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Spring 20

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THIS ISSUE:

by Landon Mayer

Back to Basics: The Fraser River

by Brian La Rue

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TABLE ROCK RANCH

CRAZY WATERS RANCH

SKY RIVER RANCH

VAIL VALLEY AREA, COLORADO

BIG TIMBER, MONTANA

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, COLORADO

The extraordinary water, scenery and privacy of this 785± acre trophy fishing property are complemented by exceptional accommodations and a convenient location within easy reach of Vail Valley amenities and airport.

A 9,000± acre operating ranch includes a 350± acre private lake, 6.5± miles of a trout stream, outstanding upland bird, waterfowl, antelope, deer and pheasant hunting plus a distinctive log home.

Crowned by a custom home perched on a bench overlooking the valley, this unique ranch stands out for its Elk River trout fishing and stunning setting. The 797± acres also encompass Deep Creek, hay meadows and rolling hills.

REDUCED TO $15,950,000

$12,750,000

REDUCED TO $9,900,000

TIMBER CREEK RANCH ALDER , MONTANA

ST. CLAIR RANCH AT FISH CREEK

MADISON RIVER RANCH

MISSOULA, MONTANA

ENNIS, MONTANA

South of Alder within the national forest, featuring comfortable and attractive improvements and two+ miles of both sides of a spring creek-influenced section of the Ruby River and immediate access to user-friendly mountain country.

The epitome of luxury western living in a storied landscape on 290± acres a half-hour west of Missoula. Custom log home, guest homes and superlative equestrian facilities. Borders Fish Creek State Wildlife Management Area.

Located near Ennis, MT, with 2,156± acres (1,196± deeded) fronting on approximately 1.5 miles of the Madison. Potential for wetland development and creation of an owner’s compound with views of the Madison Range.

$6,900,000

$4,750,000

$4,375,000

SA LES | AUCTI O NS High Country Angler • Spring 2017

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F IN A N C E

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MA N AG EMEN T www.HCAmagazine.com


Dedicated to Land and Landowners Since 1946

SUSIE Q RANCH

CASCABEL

OVANDO, MONTANA

SUN VALLEY, IDAHO

NORWOOD, COLORADO

612± acre premium retreat, 1.5± mi. riverfront, trophy architecture, outstanding privacy and wildlife. Home, club house, river pavilion and restored historic barn make this the most significant offering available on the river.

The 537± acre Susie Q Ranch, 40 minutes from Ketchum, is one of Sun Valley’s premier fishing properties. The ranch features tasteful improvements, lush pastures, and nearly 2 miles of world-renowned Silver Creek.

Twenty-eight miles northwest of Telluride lies a world-class fishing property situated along three miles of a key stretch of the San Miguel River. A lodge, home and guest cabins are tastefully designed and create an ideal family retreat.

$9,900,000

$9,500,000

$7,950,000

BIG BLACKFOOT RIVER RANCH

CLARK FORK RANCH

PERFUME PASTURE

LAZY E BAR Z RANCH

BEARMOUTH, MONTANA

PAGOSA SPRINGS, COLORADO

CONDON, MONTANA

1,559± acres with Clark Fork frontage, oxbow lakes harboring large trout, USFS/State land borders, only 30 minutes east of Missoula. The property has a manager’s residence, a barn and newer working corrals.

810± acres of raw, undeveloped land located nine miles north of Pagosa Springs. Features spectacular views, Ponderosa pines, open land, close proximity to national forest, and a buildto-suit opportunity.

The snowcapped peaks of the Mission and Swan mountain ranges flank the Swan River as it flows through this 165± acre property with two log homes situated next to a trout pond, two barns and airplane hangar.

$3,200,000

$2,950,000

$2,800,000

WWW. H A LLA ND H A LL.CO M www.HCAmagazine.com

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I N FO @ H A LLA N D H A LL.C O MSpring | 82017 8 8 . 5 5• High 7. 3 09 0 Country Angler

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Mountain Living and Working Near Colorado’s Newest gold Medal Trout Waters of the Upper Arkansas River

The Reserve at Cottonwood Creek For the Fly Fishing Enthusiast!

Truly Unique Getaway for Outdoor Enthusiasts

Ten lots available at The Reserve, some with frontage along Cottonwood Creek.

$319,000 $64,900 to $169,000 The Reserve is a 100 acre development in Buena Vista with 30 acres of greenspace along one mile of Cottonwood Creek, set aside as a permanent nature sanctuary protecting the Creek and its wooded wetlands. Fly fish along the Creek or in the four private catch and release trout ponds. 10 minutes from the Arkansas River. The covered pavilion provides a social venue for families and the community. A hiking/jogging trail goes along the Creek and around the perimeter. The Reserve has city sewers; lot owners drill their own well, augmented for outside watering. Four lots have Cottonwood Creek frontage, including Lot 25 as shown. Located within minutes of the Arkansas River.

Own a private 15.95 acre mining claim and cabin surrounded by the San Isabel National Forest; 25 minutes from the Gold Medal Waters of the Upper Arkansas River and South Park fishing. The 3 BR, 1 Bath 1090 sq ft. cabin has been well maintained; a 260 sq ft screened porch and bonus room adds extra space for relaxing or sleeping. The 930 sq ft wraparound deck has views from the Collegiates to Buffalo Peaks. Vaulted ceilings with skylights, custom milled pine floors. Solar; generator for well pump. Propane stove, refrigerator and water heater; stove also has wood burning capability. Two car detached garage. Extensive fire mitigation for insurance. Hunting, hiking, biking, snowmobiling, 4-wheeling; badminton, rifle range, and horseshoe pits on the property. Deer, antelope, elk, wild turkey, and Bighorn Sheep roaming. Located in the Bassam Park area, less than 10 miles from US 285/24; less than 16 miles from Buena Vista.

Call Dan Cooper for Details andEMAIL Private Showing DAN 6

High Country Angler • Spring 2017

719-221-8865

www.HCAmagazine.com


Sophisticated Mountain Living

In Harmony with the Environment

$1,289,000 Custom built home in Buena Vista, CO; 15 minutes from Gold Medal Waters of the Upper Arkansas River. Unobstructed views of the 14,000 ft peaks of the Collegiate Range and Sangre de Cristo Range, San Isabel National Forest and the Arkansas River Valley. 3 BR and bonus room; 3.5 baths. 4,820 sf living area, plus sunroom. Upgrades and interesting designer touches throughout. Large decks, partially covered, for relaxing and entertaining. Property includes a detached 1,760 sf workshop/garage with wood stove and oversized doors. Oversized 2 car att. garage; storage above via staircase. Many upgrades and amenities. Beautifully maintained; looks nearly new. Direct access to the adjacent national forest.

Overlooking the Arkansas River Valley

$980,000

Stunning contemporary home with many of the features you have always wanted, located in The Reserve at Cottonwood Creek. 4 BR 3.5 baths, 3800 sq ft home plus spacious guest quarters above garage. Design features: barnwood siding; steel reinforced loft for two-story open plan; rear patio with fireplace and hot tub; wide-plank oak floors; kitchen has warming drawer, ice machine, wine/mini-fridge. Main floor master with designer bath. This home is beautifully positioned overlooking the 30 acres of greenspace of with Ponderosas and Aspen; steps away from the 3+ mile trail system in The Reserve. Spring Creek runs through the property. Many amenities and upgrades.

Twin Lakes General Store

$750,000 $745,000 Step into this remarkable contemporary home in Buena Vista designed and built to take advantage of the unique setting overlooking the Upper Arkansas Valley with panoramas of the Collegiate Range. 4 BR, 3.5 BA, 4,084 SF. First floor living includes a dream kitchen, an adjacent office with high-end cabinetry, a dining room/great room with walls of glass, watermilled hickory flooring from Vermont, and an enviable master suite. Take the open staircase down to a walk-out great room with fireplace, 3 additional bedrooms and 2 baths. 4th bedroom can serve as a large office. Home Warranty is included. 15 minutes to the Gold Medal Waters of the Arkansas. www.HCAmagazine.com

The historic & updated General Store sells gas, fishing licenses, ice, groceries, alcohol, & sundries. Sales revenue has tripled over past three years, exceeding $400k in 2016. Attached 3 BR, 1-3/4 B home has been remodeled and includes upstairs open area for office or playroom. Carpet and roof new in 2014. Large side yard. Accessible year round. Two detached 2+ car garages/shops and 2 out buildings provide flexibility for storage and income opportunities. Live, work, and play in one of Colorado’s most beautiful glacial valleys. Financials are available with a signed confidentiality agreement. The store is located six miles from the Arkansas River on CO Highway 82, the primary link between Aspen and the Front Range in summer. Over 2,000 cars/day travel across Independence Pass, great for viewing fall colors near Mt. Elbert. Spring 2017 • High Country Angler

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If you are looking for the ultimate fishing paradise, either for an end user, or subdividing, this is it! Call or email for detailed information!

970-209-2888

kimberly.rose@coldwellbanker.com

$3,500,000 www.kimcrestedbutterealestate.com

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High Country Angler • Spring 2017

Coldwell Banker Bighorn Realty P.O. Box 100, 305 6th Street Crested Butte, CO 81224

This 157.92 acre parcel boasts some of the best fly fishing in the state, with 1/2 mile of both sides of the Colorado River, and another 1/4 mile of Willow Creek, a tailwater fishery that has been greatly enhanced by some of the best experts in the state. 10.33 CFS of adjudicated irrigation water from the Horn Ditch No. 1 and 2 of Willow Creek for haying, pasture, and livestock. This property can be subdivided. The river is lined with spruce, pines, and cottonwoods. Large meadows, along with a mesa up high for views. Only 20 minutes from Winter Park Ski Resort, and less than a two hour drive from Denver (90 miles) is an added bonus. This property is also minutes from Grand Lake, Lake Granby, Willow Creek Reservoir, and Rocky Mountain National Park. This ranch is not only a fishing mecca for private fishing, but is also home to hunting; many animals call it their home. Ponds and wetlands attract geese, ducks, and cranes. Deer, elk, antelope, moose, and sage grouse--to name a few--frequent the property. This property is truly unique!

www.HCAmagazine.com


renegade ranch parshall, co $750,000

one of the last great stretches of the colorado river

dennis r. saffell, alc 970.531.3200 dsaffell@cbmp.com

What is your Brand’s

personality?

