’ fly selections specific to the bugs produce explosive strikes and in the waters they fish, when they fish tons of fish in the net. them. You can contact Peter or restock your fly box at: www.ascentflyfishing. com.

Fall 2018 • High Country Angler



A Challenging Summer for Anglers


or Colorado anglers, 2018 has been a closures on the Roaring Fork and Colorado, and challenging year. High temperatures, everybody responded really positively to that sustained drought, forest fires and message. All the outfitters realize that despite mudslides all have significantly impacted our the short term impacts everyone suffered fisheries and put trout under tremendous throughout the valley; for the health and future stress. During periods of low flows and high of our fisheries and our businesses, we had to water temperatures, it’s gratifying to know that take that stance.” Further north, the Yampa River also members of the Colorado Trout Unlimited family have acted responsibly to protect and experienced seasonal closures due to high temperatures and low stream flows. Once sustain the resource. At various times this summer, rivers such as again, local outfitters recognized what needed the Yampa, Roaring Fork, Colorado and Rio to be done and vocally supported the closures. Grande have been under seasonal or voluntary Johnny Spillane, co-owner of the Steamboat closures, with support from TU Chapters, Flyfisher, put clearly: “You have to respect the local outfitters, Colorado Parks & Wildlife and fishery. When it is time to put the rods away, or thoughtful anglers. We at CTU particularly fish somewhere else, do it! There is no need to appreciate the leadership of many of our state’s over-stress and kill fish.” There’s no denying that the summer of 2018 guides and outfitters in protecting our fisheries— even at a cost to their own businesses—by has been tough all around. The good news reducing pressure on fish in certain at-risk is that fall is rapidly approaching and lower temperatures are sure to return. I hope you waters during periods of high temperature. For example, in late June/early July, members are making plans for some fall fishing on one of the Roaring Fork Guide Alliance, concerned or two of your favorite rivers or streams. As about local water temperatures, pulled part of your preparations, please reach out and together with CPW to establish voluntary patronize your favorite guides/outfitters; show fishing closures from 2 pm until midnight for your support to those Colorado businesses that the Roaring Fork River from Carbondale to actually “walk the walk,” and help protect the Glenwood Springs, and on the Colorado River fisheries we all enjoy. HC Go wader up! from State Bridge to Rifle. Demonstrating their leadership and commitment to sustaining their local fisheries, Roaring Fork Guide Alliance members treated the “voluntary” closures About The Author as mandatory. As Will Sands, Cam Chandler is the President of Colorado Trout Unlimited manager of the Taylor Creek Fly and a past president of the Cutthroat Chapter. Shop, described it: “We came together with CPW to enact the


High Country Angler • Fall 2018

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Fall 2018 • High Country Angler




Good Sam’s Time is Now


one of us will forget the day an orange plume of mine pollution slowly snaked its way through the Animas River and downtown Durango. We won’t forget the hum of the news helicopters as the world turned its attention on Southwest Colorado, or the uncertainties the spill raised about the quality of our water. It was a day we wouldn’t wish on another community. Unfortunately, the problem of water pollution from leaking mines is pervasive. In Colorado, there are 13,000 miles of stream listed as impaired from acid-mine drainage and heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, and mercury. Across the country, that figure rises to 110,000 miles. These streams and rivers are important to fish, wildlife, and drinking water supplies. In fact, 52 percent of these polluted waters fall in sub-watersheds important to drinking water. In many cases, the source of that pollution comes from one of the hundreds of thousands of abandoned mines across the West. These are mine sites that have no party responsible for cleanup. Why not just clean them up? Liability and cost, mainly. It is estimated that the cleanup cost for abandoned mines could be as high as $73 billion. And while state and federal governments have worked to clean up some sites, there are more toxic messes than hands to clean them. But, in an unintended twist, current law essentially prohibits organizations who specialize in river restoration – Good Samaritans such as Trout Unlimited – from tackling these polluted sites. As written, the law says if you touch the mess you could own it forever, creating liability most 32

High Country Angler • Fall 2018

organizations and landowners cannot shoulder. And as state and federal budgets get tighter, the dollars and hands to clean these sites dwindle. So they remain, year after year, dumping pollution into our waterways. As an angler and conservationist, and as a Coloradan who’s proud of our state’s outstanding outdoor quality of life, that diminished status quo is unacceptable to me. Moreover, as a business owner whose livelihood – like many others employed in Colorado’s booming outdoor industry – depends on healthy rivers and habitat, I want to make sure we’re protecting the natural resources that drive our economy and make our state and region the envy of the world. What if we could tackle even a small percentage of the festering pollution plaguing our rivers and streams? Who wouldn’t want to start making our water cleaner? Thankfully, we may soon have an opportunity to overcome the complicated legal hurdles and get to work on these mine cleanups. Colorado lawmakers have long led the charge to fix this conundrum, and Congress will soon be considering Good Samaritan legislation. This commonsense change to our laws would help us make measurable improvements to the quality of our water by allowing qualified organizations to clean up abandoned mines. Good Sam would not be a free pass to any Joe with a backhoe. Being permitted to clean up abandoned mines would be a thorough process, and Good Samaritans would be held accountable to terms of permits issued by the EPA. Nor would it be a pass for irresponsible mining