Let us help you answer That Question. www.HCAmagazine.com

Spring 2017 • High Country Angler

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SPRING 2017 VOLUME 14 • ISSUE 2 MAGAZINE CONTENTS 10

SOUTH TO PATAGONIA

19

HEADWATERS MATTER!

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26

28

30

32

38

40

42

44

46

48

50

52

57

58

60

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BY LANDON MAYER BY DAVID NICKUM

BACK TO BASICS: THE FRASER RIVER BY BRIAN LA RUE

FRASER RIVER HABITAT IMPROVEMENT BY KIRK KLANCKE

A RANCHER’S BIG VISION FOR THE COLORADO RIVER BY RANDY SCHOLFIELD

SACRED SPACES

BY HAYDEN MELLSOP

MATCHING MAYFLIES: PART TWO BY PETER STITCHER

DEFINED BY A FISH, NOT A DISEASE! BY JOHN W. NELSON

FIRST CAST

BY JOHN ST. JOHN

BEAM ME UP!

BY JOEL EVANS

SPORTSMEN’S VOICES HEARD: KEEP PUBLIC LAND PUBLIC! BY JEFF FLORENCE

NATIVE SOUNDS: CLEAR CREEK & SUNRISE ANGLERS BY COLORADO TU STAFF

CTU RIVER CONSERVATION YOUTH CAMP BY JEFF FLORENCE

DONOR SPOTLIGHT WITH STEVE CRAIG

MEETEETSE WATERS BY BRIAN LA RUE

HCA GEAR BAG

BY BRIAN LA RUE

THE LAST CAST

BY JOHN NICKUM

2016 ANNUAL REVIEW

BY COLORADO TROUT UNLIMITED High Country Angler • Spring 2017

www.HCAmagazine.com


HCA Staff P U B LISHER S

J ac k Tallo n & Frank M ar tin

C O NTENT C ONSU LTANT L ando n M ayer

EDITO R IAL

Frank M ar t i n, M anagi ng Editor f rank@ hc am agaz ine.co m Landon Mayer, Editorial Consultant Ruthie Mar tin, Editor

ADV ER TISING

B r i an L a R ue, S ales & M a r keting b r ian@ hc am agaz i ne.co m D i rec t : ( 714) 944- 5676 K andily n M ar t i n, Ad S ales k andi ly n@ hc am agaz ine.com Cell: ( 719) 432- 8317

DESIG N

David M ar tin, Creative Direc tor & Graphic D esigner aisthetadesign.com

P HOTO G RAP HY

Frank Martin, Landon Mayer, Brian LaRue, Angus Drummond

STAF F WRITER S

Frank Martin, Landon Mayer, Brian LaRue, Joel Evans, David Nickum, John Nickum, Peter Stitcher, Jeff Florence

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 frank@hcamagazine.com. 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 www.coloradotu.org

ON THE COVER: Landon Mayer, photo by Gonzalo Flego

Find High Country Angler Magazine on

TOC PHOTO: by Frank Martin

www.HCAmagazine.com

Spring 2017 • High Country Angler

11


with Andes Drifters

12

by Landon Mayer High Country Angler • Spring 2017

www.HCAmagazine.com


www.HCAmagazine.com

PHOTO BY GONZALO FLEGO Spring 2017 • High Country Angler

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L

ast December I had the great fortune of finding myself in a run with multiple prime trout holding locations, and incredible amounts of large adult fish going absolutely berserk in a feeding frenzy. The biggest challenge was not in spending hours hunting and presenting, but in deciding which 18-26 inch trophy I was aiming for. Additionally, the river was only 15 feet wide, with spring-fed water that was crystal clear, un-pressured, and relatively untouched by people. While pinching myself, I wondered if this is what fishing Colorado was like 50 years ago. The following information will hopefully tempt you to take a trip abroad to embark on an epic adventure like mine with Andes Drifters in Argentina—home of Yerba Matte and great mountain people. One of the most effective ways to become the best angler possible is by becoming a well-seasoned traveler. That could mean covering the whole stretch of your home water in different seasons, traveling to new areas within the country you live, or the ultimate bucket list prize of an exotic new country, with all adventures undertaken in hopes of trout hunting success. This is exactly what I accomplished with Gonzalo Flego and Gustavo Hiebaum of Andes Drifters. Thanks to their expertise and customized experience, my good friend Jay Nichols and I found ourselves in the remote narrow waters of Northern Patagonia, Argentina, casting to large hungry trout that would rather suck in a dry than chase a nymph. Trout and salmon were introduced to Argentina in the early 20th century for recreational fishing in lakes and rivers in the southern provinces of Río Negro, Neuquén, Chubut, Santa Cruz, and Tierra del Fuego. The species, which readily adapted to local conditions, continued breeding without human intervention, and all trout since the 1940s are wild reproducing populations. It is estimated that 70 percent are rainbow trout, although brooks, browns, and Atlantic salmon were also introduced.

The Adventure Begins I must admit, the best gift I received last holiday season was the chance to travel south to Patagonia, leaving the powder days of Colorado with sunscreen in hand for the start of summer in Argentina. The journey began after touching down at the small airport in San Martin. From there we navigated by dirt and gravel road to a wonder-

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High Country Angler • Spring 2017

ful small bed and breakfast that became our base camp for the first leg of the trip. Malbec and good conversation would flow during the gourmet dinners, and the first two days were filled with some of the most amazing scenery I have ever seen as a trout hunter. Perched high upon the trail twenty feet above the river, I watched giant rainbows search for every easy meal on the water’s surface. They did not just rise for a few hours… these fish ate all morning! On day three we decided to switch things up and travel to fish below the mighty presence of the Lanin Volcano, surrounded by Monkey Puzzle trees, and wading swift boulder water in search of mainly rainbow trout using streamers and nymphs. The upper Malleo River is famous not only for the fish, but for the breathtaking views, as well. Mid week it was time to slow things down, not in terms of less fishing, but in the pursuit of fish in the slow open meadow settings of rivers and spring creeks. This was the highlight of the trip for me, spotting large browns (20-28 inches) in waters that are only 15 feet wide, waiting and watching for them to give the signal that they were willing to rise to a fly. All I could do was tell myself to not set too fast and pull the treat away from the bruiser brown that—no joke—would move the length of the river to suck in a fly. The challenge was making sure every cast was on point. The fly line a majority of the time would land on the gravel bar or grassy bank, while the 20-foot leader line would land up above the fish and drift down. You could not mend or recast….you were all in or nothing. This heart racing action continued during the remaining days with a switch in accommodation from tent camps on the edge of Lake Filo Hua-Hun, to the stunning views from a gorgeous lodge perched high above San Martin.

Approach with Caution The buddy system is the approach of using 4-8 sets of eyes over two to sight fish, and, most importantly, analyze the situation at hand. We were trying to determine the best way to approach the fish, and not just in terms of spooking it; what I learned from this trip more than ever was the need for a perfect position to get that one perfect cast…. and I mean one! Some of the positions only allowed one cast for one fish. By the last few days of our 6- day adventure, it was like golfing on the green, going over the best angle for the putt.

www.HCAmagazine.com


PHOTOS COURTESY LANDON MAYER FLY FISHING

www.HCAmagazine.com

Spring 2017 • High Country Angler

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I immediately took a mental trip back to my third year of guiding, when a wise angler asked me if I knew my ABC’s. My response was, haha, of course I do. However this kind angler was not being sarcastic; instead, he taught me that you should always have three locations from which to approach each trout: point A, point B, or point C. Not only does this give you options up and down stream, or on either side of the trout, it forces you to learn to be patient and watch both the fish and the water to find that perfect location. Since learning that tip, I can honestly say that at least 60 percent of the time I prefer an upstream position from the trout, to allow my fly to drift into the viewing lane first. That held true in the remote waters of Argentina with most of the large trout remaining eager to feed on the surface; the water was amazingly clear because it is spring-fed, along with runoff from the Andes. This also prevents sediment that can stain water. 16

High Country Angler • Spring 2017

www.HCAmagazine.com


Leader Formula Now, I always thought I used long leaders on my home waters of the South Platte. Some days I would end that day building up to 15 feet. Well, that was only the starting point for the Argentine adventure. The trout were not leader-shy; instead, they were extremely line and movement shy….to the point where some presentations required the fly line to only fall on land, while the 20-foot leader drifted in the current to the fish. Mending in many situations was not an option; this is why we covered approach and delivery to start—because it was all about first impressions to these trout. With the use of monofilament, the rigs floated well. The formula in which to build these long systems was fairly simple, but effective for turning over dries up to size #8 attractors like a Royal PMX, or #14-18 Black Foam Beetles. Sixty percent butt section, twenty percent mid section, and twenty percent tippet section. On paper it would look like this: 60% 0-1X, 20% 3X, and 20% 4x. Matched with the Scientific Anglers Ultimate Trout Textured line, we were ready to battle wild trout in any conditions. Lastly, once we were rigged, the final challenge was to make like rock and hold still until the fish took the dry and dropped its head below the water’s surface. This was hard enough when we couldn’t see the fish below the rise form; try waiting without movement as a 26- inch brown confidently swims over 10 feet to eat the large dry. It was awesome!

wild fish acted like they were trained in the trout NBA; simply put, they had hops. Eye-level jumps—back, to back, to back. Matched with the rod positioned upstream of the trout wa-

ter level, the fish were eager to swim upstream towards the rod tip to relieve pressure. The biggest question I have received over the year is, “Do you bow to

Stationary Battles I am a big fan of fighting trout on the move by keeping leverage above the trout’s head to wear down the target by forcing it to head shake. But in these small fishing zones, it was either impossible to follow the fish from landscape, fast water, or structure half the time. After Gustavo shared this bit of information I thought to myself “How will this tank wear itself out?” It did not take long for the answer: these www.HCAmagazine.com

Spring 2017 • High Country Angler

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the trout after it jumps, or do you follow the jumping motion up and down with the rod still in a convex path?” I am a fan of following the jump. Unlike Tarpon that jump on the move, trout tend to leap up, not forward, with numerous head and body shakes along the way. If you bow to the trout, you can run the risk of letting slack line fall below the leaping target that can land on your rig and break off. Matched with rod tip pointing at the fish, you then have a fighting chance to land a quality fish on any waterway. As I sat back in my seat on the plane for the long journey home, I realized that not only was this a successful trip with great fish landed, it was a true learning/catching experience. We brought back more knowledge than when we arrived, and quickly took advantage of the techniques in Colorado. Try some of these tips on your next flyfishing adventure, whether that be on your home waters or a destination like this one with Andes Drifters to Argentina. HC

I

’d like to thank the Andes Drifters team for designing my 100% customized Argentina adventure. Their attention to detail and level of service are second to none. To schedule you next adventure South to Patagonia visit www.andesdrifters. com or call Kevin Landon at 720-425-6270 .