tices. Good Sam would uphold the Clean Water Act for polluters while allowing bona fide thirdparties to clean up abandoned mines where a responsible party cannot be identified. Passing Good Sam would be a creative solution to addressing the widespread impacts of abandoned mines in Colorado and across the West. While we are at it, we’ll be creating good jobs, healthier habitat for fish and wildlife, and more certainty that our water quality is not impaired by hazardous waste seeping from a mine portal. Durango residents know as well as anyone the devastating impacts water pollution can have on

a community. We have bipartisan agreement in Congress that Good Sam could make a real difference in addressing the ticking time bomb of mine pollution. Let’s seize this opportunity and protect Colorado’s water, fish, and wildlife and communities by passing Good Sam this HC year.

About The Author Jim Bartschi is president of Scott Fly Rod Co. based in Montrose.

A NAME YOU CAN TRUST At TIC, every project we build becomes part of our history and reputation. Our employees are committed to building work as careful stewards of the environment — after all, we work in our own backyard as much as we do yours.

A Kiewit Corporation Subsidiary

TICUS.COM Fall 2018 • High Country Angler




Jefferson Bridge


h yeah dude, they’ll be sipping off the top for sure,” the twentysomething behind the fly shop counter enthused. His buddy nodded. “Yeah, totally. Sipping for sure.” Shuttle arranged and following their directions, we drove the short distance to the boat ramp on the edge of town, the last traces of cool leaving the blue and gold of a Montana morning. Several vehicles were already parked in the lot. Three drift boats sat at anchor against the shore immediately downstream of the ramp, their occupants engaged in last minute rigging and stowing. “Let’s launch and hang out upstream till these guys clear out,” suggested Cave. Boat launched, we rowed a short distance upstream and dropped anchor, thirty yards below where a concrete bridge spanned the river. It seemed like a good time to open the beer cooler. Already, there were fish rising just below the bridge, as well as out toward the middle of the river in a barely discernible eddy line coming off one of the bridge supports. “Give ‘em a go, mate,” Cave suggested. I eyed the risers warily. Bridge fish tend to be smart fish. Every tourist and his dog has probably thrown a fly at them already this summer. They’ve likely seen every bad drift and poorly presented fly known to humankind. There was likely a reason why the other anglers, all of whom 34

High Country Angler • Fall 2018

sported local plates on their vehicles, hadn’t bothered with them. On the other hand, what if the young fellas in the fly shop were wrong, and these would be the only risers we’d see all day? Against my better judgment, I took up my rod. I decided to try for the fish working the eddy line out towards the middle of the river. If I hook one, I reasoned, I’d be able to play it close to the boat and not spook those upstream. I stood and fed out line, guessing the distance between myself and the fish, and laid down my first cast...a little short. I stripped off another three feet, picked up and cast again, working the extra line out. On my last back cast before laying the line on the water I snagged a tree behind me, high up the bank, just like a tourist. Cave sniggered. Thankfully no one else witnessed my amateurishness, but I had to break the fly off and retie. Confidence shot, I next turned my attention to the feeders upstream, still rising in two feed lines about four feet apart. With nothing behind me to hinder my line this time, I cast under the bridge to the outer feed line. The fly landed clumsily in a cluster of leader and tippet, drifting down through the feed line unmolested. I waited a couple of minutes, and noticed that since my duff cast, no fish had risen again in the feed line. “Didn’t like that,” Cave offered helpfully. I thanked him for his powers of observation, and turned my attention to the inner line, which still showed regular dimples. This time my cast

landed delicately about three feet above the main cluster of risers. Perfect. As I squinted into the glare of the morning sun, my fly was only visible when descending the back sides towards the troughs of the small waves. It disappeared from view in the glare. I saw a rise near where I thought my fly should be, and set. I felt a momentary pull on the other end, then nothing. All rising stopped. My mother had washed my mouth out with soap for language far milder than I unloaded right then. Cave sniggered. Three casts, three screwups, three different ways. “Let’s wait a few minutes and see if there’s one fish in the river

I haven’t managed to put down.� I sat and reached for my beer. Across the river the countryside rose in steps, from floodplain to rolling golden hills that merged into fingers of green forest and finally, etched against sky and cloud, peaks of bare rock, grey and pointed. Water lapped gently against the hull of the boat. We finished our beer. The water beneath the bridge remained free of risers. Hauling up the an- HC chor, the tourists floated downstream.

Hayden Mellsop Fly ďŹ shing guide. Real Estate guide.

About The Author Hayden Mellsop is an expat New Zealander living in the mountain town of Salida, Colorado, on the banks of the Arkansas River. As well as being a semiretired fly fishing guide, he juggles helping his wife raise two teenage daughters, along with a career in real estate.


Fall 2018 • High Country Angler


By Dick Jefferies

Beer & Fish: A Great Combination for the Poudre F

or several years, the Rocky Mountain Flycasters chapter in the Ft Collins/Loveland/Greeley area has been educating our local community that conservation efforts of Trout Unlimited are about more than fish. Protecting, restoring and reconnecting aquatic habitat are the mission core of Trout Unlimited. However, while these activities are beneficial to sustaining healthy populations of trout, they also provide other benefits. Healthy trout habitat provides high qual36

High Country Angler • Fall 2018

ity water to recreationists, industrial and municipal water users, and agriculture. Furthermore, heathy forests and riparian areas are better able to extend runoff times. In the end, healthy fish habitat provides multiple downstream benefits. For this reason, we began sharing the message – “If it’s good for fish, it’s good for people!” Odell Brewing in Fort Collins has become a valued friend of Trout Unlimited. They recognize the benefit their business derives

from low cost, high quality water. Equally important, they realize most of their patrons enjoy and recreate in the environs we are so committed to protecting or improving. Over time, while visiting with the good folks at Odell, we tweaked our motto about fish to be specific to the friendship – “If it’s good for fish, it’s good for beer!” Recently we received an invite to come into the brewery and craft a beer celebrating TU and specifically the implementation of the

long-awaited Poudre Headwaters Greenback Restoration Project – an initiative to restore native trout to nearly 40 miles of the Poudre headwaters. We were thrilled by this opportunity. On May 30th, members of Rocky Mountain Flycasters and US Forest Service met at Odell Brewing to craft the new beer. While many of us coming to help craft the beer enjoy the postproduction product, none of us were well-schooled in the details of making beer. Our first decision was to decide on type and flavor profile of the beer. Following discussion, we settled on a lightly hopped pilsner with tones of mountain sage and wild currant. The two-row barley used in the pilsner paid homage to the agricultural community

Fall 2018 • High Country Angler



High Country Angler • Fall 2018

from which the Poudre project has evolved (core funding for the project has been provided by the irrigators who own Long Draw Reservoir in the project area). Mountain sage and wild currant added two flavors native to higher elevations. In keeping with a high mountain stream theme, we settled on a name for the beer – Cold Water 1. The name refers to a grading system used by the State water quality agency to describe aquatic habitat. Cold Water 1 references the highest level of stream water quality. Cold and fresh - just as we hoped the beer would be. Marni Wahlquist, a head pilot brewer at Odell Brewing, was a delight to work with. She guided us through every step of the approximate six-hour brewing process. This was not all work and no play. The brewing process involves cooking and batching times where you simply must wait for a cycle to complete. Odell accommodated us with a brewery tour and some beer sampling during our wait times. Another wait time was spent enjoying the culinary

greatness of the daily food truck. All in all, it was a great experience, even though upon our departure we realized just how long the five weeks were going to be until we could sample the result of our efforts. Fast forward to July 1st. A warm, sunny day - perfect weather for the Cold Water 1 release party at Odell Brewing. It was the ideal kickoff for the next three months – through September – during which TU is the beneficiary of Odell’s partnership contribution program at their Ft. Collins location, with half of the funds they raise going to the Poudre project. While the party was scheduled for 1 pm, I was determined to be at Odell when they opened to insure a chance at the first draw of

our newly crafted beer. I admit to a bit of paternal anxiety as I awaited holding this newborn. As with newborns, surprise is borne from fully appreciating the initial nuances of appearance, feel and yes, smell. Was I expecting a plum colored beer? No, but after thinking about the currant we introduced, it made sense. The taste? While not a beer aficionado, I find it to be refreshing, lightly hopped, a bit fruity but not overpowering, with a hint of sage on the nose after swallow. Except for color, I think it is everything we were expecting. Cold and fresh! Just like beer should be. Just like streams should be. It is a beer that reminds us all – If it’s good for fish, it’s good for HC beer.

About The Author Dick Jefferies is the Vice President of Colorado TU and a past president of the Rocky Mountain Flycasters Chapter.

Fall 2018 • High Country Angler


Dams and Reservoirs: Bad for Fish? by Cary Denison, Brian Hodge, Kevin Terry, and Richard VanGytenbeek


any fishermen view dams and the reservoirs behind them as a detriment to cold water fisheries. While some dams do create productive tailwater trout habitat, dams can produce many negative effects as well: dams block fish passage, they can create water temperature and quality


High Country Angler • Fall 2018

issues, they sometimes drown productive stretches of rivers, and they often harbor non-native species that can impact the fishery above or below the impoundment. Additionally, dams alter the natural flow patterns in rivers and streams, often to the detriment of cold water fisheries.