A

bout 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 www.landonmayer.com.

Willowfly Anglers Guide Service at Three Rivers Resort

• • • •

30+ years experience on Colorado’s best rivers Located in Almont, Colorado on the Taylor River Gunnison River – Taylor River – East River Private Lease Fishing for the ultimate experience

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1-888-761-FISH (3474) www.3riversresort.com 18

High Country Angler • Spring 2017

• Beautiful cabins, lodge rooms and vacation homes • Summer time restaurant • Complete fly fishing shop • General Store with gifts, rentals and convenience store • Rafting, horse back rides, zip line and more!

www.HCAmagazine.com


FROM THE COLORADO TU DIRECTOR • DAVID NICKUM

Headwaters Matter!

C

ommon sense can be surprisingly uncommon. Anglers get the commonsense proposition that our headwaters matter: we can’t protect the health of our fisheries and rivers like the Arkansas, Platte, Rio Grande, and Colorado, if we don’t protect them at the source. Water flows downhill, and if we degrade and pollute the small feeders at the head of watersheds, then downstream areas will also suffer. This extends even to streams that don’t flow year round. If you’ve spent much time in Colorado, you know how the next spring snowmelt – or the next gully-washer thunderstorm – will turn a temporarily dry streambed into a rushing river. If we trash and pollute those seasonal waterways, the impact will make its way downstream the next time those seasonal streams begin to flow. In 2015, consistent with Supreme Court direction, science, and common sense, the Environmental Protection Agency and US Army Corps of Engineers issued their “Clean Water Rule” to ensure that these small, seasonal headwater streams enjoyed protection under the Clean Water Act. Those protections had been in place from the 1970s through the mid 2000s, but came under question following a splintered Supreme Court decision called Rapanos in 2006. Unfortunately, President Trump recently issued an ill-conceived Executive Order asking the EPA and Corps to review and revise this rule – and to make it consistent with an opinion from the Rapanos case that was supported only by a minority of the Supreme Court. Under that minority view, the Clean Water Act applies only to the perennial streams and lakes that flow year-round. In Colorado, seasonal waterways represent about 70% of our stream miles – and allowing their pollution and degradation will have major implications for the 30% that do flow year round as well. The good news is that changing federal rules and regulations takes time, requires informed decisionmaking based on real information, and must provide opportunity for public comment. So anglers will have the chance to make their voices heard and ask the Administration to ensure that any new Clean Water Rule still protects our seasonal headwater streams. The Executive Order set a very troubling tone, but the Corps and EPA still have the chance to “get it right” – www.HCAmagazine.com

and Trout Unlimited will be fighting every step of the way to make sure that our headwaters are protected. One of TU’s greatest strengths is our diverse grassroots – from all political stripes – who agree that protecting our rivers, water quality, and fisheries are not and cannot be partisan issues. That positions

us well to not only credibly defend against threats to water quality protections like the recent Executive Order, but to also pursue opportunities to work with the new administration on important fishery protection efforts, whether it be defending Bristol Bay in Alaska, advancing “Good Samaritan” legislation to help promote clean-up of abandoned mines, or working on site-specific, locally-supported river protection proposals that our chapters develop in partnership with their communities. Please join us and make your voice heard! You can visit TU’s action site for protecting our headwaters at www.standup.tu.org Together we can deliver the message: our rivers matter, from headwaters to the sea, and anglers will be at the forefront of HC conserving, protecting, and restoring them.

About The Author. David Nickum is Colorado Trout Unlimited’s Executive Director. Among his favorite places to fish are high lakes and headwater streams on both sides of the Continental Divide in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Spring 2017 • High Country Angler

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by Brian La Rue

Back to The Fraser River by Brian La Rue 20

High Country Angler • Spring 2017

www.HCAmagazine.com


Basics: www.HCAmagazine.com

Spring 2017 • High Country Angler

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I

f you haven’t heard of the Fraser River, you must live under a rock with all the stoneflies, sculpin, and scuds. The 32.5-mile Fraser is well known for great small-tomedium stream fishing, and it is considered the number one tributary for the Colorado River. More recently, it has become a major talking point in Denver’s

growing battle for water, and the Fraser suffering. Colorado Trout Unlimited has been working with Denver Water for over a decade on a Fraser deal. They have been working out an agreement to keep a bigger percentage of water in the river at key times of the year when flows and temperature challenge the river’s

Untapped. Untamed.

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High Country Angler • Spring 2017

health. For now, the Fraser and the deal in place are looking good, but as always, we have to continue to save, conserve, and protect what we have as outdoorsmen. That positive news from the Fraser is welcomed to say the least, but if you hit the Fraser this Spring, Summer, or Fall, what is it going to take for you to catch and release a few nice photo fish in 2017? For starters, the Fraser holds wild rainbows, browns, brookies, and cutts. The river runs eight miles north from its beginning near Berthoud Pass, through national forest land, and offers some public access. As you might imagine, this water is skinny and shallow— offering a dab and walk kind of outing—but fishing can be good. As you get into the Winter Park area, the river can be accessed via the Fraser River Trail from the many campgrounds; or, try hitting it from the road turnouts. There is some private land, so keep that in mind. As the river spills into the valley, anglers will need to consult a map, or ask Winter Park Fly Fishers about access, but you can’t go wrong in the canyon area downriver from the town of Tabernash. This is easy wading water, as much of the area is flat after you hike down, or hike to the river’s edge. Anglers will find a beautiful, bendy river with plenty of runs, deep pools, and riffles, which also translates into a variety of insect life, allowing you to utilize nymphs, dries, and streamers to produce from March to November. “Spring time is always fun on the Fraser with Blue Winged Olives, multi-colored streamers in sizes 6 to 8, red San Juan Worms, WD40s, Zebra midges, egg patterns, and black beauties,” said Josh Frank at Winter Park Fly Fisher. “You will enjoy catching quality rainbows www.HCAmagazine.com


averaging 13 inches, but there’s always a chance for a 20-plus-inch brown.” As runoff hits, stick to the edges of the river with streamers and larger dries, or add a bit of shot and probe the depths where fish can get away from the turbulent flows. Frank says streamer fishing can be lots of fun year round, but especially productive when flows are up and off color. When things settle down, a new menu will take hold for summer. “Dry fly fishing really gets going on the Fraser after runoff,” adds Frank. “Parachute Adams, Caddis, Mosquitoes, Hoppers, smaller Chubbies, and other terrestrials begin to turn on,” said Frank. “I would suggest anglers try a Chubby or Hopper with a dropper like a Rainbow Warrior or a red Copper John to connect with fish in pocket water, or the riffles in the summer. The dropper rigs are very productive with the droppers at 24 to 30 inches. Not much changes as summer winds down and fall takes hold of the valley. Frank suggests anglers walk up the valley out of Tabernash to get away from the popular spots, and try streamers and waning hopper bite as the calendar pushes into September. Don’t count out October Caddis and Damsel patterns, too. “Overall, the Fraser offers easy access, but you can still hike in a fair distance and get away from the average angler,” said Frank. “With 12- to 15-inch rainbows entertaining you, and the shot at a quality brown, the Fraser is always a fun outing. There is so much water in Grand County, that, as a local, I really don’t hit the Fraser that much, but it is always something special.” www.HCAmagazine.com

970.726.5231

The Most Experienced and Patient Fly Fishing Guides in Grand County!

Full Service Fly Shop & Outfitter in Fraser, CO 76981 US Highway 40, Unit 3 Fraser, CO 80442

WWW.FRASERFLYSHOP.COM

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“The Fraser is one of the top three most endangered rivers in the US. As water demands continue to grow on the Front Range, they will continue to look to the West Slope for water,” said shop owner Jeff Ehlert. “Sixtypercent is already being taken,

and they want to take another 15%. Dwight Eisenhower use to come to Fraser to fly fish. It would be a shame if we allow this river to be drained any more than it already has. Because of the reduced flows, the Fraser’s water temperature can get warm.

We advise carrying a thermometer and reeling it in when the water nears 65 degrees. This has not been a problem the past couple of years, thanks to a good snow pack, and this year is shaping up nicely too.” It’s not a far drive to hit the Fraser from Denver, but why not make a trip of it. Grand County overall, Winter Park, Tabernash, Kremmling, Hot Sulphur Springs, and Fraser offer many lodging options. Plan a trip in April or May, and beat runoff, or run up there in June; the HC fish are waiting!

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bout 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 Brian@hcamagazine.com if you want your lodge or guide service featured in an upcoming promotional marketing plan.