Despite those detriments, however, water storage facilities play an important role in water management in the West, especially as we face increasing demands and a warmer and drier climate. With few exceptions, the dams and reservoirs scattered across the West will not be going away any time soon. It’s not all bad news though, as Trout Unlimited is working with reservoir operators to develop ways to reduce impacts to fish and in some cases improve flow conditions downstream. TU and willing reservoir operators have used a number of approaches to improve downstream flows. 1. Reducing Water Demand. If demand for water from the reservoir is reduced, water can be held in storage and released to the stream when it is most beneficial to the fishery. For example, in the case of a reservoir that stores water for irrigation, it may be possible to reduce the

ter demand by improving irrigation efficiency, changing crop type, or reducing consumptive use of crops through a voluntary and compensated conservation effort. With reduced demand, water could be held in the storage reservoir and released when most beneficial to the stream. In 2018, on the Cimarron River in Colorado’s Gunnison Basin, TU collaborated with the Bostwick Park Conservancy District and Colorado Parks and Wildlife to re-time water releases from Silverjack Reservoir to keep the river from running dry during the summer months. More importantly, the District and TU are working toward large scale piping project that will reduce seepage and system loss. These improvements will result in lower releases from the reservoir during the irrigation season and further increase options for flexible management of Silverjack reservoir water. Fall 2018 • High Country Angler


2. Leasing or Purchasing Water. Oftentimes, whether because water demands have been reduced or for other reasons, it is possible to lease the unallocated water for release to improve stream flow conditions. For example, this summer the Colorado Water Trust and Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District reached, for the sixth time in seven years, agreement for the purchase and release of water from Stagecoach Reservoir. This summer’s reservoir releases, which were funded by TU, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, and others, served to increase flows during a critical time of need. 3. Re-timing Water Deliveries. Another approach is to work with reservoir managers to restructure the timing and volume of storage releases. Reservoir operators release water in certain amounts and at certain times to meet the purposes of the reservoir. By understanding these purposes, TU can propose alternative release patterns that benefit stream flows while

continuing to meet the needs of the water users as well. In Colorado’s Rio Grande Basin, for example, over the course of several years, TU became intricately familiar with the operations of Rio Grande and Platoro Reservoirs, and the needs of the water users who depend on those reservoirs. Based on this keen understanding, and our close personal relationships with the water users, we were able to propose an alternative management scheme that meets the needs of the water users while improving flows in the Rio Grande and Conejos Rivers, when historically the reservoirs have passed little to no water at all. Existing reservoirs are an important part of water use and management in the West. Trout Unlimited is working with water managers throughout Colorado and the West to improve water management and storage releases in a manner that improves habitat HC conditions for cold water fisheries.

About The Author Cary Denison, Brian Hodge, Kevin Terry, and Richard VanGytenbeek are National staff with Trout Unlimited, coordinating projects and participation on water management in the Gunnison, Yampa, Rio Grande and Colorado river basins through the Western Water and Habitat Project.


High Country Angler • Fall 2018

Fall 2018 • High Country Angler


Stunning and Stocking by Jack Bombardier


High Country Angler • Fall 2018


esterday was one of the most rewarding days of my life. Alongside other Trout Unlimited volunteers, I got the privilege of carrying nineteen rare cutthroat trout up a wildflower-filled valley into Colorado’s high country, to be released into the wild and hopefully to propagate as well.  It was the third time I’ve been lucky enough to help Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) this year, and they’ve all been interesting. The first volunteer day occurred in April, doing the annual fish census on the Eagle River. It’s part of an annual fish count that’s over twenty years old, designed to monitor river health after a mining spill that occurred in the 1980s.  The process of doing a river census involves spanning the river from bank to bank with three rows of netters. The members of the first row (usually the biggest, burliest guys) hold a device called an electrode in one hand, and a long-handled boat net in the other.  Each member of the first row are connected to each other by an electric cable, and they have by far the toughest job, since both of their hands are occupied and they have no way to steady themselves in the swift current flowing over slippery round river rocks.  The second row follows right behind, trying to snag the stunned fish who tumbled past the knees of the first row.  The third row catches those the second row misses, and also drags

floating fish corrals behind them. Eventually all of the netted fish get brought to another corral-type enclosure that’s set up near the bank, where the fish are counted and their sex and species noted. I help out with this every year, since I find it pretty interesting to see everything that is swimming in a river.  As a fly angler, I only get to see that which will take a well-presented fly.  When you electroshock the river, you get to see everything in there that swims, and not just the trout.  These include whitefish, chubs, dace, and my personal favorite, sculpins.  Its often said that healthy trout populations are a good indicator of a healthy river, like a canary in a coalmine, but that is even more true of sculpin.

My next opportunity to volunteer came in May - electroshocking again, but this time on the Colorado River not far above my home. Shocking a river the size of the Colorado involves doing it from a boat, not standing in the cold water.  The rafts themselves have frames that are purposefully designed for this exact task, with diamond plate decks and railings that extend out over the front so that two netters in the bow can lean over and capture the stunned fish.  The electric shock is delivered by an electrode mounted on the end of a boom that is lowered into the water. Between the netters and the rowers sits a live well, and as fish are netted the netters swing the nettees around and into the live well.  When the live well

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Fall 2018 • High Country Angler


gets full, we row over to the bank, where each fish is measured. It was fun to be out on a section of river that I know well, and to be able to net the fish without having to stand in their cold environment. As we drifted downstream, we passed a large bald eagle nest right beside the river.  This spring there were four eagles living in the nest, two big mature eagles and two fledglings.  Instead of flying away they hung out to watch, and they were soon to be rewarded for their curiosity.  Almost all of the fish we caught were released back into the water as gently as possible, with the exception of long-nosed chubs.  Those fish are considered invasive non-natives, and they got tossed onto the bank after they were counted. The eagles caught onto that quickly.  No sooner would we push off the bank than they would swoop down, grab am unfortunate chub, and carry it off for a one-way ride to their big nest.  The eagles were clearly loving this, it was Christmas time in May for them.  Even though the process of surveying the fish must be much less fun for them than it is for those netting them (and way less than for the eagles), there’s a very good reason to be doing this.  In the past year I became part of a stakeholder group trying to come up with a plan to ensure the longterm health of the Colorado River, and surveys like this are critical to coming up with data to objectively measure where we are now and where things are going. 46

High Country Angler • Fall 2018

Then in July, I got to participate in a third volunteer opportunity: planting genetically pure Greenback Cutthroat Trout into a high mountain drainage that had been readied for their arrival. The project is part of a multi-year effort to raise Greenbacks – which had been reduced to one wild population just a few years ago - and transplant them into other watersheds.  Having all of your genetic eggs in one geographic basket risks losing them in case of fire or flood. So my next project would be to carry some of these trout into their new home. It was a sunny morning, and the parking lot by Herman Gulch was full of eager hikers plus the fifty or so of us who were here on a mission of fish relocation.  The truck bearing the precious cargo arrived at 9:00 am on the dot and soon bags were being filled with a careful mix of water to air.  The bags were doubled up, and then nineteen wiggling little trout were added, from three to five inches long.  Each one of the volunteers got to put one of these trout bags into their backpack and hike it up a steep trail to the meadows above that would become these trout’s new home. We were divided into five groups, with Group One releasing their precious packages into the lower stretches and Groups Two through Five going progressively higher up the watershed.  Soon we were getting our bags of trout and heading up the trail. The first mile of the trail was pretty steep, and within our group of fish bear-

ers we all found our individual rhythms. We got to our zone, and one by one my group’s volunteers peeled off to deposit their trout in some new spot in the river that the CPW biologist Boyd would point out. By the top Boyd and I were the last two left.  He showed me a small deep pocket in the river to put my fish in, then walked up to the last remaining hole where he would put his.  My trout’s new home was a triangular pocket about fifteen feet across and a foot deep, with the flow of the small creek creating a counter-clockwise eddy spinning around in it.  There were some deep undercut banks on each side, which gave the trout plenty of cover from the sun and predators.  These had to be the luckiest fish in the world.  I couldn’t imagine more perfect place for a trout or any living creature to live in.  I stayed watching them for way longer than necessary, for it seemed to me that what I was watching was something of a miracle.  This moment had been many, many years in the making, from the discovery of these genetically pure fish, to offspring being raised in a hatchery, to the selection of restoration habitats and removal of non-native fish from those waters. Years of planning and action led up to this final step: actually putting these fish into the small creek in which they would be spending the rest of their lives.  I felt like a very lucky person to be given the honor of completing the mission.

FULL COLOR Living in the mountains in an When I see a seven-year-old expensive resort area isn’t always hanging onto a Tenkara rod, coneasy. I work four different jobs nected to a feisty rainbow trout depending on the season, and on the end of a line, I see someone rarely have a complete day off as that I hope will someday grow up a result.  So taking a day off now into a person who might one day and then to volunteer isn’t always love these rivers and mountains easy to do, but I always feel like as much as I do.  Knowing that it’s some of the best-spent time I might have made some small all year.  Taking people down the contribution to keeping that reColorado River in my boat is al- source wild and healthy, for fumost always a wonderful experi- ture people to enjoy, is the next ence, especially watching them best thing to making some HC experiencing it for the first time.  tiny humans of my own.

About The Author Jack Bombardier is a regular TU supporter and volunteer and the owner and operator of Confluence Casting, offering guide trips on the “lower upper” Colorado River above Dotsero.

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Double Deep Get Down


eed to get down? I mean really get down deep and fast? The Double Deep Stone series is what you need. Among the largest insects trout encounter, stoneflies are a meal. With two beads and lead in between, this narrow body pattern sinks abruptly. Primarily designed as a pocket water nymph dropper to a dry when wading, versatility for other nymphing conditions such as full sinking or float cruising give this pattern a prime spot in your box.