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High Country Angler • Spring 2017

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TU

& Partners Launch Fraser River Habitat Improvement

by Kirk Klancke

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roblems facing the Fraser River began as far back as the 1850’s when the Prior Appropriation Doctrine was adopted by the Colorado Territory as the guiding document for distributing water. This Doctrine allows for all of the water in a river to be diverted if it can be put to a beneficial use by man—and it allows the water to be diverted to a completely different basin. It took until the early 1930’s for the people in the Fraser Valley to realize what the implications of this doctrine were. That is when the City of Denver started diverting water under the Continental Divide through the Moffat Water Tunnel. By the turn of the last century, over half of the native flows of the Fraser River in the Fraser Valley were being diverted to the Front Range. The remaining flows spread out wide and shallow, losing the velocity that it takes to keep sediment moving. The sediment deposition covered the 26

High Country Angler • Spring 2017

rocky bottom of the Fraser River and filled in the voids needed for macroinvertebrate habitat. With the bottom of the food chain declining, the trout population followed. A wide and shallow river also heats up much faster, and stream temperatures in the Fraser started reaching levels that were lethal to trout. Also at the turn of the century, Denver Water announced their intentions to build a project that would allow them to take more of the remaining flows in the Fraser River, leaving only 20% of the native flows. In 2005, American Rivers listed the Fraser River as the 3rd most endangered river in America. Immediately after that, National Trout Unlimited sent their attorney Mely Whiting to the Fraser Valley to help in the fight for fair mitigation with this new project. NTU, partnering with Colorado Trout Unlimited and the Colorado River Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited, spent years in www.HCAmagazine.com


advocacy and negotiations to reach a compromise with Denver Water. In exchange for TU’s support for their project, Denver agreed to provide millions of dollars for stream restoration work, over 1,000 acre feet of water for temperature mitigation, operation of their diversions to have more environmentally-friendly practices, and participation in an adaptive management program called Learning by Doing (LBD). LBD has since become a broader partnership of Front Range water diverters and West Slope water interests, including Trout Unlimited. The mission is to improve the health of the Fraser and Upper Colorado Rivers. This spring, LBD will embark on its first river habitat improvement project. This pilot project will improve the health of almost one mile of the Fraser River by reestablishing a depleted riparian habitat and reshaping a narrower and deeper streambed to maximize information or to volunteer, please contact Anna habitat provided by the Fraser’s reduced stream Drexler-Dreis at anna.drexlerdreis@western.edu flows. Freestone Aquatics has been hired to do or go to www.grandcountylearningbydoing.org. the stream channeling work, and the Headwaters HC Chapter, under the direction of Board member Anna Drexler-Dreis, will be taking on the planting of 4,000 willows to help establish a canopy for a healthy riparian zone. These willows will also help to give shade to the overheated river, while their bout roots will help to stabilize the stream banks. The Author. On May 6th, we hope to harvest willows from a Kirk Klancke is the President of source near the project, and on May 21 and 22 we the Colorado River Headwaters Chapter will be planting the willows on the project site. It of Trout Unlimited. He helped spearhead the will take many volunteers to accomplish our goals. long-standing local campaign to Save the Fraser River, and was named one of Field and Stream We are encouraging anyone passionate about Magazine’s 2011 Heroes of Conservation. improving the health of Colorado’s rivers to join us as we begin healing the impacts from decades of water diversions on the Fraser River. For more

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A Rancher’s Big Vision for Restoring the Colorado River By Randy Scholfield

A Rancher’s Big ing the Colorado Riv

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hen Paul Bruchez isn’t helping run his family’s multigenerational cattle ranch along the Upper Colorado River, he’s a fly fishing and hunting guide who dreams about wild trout and epic bug hatches. The tall, wiry young rancher is as comfortable talking about cattle-finishing innovations as he is talking about the latest river restoration techniques. That’s given him a fresh perspective on rural conservation and how to manage pastures and river flows to benefit both cattle and wild trout. “Irrigation and ranchers benefit as much from a healthy river as fish and habitat,” he says. “A healthy river is a victory for everybody.” In recent years, Bruchez and his rancher neighbors (who call themselves the Irrigators Living in the Vicinity of Kremmling, or ILVK) launched an ambitious effort to upgrade local ranch irrigation systems along a 10-mile stretch of Colorado River, with an eye to both improving water delivery and restoring river habitat. The Colorado has been in decline for years due to several factors, including diversions through the Continental Divide to growing Front Range cities and towns. Over the years, those diversions and changing dynamics of the river dramatically dropped flows and left ranchers’ irrigation system intakes high and dry. But Bruchez quickly realized that this was more than an irrigation fix. A study by a Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologist found seriously degraded aquatic habitat in this stretch of river, including the loss of key health indicators such as riffle structure and stoneflies. The riffles and bugs had disappeared and been replaced with sediment, eroded banks, and what Bruchez called 28

High Country Angler • Spring 2017

“frog water”—slow, murky and mossy. Looking at the degraded stretch left Bruchez wondering, “What happened to our river?” One problem was miles upstream: the construction of the Windy Gap Reservoir decades ago had interrupted natural rivermaintaining processes and led to sedimentation of the river cobble. Tackling these landscape-level problems, Bruchez realized, required a larger vision and partners. He organized the ranch community and convinced them of the need to put together a comprehensive irrigation and river restoration plan for their stretch of the Colorado. He also began talking with Trout Unlimited and American Rivers, who helped connect him to resources and expertise. Together, the group put together some pilot projects to begin restoring river habitat. On a neighbor’s ranch just outside of Kremmling, the partners rechanneled the river toward the center, and brought in gravel and rocks to rebuild a point bar and reconstruct a riffle, helping to oxygenate the water and provide cooler refuge for trout in the pool. At the same time, the narrower channel backs up the water upstream, making it more available for irrigation intakes. “It looks fishy now,” says Bruchez. “This will be an exciting place to fish.” The bugs have been coming back. In fact, Paul took a mason jar of the big stoneflies and other bugs—like some homegrown canned goods—to a meeting of the Colorado Basin Roundtable, a local water planning group for the state. Paul’s message: This is what river conservation success looks like. With a little help, the bugs will return, and with them, the foundation of the entire www.HCAmagazine.com


g Vision for Restorver

food chain in the river. “This is a huge win for the Colorado River,” Drew Peternell, “These bugs will replenish themselves fairly quickly once the director of Trout Unlimited’s Colorado Water Project, said of river is restored,” he said. the $7.75 million grant award. “We’re seeing an exciting and Bruchez and partners’ big vision for the Upper Colorado— ambitious conservation vision for the upper Colorado become called the Colorado River Headwaters Project—received a huge reality. With this funding, we’ll be able to put the ecosystem boost in December, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s pieces of the upper Colorado River back together and restore the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced river and its trout fishery to health.” $7.75 million in funding for their slate of projects to address the Bruchez says he’s learned a lot about collaboration and what impacts of trans-mountain diversions of water, and revitalize it takes to make change happen. “I’ve learned that the interests of miles of the Upper Colorado. ranchers can align with the interests of conservation groups, state Funded by the NRCS’s Regional Conservation Partnership agencies, water providers, and other river users,” says Bruchez. Program (RCPP), the Headwaters Project will create a one- “And I’ve learned that by working together and thinking big, we mile bypass channel at Windy Gap Reservoir to reconnect the can find creative solutions that keep the Colorado River healthy Colorado River. Restoring a connected river channel will not and working for all of us.” only restore fish passage, but also allow natural movement Other Headwaters Project partners who will provide of gravels and river bed materials, helping refresh and restore assistance include the ILVK, Northern Water Conservation aquatic habitat for miles downstream. District, Denver Water, Colorado River Conservation District, Farther downstream near Kremmling and Bruchez’ ranch, Middle Park Soil Conservation District, Colorado Water the Colorado River Headwaters Project will keep the restoration Conservation Board, Grand County, and Colorado Parks HC momentum going by creating more riffle-and-pool structures and Wildlife. and other channel work that will improve water delivery while enhancing fish habitat. When fully implemented over the next five years, the Headwaters Project will improve more than 30 miles of habitat in Randy Scholfield is Trout Unlimited’s Director of the Colorado River, keep water flowing to some 4,500 acres of irrigated lands, and Communications for the Southwest Region. He make available up to 11,000 acre-feet of lives in Louisville, CO. water to sustain the river during low-flow conditions.

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bout The Author.

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A GUIDE’S LIFE

BY HAYDEN MELLSOP

Sacred Spaces

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hat last morning I rose while camp was still in shadow, and shaking my water jug to break up the ice, I brewed a mug of tea. Looking around, I placed my chair in the spot I guessed the sun would most likely reach first. Swathed in down and fleece, I sat and watched as to the west, Loco-

campfire, no conversation or closing of doors or starting of engines. I thought briefly about staying another day. I had plenty of food, more than enough scotch, and miles of stream yet to explore. I could drive a couple of hours to where I had cell phone reception, call or text to say I’d be back the next day, but by then the spell would be broken….my connection with the outside world re-established. I finished my tea, cooked breakfast, then began to pack for the return. Leaving the campsite, I watched the road climb steeply to the north. On a left hand bend I pulled into a turnout, on to a gently sloping bluff overlooking the valley. Centered on the bluff, a split rail fence marked off a small enclosure. Inside, a mound of rocks lay at the foot of a headstone, and a small Stars and Stripes hung limp in the cold of morning. I turned off the engine and went and stood before the grave. The headstone read, “Jacob Sattler, Pvt., US Army, May 1881.” Little is known about Pvt. Jacob Sattler, save what is inscribed on his headstone. His remains were

motive Mountain glowed orange against a cloudless sky, and the morning light fingered its way unhurried down the valley toward me. Overnight had been cold—enough to frost the ground and freeze the water in my five gallon jug, but not sufficient to ice the slow edges of bout The Author. the stream. The only sounds were the Hayden Mellsop is an expat New Zealander murmur of the creek and the caw of a living in the mountain town of Salida, Colorado, crow—heard, but not seen. on the banks of the Arkansas River. As well as being a The hunters had left overnight, semi-retired fly fishing guide, he juggles helping his wife leaving just me—apparently alone in raise two teenage daughters, along with a career in real the vastness of the countryside—no waft of smoke from a neighboring estate.

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discovered streamside below the bluff nearly a hundred years after his death, and were relocated here, where he was interred with full military honors. He’d set out from Fort Garland—approximately eighty miles away as the crow flies—one spring morning to hunt, and never returned. A forensic examination of his remains suggested that he’d died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. What drove him to such an extreme? Loneliness? Fear? Grief? Some speculate an encounter with Ute Indians. Perhaps after 35 years of active service during the Civil War and Indian Wars, he was just worn out. Nowadays we call it PTSD. I wondered who he left behind‌.who, if anyone, had grieved for him. He died in a beautiful place. Looking up-valley, the morning sunlight reflected off snatches of the creek below as it cut its course from west to east. As it disappeared into the canyon below and beyond, I could just make out a widening, and the promise of another meadow in the distance. The snow-capped San Juans etched the southern horizon; the countryside in between dazzled with a dense maze of light and shadow, forest and fissure. I thought of how this view would have last looked to Jacob Sattler—no roads, no distant cabin, no easy way out; just vast and wild—a beautiful landscape that could, in a heart beat, turn savage and uncompromising; a world capable of shattering whatever moral or spiritual compass one adhered to, in the blink of an eye. Places that once were canvases on which, sketched in colors most primal, survival depended on a sharp eye and a steady hand, have www.HCAmagazine.com

become playgrounds—places to muse while sipping scotch in comfort, or to don orange caps and drive around in fancy toys with rifles slung, alerting every piece of game within miles. And yet, in the deeper, darker recesses, traces of wildness still survived. I wondered if he minded the

occasional intrusion, rubberneckers like me dropping by. Aloud I spoke, “May you rest in peace,� and walked back to my truck. As is my wont when returning from places such as this, I took my time as I contin- HC ued on up the rutted road toward home.

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Matching Mayflies: Part Two

ing the bottoms of summer streams like the buffalo herds of days gone by, and the Hex hatches rising late each Spring to blot out the moon over the great lakes. Trout will actively track and target mayflies through their entire life cycle, picking nymphs from among the rocks, chasing after emerging mayfly nymphs as they frantically swim towards the surface, and greeting the mayfly spinners with open mouths as they return to the water to lay their eggs and die. Coming from waters crowded with mayfly species and walking into a fly shop with battalions of fly displays lining the walls can overwhelm even the most seasoned angler. For those looking to simplify matching mayflies through their life cycle, look no further than our Deadly Dozen Mayflies. By changing up the size and color of these proven patterns, the fly fisher can match a multitude of mayfly species across the country, becoming a force to be reckoned with and feared he importance of the mayfly in the diet of by trout wherever they wet a line! trout cannot be overstated. In my work as an aquatic biologist studying and sampling trout waters bout The Author. across the country, I’ve seen popPeter Stitcher is an Aquatic Biologist and owner ulations of Blue Winged Olive of Ascent Fly Fishing. Originator of the Biologist mayfly nymphs crowding Rocky Crafted Fly Selection, Peter and his team build their clients’ Mountain streambeds in numfly selections specific to the bugs in the waters they fish, bers topping 1,200 nymphs per when they fish them. You can contact Peter or restock square meter, slow moving herds your fly box at: www.ascentflyfishing.com. of green drake nymphs cover-

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High Country Angler • Spring 2017

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Mayfly Nymph Patterns

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ayfly nymph patterns are typically tied to straight shank hook in sizes 12-22, but can be tied to hooks as large as a size 6. Accounting for 99.9% of the life of the mayfly, nymph patterns are four-season trout favorites and will be effective on both lakes and rivers at every elevation. Nymph patterns usually have a tightly wrapped thin profile, include hair or pieces of feather that imitate a tail and legs, and often incorporate metal bead heads and wire ribs to help the fly sink.

BH FLASHBACK PEASANT TAIL Dry/Wet:  Wet Fly Category: Generalist Pattern Color: Natural, Olive, Black Life Cycle: Nymph Hook Size: 12-22

BH FLASHBACK HARES EAR Dry/Wet:  Wet Fly Category: Generalist Pattern Life Cycle: Nymph Hook Size: 12-22

BH PRINCE NYMPH Dry/Wet:  Wet Fly Category: Attractor Pattern Life Cycle: Nymph Hook Size: 12-20

BH RAINBOW WARRIOR Dry/Wet:  Wet Fly Category: Attractor Pattern Life Cycle: Nymph Hook Size: 12-20

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Spring 2017 • High Country Angler

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GREG’S EMERGER Dry/Wet:  Wet Fly Category: Generalist Pattern Color: PMD, Olive, Grey, Black Life Cycle: Emerging Nymph Hook Size: 14-22

CHOCOLATE THUNDER Dry/Wet:  Wet Fly Category: Generalist Pattern Life Cycle: Emerging Nymph Hook Size: 18-22

GLITTERWING RSII Dry/Wet:  Wet Fly Category: Generalist Pattern Color: Grey, Olive, Black Life Cycle: Emerging Nymph Hook Size: 14-22

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High Country Angler • Spring 2017

Emerging Mayfly Nymph Patterns

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mitating one of the most vulnerable life cycles of the mayfly, trout eagerly pursue and feed upon the emerging mayfly nymphs in the journey between the sanctuary of the streambed and the refuge of the air. Often tied to a curved shank hook to better match the swimming profile of the nymph, emerging nymph patterns may also include some material tied to the back to imitate the wings of the dun starting to poke through the shuck.

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Emerging Mayfly Dun Patterns

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uspended half in and half out of the water, the emerging mayfly dun pattern imitates the mayfly as it transitions from wet to dry life cycles. The wings of these patterns are usually reduced in size while a clump of yarn off the back imitates the skin of the nymph being left in the surface of the water as the adult dun struggles into the air. This is the last chance for the trout to grab a mouthful of mayfly until they return to the water in their spinner life cycle.

SPARKLE DUN Dry/Wet:  Wet Fly Category: True-Fly Pattern Color: BWO, Trico, PMD, Sulphur, Green Drake Life Cycle: Emerging Dun Hook Size: 12-22

Mayfly Dun & Spinner Patterns

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atching the sailboat-like profile of the natural with their wings held tall above their back, the defining characteristic of mayfly dun and spinner patterns are the parachute, splitwing, and comparadun-type wings tied perpendicular to the shank of the hook. While only lasting 4-48 hours, trout will gorge themselves on the dun and spinner mayflies as they cover rivers and lakes in some of the most prolific and anticipated hatches of the year.

PARACHUTE ADAMS Dry/Wet:  Dry Fly Category: Generalist Pattern Life Cycle: Dun or Spinner Hook Size: 12-22

ROYAL WULFF Dry/Wet:  Dry Fly Category: Attractor Pattern Life Cycle: Dun or Spinner Hook Size: 12-18

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High Country Angler • Spring 2017

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LIGHT CAHILL CDC COMPARADUN Dry/Wet:  Dry Fly Category: Generalist Pattern Life Cycle: Dun or Spinner Hook Size: 12-18

Spent Spinner Patterns

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fter mating in flight, the male spinners will rain down across the lake or river followed soon after by the females who expire immediately after depositing their eggs through the surface of the water. In death, their once-proud wings relax at their sides, laying flat on the surface of the water. The carcasses of spent spinners are then gathered by the current as they bump downstream, creating clumps of mayflies that can entice even the most reluctant trout for one final rise.

RUSTY SPINNER Dry/Wet:  Dry Fly Category: Generalist Pattern Life Cycle: Spent Spinner Hook Size: 16-20

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ou don’t need to stock every hot new mayfly pattern pushed by the local fly shop. When in doubt or looking for some go-to mayfly patterns, look no further than the deadly dozen mayflies, and get HC ready for tight lines!

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Spring 2017 • High Country Angler

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Defined by a Fish, not a Disease! Michelle Nauer, as told to John W. Nelson

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hen the Montrose, Colorado, Water Sports Park opened last year, many “disabled veteran” kayakers were invited to inaugurate this new recreational facility. None showed up! Instead, a wild, raucous, and enthusiastic group of courageous veterans who happened to have disabilities provided excitement and encouragement for everyone—participants and spectators alike. Frequently, those with disabilities, disease, and physical difficulties define themselves by their problems—not by who they are. Such is often the case with breast cancer survivors. Cancer is what they had, not who they are. There is a wonderful group that combats this tendency and does so by teaching breast cancer survivors how to fly-fish. Attempting to fool and hook a slimy finned animal with a brain the size of 38

High Country Angler • Spring 2017

a pea might sound like a fool’s errand, but it works. Colorado Casting for Recovery (CfR) hosts outdoor retreats gratis to participants, to assist, encourage and re-energize women who are recovering from breast cancer. It is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and the program works spectacularly. Begun in 2003, CfR retreats take women away from the medical environment and puts them into nature. The retreats include counseling, the sharing of experiences, medical education, and of course, guidance on how to fly fish. The fishing guides are experts, and the experience is unforgettable and overwhelmingly positive. Learn more about this wonderful organization of Good Samaritans by calling 303-746-4582 or emailing to marlene@wolskycollins.com. The Colorado State Coordinators are Marlene Collins and Peggy www.HCAmagazine.com


Stevinson. Michelle Nauer is Clerk & Recorder for Ouray County, CO, and has a medical history remarkable only because she survived. After two encounters with breast cancer, she is surely a poster child for how to define oneself—not as a victim but as a remarkable and courageous lady. She attended a CfR retreat last October, and while working on the most invigorating and antagonistic election in recent memory, she proudly displayed on her phone the most gorgeous rainbow trout one could behold. It was the largest caught at the Redstone Retreat this year. While otherwise modest and unassuming, this survivor was excited beyond description, especially when she graphically described how the magnificent fish swam away after its release: “It was more than just a fish. It was a release—of letting go of the horror of what I have endured. Like that fish, which swam upstream and fought like the dickens, I guess I have done the same!” Any program that can engender that kind of enthusiasm, respect, and over-all great mental attitude in a person who has suffered severe medical challenges and responsibilities is worthy of support from all of us. Thank you, CfR, for what you do, even if it does put more fly fishers on HC my rivers.