Further versatility comes by keeping the materials and tying steps the same, but changing hook sizes and colors for different bugs. Originally designed as a salmon fly, or orange stone pattern with brown and orange color tones, simply change to yellow tones for a golden stone. You can also vary the sink rate by using two brass beads instead of tungsten or a combination of the two, with or without lead. Also remember that salmonfly nymphs have a multi-year life cycle, so in any given season, there are both small immature

and large pre-adult nymphs in the rocks. Don’t just be locked in to tying the typical largest size – smaller ones are realistic as well. To tie caddis and mayfly patterns, simply reduce the hook size, keeping a long shank hook, as well as smaller beads and lead, or even using glass beads. At some point, smaller hooks, say around size 12 to 14, are too short for two beads. With all this weight, using as a dry/dropper requires a large and high floating dry. Large foam hopper or adult stone pat-


High Country Angler • Fall 2018

DOUBLE DEEP STONE terns provide buoyancy, but even those may be overwhelmed in a long drift, especially in broken water. Which is why this works especially well when wading pocket water where drifts are relatively short and recasting is frequent, the soft pockets and runs are often small and shallow, and you need to get down immediately. But don't give up on longer and deeper runs. If the dry begins to sink, with a long rod, high sticking, and line management, you can keep that dry forcibly on top in the second and lower half of the drift. Or even let it sink slightly to maintain its primary purpose as a strike indicator, but yet still visible. Sunken dries, especially large sizes and twitched, sometimes entice and bring up a deeper and larger fish. Consider this pattern a foundation to adapt in multiple ways, but retain the high sink rate with two beads, lead, and a narrow profile that gets quickly into the strike zone of the fast and rough water typi- HC cal of western rivers.


About The Author Joel Evans is a fly fishing writer, photographer, and long-time member of Trout Unlimited from Montrose, CO. You can contact him via the HCA editor at frank@

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• Walking distance to the gold-medal waters of the Gunnison River • Near Blue Mesa Reservoir • Vintage charm and ambiance • Great outdoor space • Multiple room layouts • Fully stocked kitchens • Spacious boat parking, including free long-term for multiple stays Fall 2018 • High Country Angler


The Land and Water Good for Conservation Colorado's great outdoors & Fund economy-but will Congress save it?


ince 1964, when Congress created the Land and cost-share projects for sustainable forestry to support Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to protect timber jobs, while enhancing wildlife habitat, water natural areas, water resources, and to provide quality and recreation. recreation opportunities to all Americans, the LWCF All of these investments in turn help our state’s has protected land in every state and helped support economy, where outdoor recreation generates roughover 41,000 state and local parks. From crown jew- ly $28 billion in consumer spending and supports els like Rocky Mountain National Park to local com- 229,000 jobs. And the program doesn’t rely on your munity trails and parks, the program has a 50+ year taxpayer dollars for funding. LWCF uses revenues track record of success in promoting public lands and from royalties paid by offshore oil and gas companies recreation. Yet Congress has yet again allowed this to invest back into public lands and recreation. program to reach the brink of elimination: without Congress still has time to act. Legislation has been Congressional action, the program will expire on Sep- introduced to both the US House and Senate to pertember 30. manently reauthorize the LWCF – bills HR 502 and Over the years, Colorado has received $268 million S896 – and Congress can vote to ensure that the proin funds. LWCF projects have helped protect trea- gram continues its record of success for generations sured public lands like the Great Sand Dunes National to come. Colorado’s Senators Bennet and Gardner are Park, Ophir Valley, and Canyons of the Ancients Na- both cosponsors of the Senate bill, while Representational Monument. It has helped support new outdoor tives Coffman, DeGette, Perlmutter and Polis are coaccess along rivers like the Big Thompson and Yampa, sponsors of the House bill. as well as new boat launches on the Colorado. It has invested in state parks—including Golden To Learn More Gate Canyon, Boyd Lake, and You can help by reaching out to your Representative and Roxborough State Park—as well urging them to support LWCF reauthorization before the as community parks and trails program expires. Visit our action alert at from Aurora to Pagosa Springs. to take action now! Through its Forest Legacy Program, LWCF has invested in


High Country Angler • Fall 2018

Young volunteers with Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK) work on a Montbello cleanup; LWCF has supported a new urban open space and ELK learning center in Montbello that will reach 40,000 youth and families every year.

Fall 2018 • High Country Angler


LWCF helped acquire the Baca Ranch, opening the way for establishment of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. The area features North America’s tallest dunes and high mountain lakes and streams harboring cutthroat trout.

Eagle County has used LWCF funds to support additional boat launches along the Colorado River.

Ancestral Puebloan sites were protected with LWCF support at Canyon of the Ancients National Monument.

Key inholdings have been secured with LWCF funds to protect the Black Canyon of the Gunnison and Gunnison Gorge, home to one of Colorado’s legendary wild trout fisheries.