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First Cast by John St. John

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t is late Saturday afternoon in the last week of July. The Yampa River is running a clear 310 cfs. Just upstream from where I stand, the river bends a little to the left, and then drops over a nearly river-wide shallow riffle. After the riffle, the main current hits the left bank, and slowly turns right into a slow-moving, waist-deep pool about forty yards long before running onto the next riffle. The left bank is undercut with an overhanging willow cluster that runs along the bank for the most part, along with two large mature cottonwoods that are throwing afternoon shade on a big chunk of the run. It is very, very fishy water. I smell wild mint, and look down till I see a cluster of short plants with sharp edged leaves. I grab a small bunch of stems and leaves, and hold them to my nose. I put them in my pocket thinking I might use them later in a boat drink. This is the kind of day you think happens all the time when you’re in the middle of it. I can’t help but whistle the Chicago tune “Saturday in the Park, think it was the 4th of July.” I think to myself that today has the potential to be a day I remember somewhere down the road. I wet wade out over rounded rocks till I’m in slowmoving, thigh-deep water on the inside. I spend a minute looking at the river again. There are a couple of Sallies and caddis in the air, backlit by the sun. I haven’t seen a head since I’ve been out. I decide to go with a hopper that has a turkey wing, and a wide griz40

High Country Angler • Spring 2017

zly hackle parachute. I like this bug. It sits high on the water, and is easy to skate. I strip out fifty or so feet of line, and work out a cast to the spot where the faster current over the riffle hits the slow-moving pool—creating a long, distinct seam. My hopper heads down the seam innocently enough, and I twitch it like I mean it. I get the reaction I hope for. Not a second later, a big head launches out of the water, and lands on top of the yellow calf tail indicator nose first, with a splash. I lift up, get tight, and a moment later he and his big head launches again out of the river, and runs for the far bank. He’s on the reel, working line out against the drag. I keep my left hand away from the action. With my right hand, I keep the rod tip pointed up in a steep angle. He’s determined to reach the other side. He launches a third time, carrying so much speed that I think he might beach himself. He spins to the right, and heads downstream. The fly line hums against the guides. He turns towards my side of the river, finds some slack in the line, and

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bout The Author.

John St. John is the owner of Hog Island Boat Works in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. You can reach him via their website at www.hogislandboatworks.com. www.HCAmagazine.com


accelerates. I strip in line fast, extending my left hand as far as I can. I find myself biting line to stay tight. I think for a moment or two that I have his head, but this is not the case. He gets in front of me— close enough that I see his elongated bowling pin shape—and a dark red stripe down his side. He turns away, and accelerates downriver away from where I stand. I play line out till he is back on the reel, and start to follow him wading downstream. I’m a 170 lb. anchor to his escape. He’s to my left, moving downstream for the next riffle. I drop the rod tip to my right, and pull it back in an effort to steer him my way. It feels like I’m turning an old truck without power steering. It’s slow going, but he’s coming around. I’m reeling in line pretty steady. He gets out about 15 feet in front of me, and runs back into the middle of the river. I turn him back my way, and he swims in a circle. When he starts to make another circle I turn his head downstream with the current, and swing him with some momentum very close to me. I step back a half dozen or so steps into shin deep water to net him. He’s thick across his back, and heavy as a brick. I lift the rod tip high to get his head a little out of the water, and get the net under his body. He has the hopper pinned hard in the corner of his jaw. It’s barbless, and I back it out quickly. I take a picture I like, and drop the net in the water, and watch him blast off downstream. The whole thing happens in under four minutes, but I know that it will be much longer when I remem- HC ber it in the Winter.

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FIT TO BE TIED

BY JOEL EVANS

Beam Me Up!

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nergize! Fans of the show Star Trek are highly familiar with this command to energize the transporter machine, which instantly moved people from one place to another. Similarly, Ross Reels has been energized. As a long time designer and builder of quality fly fishing reels, a few years ago Ross Reels and Abel Reels were acquired by Mayfly Outdoors, which headquarters in Montrose, Colorado. Since then, both of these reel lineups have brought significant innovation and excitement to the industry. A similar parallel could be told for the Uncompahgre River, which has been energized by the building of Ridgway Dam 15 years ago. Historically only at best a mediocre trout fishery, the now cleaner and Uncompahgre Caddis colder water has improved the fishery and prompted several river restoration projects Hook: #14 Tiemco 206BL (or any curved hook, in sizes 14-18) Bead: 2.3mm tungsten - black on public water in the area. Weight: .015” lead wire Put Ross Reels and the Uncompahgre in Thread: Uni 8/0 - light olive the same package and you have a recently Dubbing (abdomen): fine synthetic dubbing - P.M.D./light olive Rib: Ultra Wire BR - gold/olive announced project by Ross Reels, called Dubbing (thorax): Hare’s ear - olive Colorado Outdoors, working with the Hot spot thread: Uni 8/0 - fire orange community on a new business park which includes acreage along the Uncompahgre, and over a mile of river restoration in the and tested and revised his fly to complete the energizcity limits of Montrose. ing of his caddis nymph pattern. Enter Craig Baker, vice president of Ross and Abel Readers should note the video – not a photo. In it, Reels. Along with the newly-energized company, Craig Craig himself not only demonstrates and narrates the transplanted to Montrose and began exploring the Un- tying of the pattern, but talks along the way about why compahgre. While it is true that caddis are everywhere, he incorporates certain features and materials, as well every fly tyer is eager to innovate and match their local as how he fishes the fly. Craig is an advocate of long variation. After digging around in the rocks and the rods and competition-style leaders—typically long and muck of the Uncompahgre bug debris, Craig worked hand built—which camouflage the leader and telegraph the take of the nymph. Start with the pattern as Craig ties it, and work it a few spring days on your lobout The Author. cal river. Joel Evans is a fly fishing writer, photographer, Experiment. Change hook size, color, and long-time member of Trout Unlimited from bead, thread….adapt it to suit your water. Montrose, CO. You can contact him via the HCA editor at That’s the fun of fly tying. Energize! HC frank@hcamagazine.com.

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Sportsmen’s Voices Heard: Keep Public Land Public! By Jeff Florence

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n a political world with constant noise, constant negativity, and constant attacks on public lands, reasons for sportsmen to cheer can seem few and far between. But sportsmen were given a key victory early in February. On February 1, US Rep. Jason Chaffetz (RUT) withdrew his bill, HR 621, that would have sold off some 3 million acres of federal lands, including more than 90,000 in Colorado. Though we never saw a final listing of exactly which lands were going to be sold, the loss of public land and the habitat and access that they provide was a major concern. Why the change of heart? Rep. Chaffetz said that he heard the voices of sportsmen and women.

In a statement on his Instagram account, Rep. Chaffetz said, “I am withdrawing HR 621. I’m a proud gun owner, hunter, and love our public lands. The bill would have disposed of small parcels of lands Pres. Clinton identified as serving no public purpose, but groups I support and care about fear it sends the wrong message. The bill was originally introduced several years ago. I look forward to working with you. I hear you and HR 621 dies tomorrow.” (emphasis added) “We are pleased that Representative Chaffetz changed course on his effort to sell public lands and we thank him for listening to the voices of sportsmen and women,” responded Trout Unlimited CEO Chris Wood. “Across the country we have seen a groundswell of support for our bout The Author. public lands, and selling them off Jeff Florence is Colorado Trout Unlimited’s cheats not only this generation Administrative and Communications Assistant. but all those who follow.” A Metro State graduate, Jeff also works to support

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While the threat to our public lands remains, the withdrawal of HR 621 makes it clear that the voice of hunters and anglers is strong, and we can make a difference when we speak out. Trout Unlimited will continue to send petitions, letters to state and federal leaders, and give sportsmen and women a platform for their voice to be heard in defending the public lands that are so critical to our opportunities to hunt and fish. To all of you who have helped speak out on this issue, recently and throughout the past few years, thank HC you—and keep it up!

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Native Sounds: Clear Creek & Sunrise Anglers By Colton Gully

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olorado TU intern Colton Gully spent much of summer 2016 learning about Colorado’s native greenback cutthroats and the people who work with them – capturing photos and video footage, interviewing biologists, volunteers, business owners, and others. The result: a new series of brief videos and podcasts in a series called “Native Sounds.” We will be sharing stories from the series over the coming months – starting with a visit to Clear Creek with Sunrise Anglers. Tom Schneider came to CU-Boulder in the 1980s and fell in love with Colorado’s landscape and espe-

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o Learn More.

To learn more about this story and Colorado Trout Unlimited, visit coloradotu.org/loved-to-death/

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cially its rivers. As the owner of Sunrise Anglers, he gets the chance to share that love with his clients and hopes that he helps instill in them some of that same love – and the sense of stewardship that comes with it. He characterizes his goal as a guide as cultivating personal connections with clients to ensure that they not only catch fish, but remember and appreciate the peace that flows through rivers into humans, all the while preserving those ecosystems for future generations. Tom gives back to the resource in various ways – from a regular donation to Colorado TU’s annual River Stewardship Gala, to participating as a volunteer with projects in the Clear Creek drainage. He’s proud of his conservation volunteer work, including in 2015 when he and other volunteers went to Herman Gulch to catch and transplant trout into downstream sections of Clear Creek, in preparation for Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s reintroduction of greenback cutthroat trout in Herman Gulch. It wasn’t long before he got the chance to see the benefits of those efforts firsthand. “The Division clipped most www.HCAmagazine.com


of their adipose fins when they dropped them back in,” explained Tom. “Last fall … we were catching those same fish that we took out of Herman Gulch on the mainstem.” Tom worries about the level of pressure on the upper Clear Creek fishery and habitat, limiting his own use of guide permits for the water as he tries to strike a balance between sharing the experience with guests while not putting too much strain on the fishery resource. “It’s that case of loving something so much to death, and that’s what I kind of fear,” Tom said. “Sometimes you just don’t HC go in certain years.”

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CTU River Conservation Youth Camp By Jeff Florence

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he 2017 River Conservation and Fly Fishing effects on the Rocky Mountains. Youth Camp will take place on June 11-16 at In addition, the camp will include hands-on Bar N I Ranch near Weston, Colorado. The classes such as fly tying, fly casting, streamside ethics, camp is designed to educate 14- to 18- year- old stu- angling literature, streamside botany, wader safety dents on the importance of coldwater conservation, and survival, and the evolution of an angler. Students and provide hands-on fly fishing instruction. will also participate in a watershed project to repair “Our hope is that kids who attend our camp today habitat in a nearby stream. will become the conservation leaders of tomorrow,” “In today’s world, fisheries conservation prosaid Shawn Bratt, a veteran youth camp counselor grams can be vast and vague. It is important that and winner of National Trout Unlimited’s award for conservation organizations like Trout Unlimited Outstanding Youth Education Volunteer. “It’s im- focus their efforts intelligently and appropriately. portant for these students to understand the value of Programs like the CTU Youth Camp are well worth healthy streams and clean water, and how they relate the time, money, and commitment,” said Tyler Bowto our everyday lives. The camp curriculum has been man, with the CU-Boulder Fishing Club and a Youth structured to provide the necessary foundation for Camp alumni. “The key to future conservation efthat education.” Camp classes include principles of ecology, hydro-geology, aquatic . vertebrate and invertebrate samJeff Florence is Colorado Trout Unlimited’s pling, hydrology, trout behavior, Administrative and Communications Assistant. trout stream entomology, the bioloA Metro State graduate, Jeff also works to support gy of pollution, acid deposition, and Colorado TU’s youth education programs. politics of conservation and human

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forts is teaching today’s youth the importance of www.coloradotu.org, and to contact Jeff Florence stewardship, and there is no better program than the for information, at JFlorence@tu.org by April 15th, CTU Youth Camp to accomplish these goals.” 2017. The camp registration cost is $450 but there “Our campers have gone on into careers in sci- are chapter-sponsored scholarships available HC ence, law, engineering, and other pursuits. Because I for some students. have stayed in touch with many of them over the years, I know that our graduates not only continue to enjoy fly fishing, but they main38339 US Hwy 50 tain their interest in river conserGunnison, CO 81230 vation, and many participate in 970.641.1442 Trout Unlimited projects and in TU chapter activities,” said Dick Shinton, Youth Camp Volunteer. “One young man has started a TU chapter at his university and has • Walking distance to the gold-medal thus involved many other young waters of the Gunnison River people in TU conservation projects and fly fishing. One of our • Near Blue Mesa Reservoir campers returned several times as • Vintage charm and ambiance a youth counselor; she’s now a fullfledged adult volunteer member of • Great outdoor space our staff. Another was on the USA • Multiple room layouts National Youth Fly Fishing Team that won a world championship. • Fully stocked kitchens This program works.” • Spacious boat parking, including If you know a young person who would benefit from CTU’s free long-term for multiple stays Youth Camp, please encourage them to apply for the 2017 camp with the application available at

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Donor Spotlight A conversation with River Stewardship Council member, Steve Craig Colorado Trout Unlimited is pleased to announce a new High Country Angler ezine feature, “Donor Spotlight”. Each issue we’ll introduce you to a new member of our flagship donor program, the River Stewardship Council (RSC). Donors to RSC contribute $1000 or more annually to Colorado TU and provide critical support for our work on native trout restoration, grassroots engagement, youth education, and advocacy on behalf of healthy watersheds. • Steve Craig • TU member for 30 years • Donor for nearly 20 years

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What brought you to Trout Unlimited? I’ve been a Trout Unlimited member for nearly 30 years. In the mid-1980’s, I was getting ready to retire in Colorado Springs and was looking for something meaningful to devote some of my time to. I went to a Cheyenne Mountain Chapter meeting and was hooked, as they say. After a few years, I became the Chapter President and served in a leadership role with Cheyenne Mountain until moving to Salida in 1995. During my time in Chaffee County, I continued to serve my local Chapter in a variety of leadership roles and also expanded my commitment to Trout Unlimited to volunteering at all levels of the organization. From Collegiate Peaks Chapter President to the

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Executive Director of the Colorado Council to the Colorado Council Board President, I have served nearly twenty-five years in leadership positions with Trout Unlimited in Colorado. I even served a stint on both the National Resource Board and the National Leadership Council for our national Trout Unlimited organization.

Why did you become a donor to Colorado Trout Unlimited? As I got more and more involved with Trout Unlimited at a variety of levels, I was pleased with the quality of the leadership and the efficient use of funds. I was committed to resource conservation and understood the need for funds that went to sustaining the organization. I first became a donor at the Century Club level and over the years increased my giving to the River Stewardship Council level. I currently donate to both Colorado TU and to national Trout Unlimited through the Griffith Circle. I strongly believe in both the mission and the effectiveness of TU at both levels and so I contribute to both each year.

What are some of the projects Colorado TU works on that interest you most? I have always found the native trout story compelling. From the ongoing story of the Greenback cutthroat to restoration projects that improve habitat for native trout around the state, that is really important work. At the state level, I have paid close attention to the issues surrounding instream flows and TU’s work as a strong advocate for ensuring that enough water remains in our streams and rivers to ensure healthy trout populations. At the national level, I am a big supporter of public lands. I grew up fishing on public lands and feel like sportsmen really need to make their voices heard in support of keeping public lands in public hands.

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Please tell us one of your favorite fishing stories. About ten years ago, I was fishing on a small tributary of the Rio Grande. The stream couldn’t have been more than 6 or 8 feet across and wasn’t even a foot deep. I had been keeping my eye on a newly built beaver pond when I saw a large shadow move from under the bank. I was fishing a foam ant on a 3 wt. when all of a sudden a 22 inch brown took the fly. He battled for nearly ten minutes but when I brought him in, I was just struck by how beautiful he was. I was not expecting to catch a fish like that on that little stream, and it was just a great feeling to know he was in there!

Please tell us a little about yourself. I was born in southwestern Nebraska. My father was in the Army, serving in World War II, so we moved a lot when I was young. My grandparents were in Denver so my grandfather would take me out fishing from the time I was 9 or 10. We’d go up to some high mountain streams and spend the day fishing for trout. Those days were just magic for me! After attending the University of Nebraska, I joined the Navy, serving for 25 years, and ending up in Colorado Springs. My wife, Tracy, and I raised two daughters during this time. While in the Navy in the 1960s and 1970s, I started to learn about the water pollution issues surrounding Naval installments, and it really got me interested in clean water advocacy and fisheries conservation. When I was getting ready to retire, I was introduced to the Cheyenne Mountain Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the connection between trout fishing and water advocacy really spoke to me. Volunteering and being a donor and a leader of Trout Unlimited in Colorado has been one of the greatest experiences of my life!

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Meeteetse Waters: Not For the Faint of Heart by Brian La Rue

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here can you really forget about The only challenges the Greybull and Wood River everything on your plate, drive dirt roads angler faces are the drive, hike, and more importantly, for hours and hours, hike for days and the amount of private water that you either must get go as far as you’d like, and enjoy what has been the a guide to fish, or that requires you to ask permission called some of the finest dry fly fishing for cutthroat in by calling or checking in with the folks at the local America? How about the waters near Meeteetse, WY? ranches….but good luck with that. The handful of This sleepy city is not that far from Denver—maybe people I talked to about this story said the phone a 1/2-day’s drive—but you’ll enjoy an impressive rings off the hook, but no one answers. When I was range of 13- to 22-inch cutthroat and unparalleled there this last summer, it wasn’t clear where the office backcountry views as you hike, cast, and hike again, was to ask. I’ve heard talk of rod fees, but no real pushing deep into the Absarokas. Don’t think that it contact information, or if they will still allow people will be that easy, though. permission to fish. I decided to drive the long, potFlowing about 90 miles before joining the Bighorn holed dirt road to the Forest Service Campground at at the town of Greybull, this river got its name the Jack Creek Trailhead, but I wasn’t disappointed. from the Native Americans who inhabited the area, Okay, from Meeteetse, follow the 290 into the hills. along with a very well-known albino bison that was As you drive, you’ll notice a reservoir with a chalkywhiteish-grey, thus Greybull. The river is home to one colored outflow, and you may start to wonder if you of the purest strains of Yellowstone cutthroat, so it is a made the right call. As you drive on past the reservoir, very important watershed for the future of the species. you notice clear flows, and another river worth fishing That means anglers should take great care when coming in to view with the Wood River. Things are fishing here, not to mention releasing fish. Throw starting to look up. Then you start following the in the Wood River and other no name waters in the signs to the Forest Service Campground. The drive is backcountry, and you could have a ball—that is, if you’re in for the long haul and you’re not afraid of hard work. Surrounded by the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem between Cody and Thermopolis, the area features soaring mountains, a drier, desolate appearance, and is home to an impressive list of big game species. These river’s cutties will attack an abundance of terrestrials, big attractors, and dries. Most traveling anglers fish it from about June through September, as it fishes very similar to the Lamar or Slough Creek, just a little skinnier and a much longer adventure. It is more turbulent than these two Cody/Yellowstone rivers, though; there are numerous Premier Flyfishing Outfitter cutbanks, bends, riffles, and North Fork Anglers • USFS WAP478 • BLM WYO20-RUO7-017 plunges to keep hike-in anglers www.northforkanglers.com Professionally Guiding busy all day—for multiple days. 1107 Sheridan Ave., Cody, WY 82414 • 307.527.7274 Anglers for 30+ Years!