Fall 2018 • High Country Angler




or the longest time I’ve been carrying a heavy wading jacket for a waterproof jacket. I’ve also been known to be the only one holding an umbrella while coaching my son’s Barrett’s 8th grade football team. This past week I was caught in a downpour in Yellowstone, and was not only dry, but warm, and continued fishing thanks to Kuhl’s Airstorm Jacket! Finally, a lightweight, waterproof jacket that can stow away inside my small pack. Now at the first site of rain, I can continue looking as if I belong out there and continue my passion, whether it has fins or chases after quarterbacks.  One facet of a rainproof coat or jacket is its water resistant/waterproof level. Well, not only is this Airstorm made with high-quality, waterSAAAproof components, but it is also breathable for those warm storms we get in the summer, too.  Sporting a 20K waterproof rating, 16K water vapor transportation, and a 2.5 layer 15 micron thick hydrophilic PU laminate—let’s simply say—you will stay dry from the elements, and you will not bake, either. Enjoy remaining dry inside and out!  This Kuhl’s fabric is woven for mechanical stretch and strength. Spacer mesh inserts at the draft flap, inside hood, and inside yoke create airflow, and the 2 KÜHL zipper system allows airflow, but can also be zip closed. All seams have been fully sealed with matching tape for a clean interior. Adding to the jacket’s features are adjustable Velcro cuff closures that seal out cold and wet, tightening the sleeve when you need a snug fit to keep out of the way when actively casting flies to wary fish. The Airstorm also offers YKK zippers and bottom, hemcord adjustments for a custom fit. One of the most important features—I almost forgot—a signature Kuhl hood is equipped with front and back adjustments so you can even get that fit just right and stay dry.  The Airstorm is available in Charcoal, Olive and Blue. Charcoal looks good on me in the river, or basically, anything I’m doing where I’m active and it’s less than stellar outside. Which color will you get? For more information, check out See you on the water, no matter what season it may be.



One Last Cast

by Nicholas Krishnan

Hey guys, it’s almost three o’clock; we’re gonna have to wrap it up here soon.” “Okay, just a few more casts.” I moved to Colorado in seventh grade, and I had no idea what fly-fishing was. Soon I learned that fly-fishing was a very popular sport in Colorado, but it seemed to me that the people doing this sport were all rich white guys, and I don’t exactly fall in to that category. A few years back, a couple of my good friends invited me to tag along and fish the Blue River with them. I didn’t catch anything that day, but I was hooked. Now I love to fly-fish – the preparation, the mental battle, netting a fish—these and so many other aspects of fly-fishing have drawn me to the sport. As I became more and more involved in fly-fishing, I soon realized that my perception seemed to be reality: I am almost always the only minority on the river. This summer I found myself in a position to do something that would give more minorities the opportunity to learn how to fly-fish. In order to complete my master’s degree I needed an internship, so I reached out to Colorado Trout Unlimited to set up a youth outreach program that would be geared towards teaching underprivileged kids how to fly-fish. Not only would this program help to diversify the demographics of fly-fishermen/women in Colorado, but theoretically it would also help to inspire a new generation of conservationists. Reaching out to many different non-profit organizations that work with youth in lower income areas, we found a perfect partner for this pilot program in Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK). ELK focuses


High Country Angler • Fall 2018

on helping kids graduate from high school and get accepted into college by using the outdoors as a classroom to teach skills in leadership and dealing with adversity. The group of ELK youth who were the participants in our fly-fishing program were their Urban Rangers. The Urban Rangers are a group of ten young adults in high school or early in their college career, and they are some of the leaders at ELK. Not only do the Urban Rangers teach younger ELK members the skills that they’ve learned, it is actually their summer job and they get paid, giving them more of a sense of responsibility in their outdoor adventures. We took the Urban Rangers to Clear Creek for a day. The first half of the day was instructional. CTU volunteer Dick Shinton led an educational program covering watersheds, trout life-cycles, native trout species and some entomology. After a quick tutorial on knot-tying and flycasting, the Urban Rangers wadered up and hit the water. This was the part of the day that really got everyone excited: lines out, time to fish. Going in to the day my hope was that even if no one caught fish, the Urban Rangers would still be

Fall 2018 • High Country Angler



High Country Angler • Fall 2018

excited about being on the water. Claudia caught two fish, and a lot of the other Urban Rangers got bites. It was pretty cool that a lot of the bites and one of the trout Claudia caught were on some hoppers tied by one of our volunteers, Dr. Jacob Kinnard. We were on the water for about two and a half hours; by the end of the day a lot of the Urban Rangers had abandoned their rods and were using a large rock as a makeshift water slide, but there was one person who wasn’t giving up. Leaning over, eyes focused on his fly, Christian hadn’t had a bite, but he wasn’t about to give up. While his friends were cooling off and playing in the water, Christian looked intense. I felt like I could read his mind; I had been like him before: “Just one bite, is that so much to ask for?” Unfortunately, we had to go after a few more casts, but he was hooked, and he wasn’t the only one.

Fall 2018 • High Country Angler


At the end of the day, we were getting questions about when we could do this type of program again, and where other good trout streams were. I also had the privilege of telling the Urban Rangers that they got to keep all of the fishing gear they had used that day, thanks to the generosity of our business partners including Wright-McGill. I don’t know who was more excited about that, me or them. This was probably the most rewarding thing I’ve done in my life, and I’m hoping anglers everywhere will continue to teach others about this sport we love, especially those who normally wouldn’t participate.

About The Author Nick Krishnan is a Masters candidate with the Iliff School of Theology, and served as a youth outreach intern for Colorado TU this summer.