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rough—very rough—and long. It takes a considerable amount of time, and is tough at times as you pass some beautiful private water. You then come to the private ranch and all the “permission signs.” It gets quite annoying as you pass a sign at each pullout and wonder how could it be. From here it is a long dirt road where you leave the river and climb high up the hillside a few times, making you wonder if you are on the right road. It’s on one of those roads that you hope you don’t bust an axle—plan ahead and bring your SUV or truck… no Prius or Accord here. Stick with it, though—it’s worth all the effort. Along the way on my day, I saw pronghorn, a golden eagle, and one of the biggest bull moose I’ve seen in the lower 48. You finally leave private land and enter the national forest. Below the campground, I tossed hoppers like Chaos, Beefcakes, and other large dries like orange and yellow Crystal Rubber Legged stimulators. At one point, maybe 11 in the morning on my early summer day, the hopper bite slowed and I noticed the surface

coming alive. I saw some big silhouettes on the surface, so I immediately dropped to look closely between the rocks, and hoped to see something I could match in a hurry. It was a huge green drake hatch. I flipped open my Day Tripper to my green drakes and began eliminating patterns trying to get it just right. I thought to myself, the Paradrake isn’t quite right, the Sprout…nah… okay, it is the Colorado Green Drake! It matched and soon was the choice bug. I was fishing a beautiful bend. The water came off a shallow run with some velocity, dropped off to hard right, opening into a steep-walled pool with about five feet of water running only about fifteen yards. There were fish rising at the head of the pool, along the wall on the opposite side, and at the tailout. I fished this hot spot for two hours and caught fifteen cutthroat with the largest coming on the Profile Green Drake towards the end of the hatch when the surface activity slowed. He ran about 20 inches, but was nearly outdone at the top of the pool when I decided to nymph a Green

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Drake Emerger after I felt I’d exhausted the dry bite. “Private waters downstream offer larger cutthroat, This last fish was pushing better than 20 inches, but he more hatches, and a larger aquatic environment for managed to throw the fly after a blistering run upriver the angler to experience,” added Wade. “Rod fees and that had me grinning from ear to ear. angler use are managed to provide a greater outdoor There is a ton of water upriver. It is the kind of experience without impacting spawning gravels, river valley where wranglers can take you back to the insect habitat, and bank erosion by waders upstream headwaters on horseback, but I have a strong feeling in the national forest. The fees are well worth the good waters are few and far between as things were price. Just you, your buddy, or significant other and already getting skinny. I saw 100 yards between decent wild native cutthroat for 6 to 8 hours. The Wood River water that looked fishy, so I feel it would be much the Lodge has private cabins on that fishery, but its three same as you climbed. It would be the kind of river to miles of water are strictly controlled, sometimes even wet wade, only crossing the river on rocks to get to closed to private access by the owner.” the other side, limiting time in the water or the river Digging a little deeper with Wood River Ranch, bank, as it would be a fragile environment. they currently report that they only take four trips I was by myself this day. If I had a buddy with me, I a year with at least a week of rest between trips. would’ve explored a lot more water and hiked upriver Wood River Ranch boasts one of the most exclusive 5 to 7 miles no problem. It is the ideal fishery to walk fly fishing destinations. The ranch’s river fishing is the river trail, casting from the trails versus wading in barbless, catch and release, fly fishing only when the river, and to keep pushing with an eye-catching open to its customers. Guides implement strict fish yellow hopper, ant, or salmon fly early in the season. handling techniques so they can ensure that it will Seems like more folks are discovering this river, as stay that fantastic for generations. Tim Wade at North Fork Anglers says the river was The Greybull and Wood Rivers are incredible once one of the best fisheries. The larger than average fisheries, but with limited access and a lot of effort fish here has fallen off as 27 inchers were once caught, required to get to public waters, you can imagine it but now Wade and the local ranchers are seeing more can be good. If I were planning a trip to the region, garbage in the river, and a 20-incher would be a I’d reach out to Tim Wade for help with the rivers, conversation piece now. Maybe if you try these waters, along with HCA’s good friend, Dan Pass for lodging you should help clean up the area, or book a day on in Thermopolis. Turn this trip into five days. Hit the private water. As a writer, I never like to highlight Windriver Canyon, Bighorn around Thermopolis, rivers that are susceptible to the effects of increased hit the Greybull for one night at the camp, and don’t pressure, but then again, our readers at High Country forget the Shoshone above Cody—the first river I Angler are caring folks who will help fisheries not highlighted something like eight years ago with High trash them. Let’s all do our part to make our prized Country Angler. Wow, how time flies. As always, fisheries even better! share your fishing pictures with us on Facebook or “It’s good that these rivers require extra effort and Instagram, or even e-mail a story of a recent trip to dedication to get to the public water,” said Wade from Brian@HCAmagazine.com, and we might HC his fly shop, North Fork Anglers in Cody. “Wild trout have room to share it with everybody. do not deserve to be bombarded sunup to sundown by hundreds bout The Author. of anglers. Especially small, fragile High Country Angler contributor Brian La rivers where trout numbers are Rue enjoys giving fly fishers ideas of where less than 300 per mile. Wading to go for an adventure. Feel free to reach out to Brian at impacts the banks and streambeds Brian@hcamagazine.com if you want your lodge or guide service tremendously in headwater featured in an upcoming promotional marketing plan. streams.

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HCA

GEAR BAG BY BRIAN LA RUE

MK REACHES NEW HEIGHTS WITH VERSATILE PEAK PULLOVER

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ountain Khakis has been offering quality, outdoors-oriented clothing for more than a decade. Designed by folks that love getting outside as much as you and I, Mountain Khakis casual and active wear is ideal for your next business meeting or for your next romp in the outdoors. I recently had the chance to sample some of the company’s latest outwear, so there will be no more objections from my better half when I wear a wading jacket to dinner. I had the opportunity to sample the Static Peak Pullover. Offered in three colors, Clover, Gunmetal and Maritime, the Static Peak appeals to my minimalist approach to fly fishing. Don’t get me wrong, I pack more than I need on any given day, but what gear makes it into my pack or on my back is another story. The Static Peak rolls into a tiny ball stowing away after clouds have passed or for those Rocky Mountain af-

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ternoon windy, thunderstorms when you need something to keep you warm so you can keep fishing. Yes, it is lightweight and wind resistant, but it also features numerous features outdoorsy folks have come to demand. There’s a handy security pocket for your keys, phone or snacks, a half zipper with a rollover chin-guard, and it is made of a rip-stop nylon and poly mix. I found the self-stuff zipping chest pocket to be ideal for an extra fly box or a cell phone for quick and easy access. You’ll also like the cuffs which are comfortable and somewhat tapered for a streamlined, classic fit. Lastly, a one-handed, draw-cord hem HC adds to the finishing touches of this pullover. For more information on this lightweight and attractive Mountain Khakis Static Peak Pullover, visit www.mountainkhakis.com or better yet, swing by the new store in Denver at 1412 Larimer Square, (303) 505-1566. You’ll be impressed with their entire lineup of men’s, women’s and even kid’s clothing and gear.

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THE LAST CAST

JOHN NICKUM

Can Trout Keep up with Climate Change?

Q

I have been hearing a lot about aquatic resource management projects employing “adaptive management” and “learning by doing,” where the management biologists look at results and then make adjustments in their procedures. Is “adaptive management” really an indication that the biologists/ managers can’t predict what will happen, or maybe don’t know what they are doing? Why can’t they make a plan and stick to it? Sometimes these resource management plans seem awfully close to political promises.

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Wow! These questions sure give me opportunities to explore several aspects of planning and resource management. So, where should I begin? I’m going to include an anecdote from the past, but first let’s discuss some basic characteristics of science, and describe the basic components of a resource management plan. Comparing political promises and the goals of science-based resource management plans should also be helpful. Science is an ongoing, selfcorrecting process, always based on evidence derived from systematic investigation; not platitudes, glittering generalities, or preferred results that support pre-conceived “solutions.” Sci58

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ence works to develop new understanding of our world and the natural things in it. It does not work to “prove” old beliefs and superstitions. Because new discoveries and new evidence may lead to re-interpretation of old ideas and conclusions, current understanding is not considered as final until it consistently predicts future results. Science always has some degree of uncertainty. The “hard sciences,” physics and chemistry, have very small elements of uncertainty, producing the same results time after time, with virtually no variability in outcomes. Chemical reactions under specific conditions are very predictable. The laws of physics are considered to be “laws” because they always function in the same way, unless experimental conditions are altered drastically. In contrast, biological systems, and especially ecological systems, are less predictable because they vary in specific details and conditions. Many years ago, when I was a young professor, I taught a course called “Environmental Conservation,” which was organized around ecological principles. The course became very popular, not only with resource management students, but with students from other majors who wanted an in-

troduction to applied ecological principles. The course’s popularity led to a standing invitation from the Dean of Engineering to provide an evening lecture on fundamental principles of environmental conservation for his engineering students. My presentation typically began by describing the basic components and sub-components in an ordinary pond ecosystem. Using simple graphics (boxes) to depict the array of plants, animals, and microorganisms in the pond, the blackboard was soon covered with little boxes. Drawing arrows (vectors) between the boxes to show interactions between the many boxes produced a visual jumble of information. I remembered that engineers frequently use similar diagrams to show standard physical systems; but their systems are rarely, if ever, as complicated as ecosystems, and are much more predictable. At this point in my presentation I could always expect one or more student hands to go up. Invariably, they would ask, “Why do you study systems that are so unpredictable? Isn’t it extremely frustrating?” The uncertainty that is par for the course with ecologists and biologists was far from what these young engineers expected. In order to deal with unwww.HCAmagazine.com


certainties and unpredictable events, resource management plans must be designed to detect and record variations, including the unanticipated as well as the anticipated. A well-designed resource management plan starts with a short, well-defined goal: a statement of what is to be accomplished. Statements of specific, measurable, and time-specific objectives then follow the goal statement. An objective in fisheries management might be: “increase the density of rainbow trout greater than 10 inches in length by 10% by 2019.” A general statement of objective, such as “a fish hooked with every cast” would not be an acceptable scientific objective, even though it might be an acceptable political platitude. The management plan would go on to describe methods and the standard sampling procedures used for obtaining accurate, representative data needed to evaluate success. The other major component would be the analytical and statistical procedures used to evaluate results. Given the complex structure of aquatic ecosystems and the long-term unpredictability of local weather conditions, fishery biologists recognize that it is impossible for them, even as experienced managers, to predict every event, every change that can influence results. It is www.HCAmagazine.com

completely efficient and reasonable to evaluate the results from the initial phases of a project, and then, as needed, make adjustments. Really this is how

resource management and research has always been done; but, in the modern world, we give it a name… adaptive HC management.

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bout 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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Protect Ou r Rivers, Colorado! When you hit the road for you r next fishing trip, show you r su pport for Colorado’s rivers by displaying this ultra-cool license plate on you r vehicle.

Trout Unlimited Colorado Denver 1536 Wynkoop Street Suite 320 Denver, CO 80202 Office: 303-440-2937

Donate just $25 to Colorado TU, and you are eligible for a “Protect Our Rivers” license plate (plus standard state specialty license plate fee and registration). Proceeds support on-the-ground river conservation and education programs through Colorado TU – your dollars go directly back to helping the rivers you love. Get your plate by visiting www.protectourrivers.net.

www.coloradotu.org

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