High Country Angler • Fall 2018


Fall 2018 • High Country Angler




Regulations: Necessary, but…


Are all these regulations, the ones we deal with every day, really necessary, or are they “government over-reach?

I understand your frustration, but regulations can be necessary when we cannot depend on people to do the right thing. Alexander Hamilton wrote, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” But we are not angels, and people seem to need defined “taboos” and “commandments” to govern them. The challenge is that what seems right to one person may seem wrong for others. This is especially true with environmental issues and management of natural resources, where ownership is spread across the entire citizenry. Population is a basic problem. There are simply too many humans and our advanced technologies have too many known, and unknown, effects on other humans and the environment upon which we all depend to let everyone “do their own thing.” My rights end where yours begin. We just cannot turn back the calendars to those past centuries when there were few humans, natural resources were relatively unexploited, and life was simply a matter of day-to-day survival. However, even though I accept the necessity of regulations in general, I do not accept the regulatory mess with which anglers must contend as they cast their flies in waters governed by different jurisdictions. We can and must do better. Colorado anglers have one big advantage with respect to regulations pertaining to water: everything is downhill from Colorado. With the minor exceptions of a short reach of the Little Snake Riv-



High Country Angler • Fall 2018

er and a few miles of a loop in the Green River in northwest Colorado, no water flows into Colorado from another state. This means that Colorado doesn’t have to deal with gaps in the regulations of other states, at least with respect to waters flowing in. Colorado authorities can focus on whatever regulations are needed to control problems within the state. Unlike Las Vegas, what happens in Colorado does not stay in Colorado, at least when water is the matter under consideration, because water from Colorado flows directly into seven other states. Even within the scope of appropriation rights where first claims have priority, Colorado has some responsibility for the effects of its regulations on everyone located downstream. By-and-large, Colorado authorities have done a good job with regulations affecting fish. Things such as catch limits, types of gear, and seasons are basic rules designed to spread the catch equitably among as many anglers as possible. Other regulations are designed to address concerns about the movement of fish disease agents and the introduction of non-native fish and/or aquatic nuisance species. In my experience, the biggest flaw in the regulatory systems is the fact that regulations are always applied within the limits of political boundaries, and rarely consider river basin or ecological boundaries. To be effective, Colorado regulations applying to the Platte River system must be coordinated with Wyoming and Nebraska. Similar coordination is required with downstream states in the Colorado River system, and the Rio Grande, and the Arkansas. Within each state, there is a tendency to produce regulations on a “one size fits all” basis. Unfortunately, what is best for the Rio Grande system may not be best for the Platte system. Another factor that can produce regulatory

chaos is the fierce defense by state agencies (a.k.a. regulators) of their authorities. The waters and the biota in them are an interconnected system; the regulations applied to them need to be based on the same system. The more interrelated the resource, the more important a coordinated approach becomes. But that can be a challenge when river basins involve more than one political entity and, thus, more than one jurisdictional authority. There are several ways to accomplish the desired goal, but authorities must first agree that they want to solve the problem, even if it means giving up a bit of their independent authority. The simplest way to accomplish management based on river basin boundaries rather than state boundaries is to agree to have federal management. In Canada, authority for fisheries management rests with the federal government, unless specifically given to the separate Provinces. It is unlikely that the U.S. Constitution will be modified to retain authority for fisheries management at the federal level, but states could voluntarily enter into basin-wide compacts that would provide federal managers the authority to manage selected aspects, such as introductions of non-native species and fish health regulations. Another model that has worked for a variety of fisheries and water issues is to enact federal legislation that requires states to develop basin-wide management compacts by a certain date. If the states fail to do so, the federal government will step in,

develop management strategies and regulations, and implement these approaches until such time as the states develop their uniform regulations. This approach has worked quite well for striped bass management in Chesapeake Bay. To ensure sufficient uniformity in the design and implementation of management strategies, regulations, and testing protocols, standards could be developed by international agencies or developed under the authorities of international treaties. However, some people and some agencies probably would object and claim loss of sovereign powers. Regulations, standards, and methods that vary widely, and wildly, across political boundaries are ineffective in maintaining fish populations and protecting natural resources. The evidence is overwhelming that the absence of uniform standards and procedures that address common concerns and recognize natural boundaries rather than political boundaries, has created a mess that constrains legitimate commerce and does little to protect natural resources. Regulators must give up a bit of jurisdictional independence in order to address the problems that face effective fishery management. So yes, healthy fisheries do require regulations. There is such a thing as common interest and the common good. Good regulations will be those that force individuals to work togeth- HC er for that common good.

About The Author John Nickum, is a retired PhD. fishery biologist whose career has included positions as professor at research universities including Iowa State and Cornell University, director of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s fisheries research facility in Bozeman, MT, and science officer for the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Mountain-Prairie Region. He was inducted into the National Fish Culture Hall of Fame in 2008.

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High Country Angler | Fall 2018  
High Country Angler | Fall 2018