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SPRING Spring 20


Defending our Public Lands

Shades of Spring

TU Western Regional Rendezvous comes to Colorado in 2018 1







Located in the heart of the pastoral Elk River Valley, this 695± acre ranch features a secluded luxury riverfront home, outstanding trout fishing, fertile irrigated meadows, and panoramic views only 10 miles from Steamboat Springs.

Combining Yampa River and mountainous land, this 1,380± acre ranch stands out for its big fish, big game hunting and convenient location within 20 minutes of Steamboat Springs and the regional 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.



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Located just west of Big Timber, this 2,764± acre ranch sits in an exceptionally private, end-ofthe-road valley. 1.5± miles of the famed Yellowstone River and 8± miles of LIttle Timber Creek provide for excellent trout fishing.

8,670± sq. ft. log home perched above a trout-filled creek on 1,134± acres. Irrigated meadows and open range filled with native grass/wildflowers plus manager’s home, barn and outdoor riding arena. Equestrian’s dream!

Less than 12 miles from Pagosa Springs and the Stevens Field Airport, the Adams Ranch offers 535± acres adjacent to national forest and features 4,000± feet of both banks of the main stem of the San Juan River.













Dedicated to Land and Landowners Since 1946







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.

This Colorado high country ranch is nearly surrounded by national forest and features 1,378± acres (738± acres deeded) with excellent wildlife habitat, gentle topography, creek, ponds and recently constructed luxury home.

Circle 9 Spring Creek Ranch rests along the Jefferson River. Gorgeous scenery, miles of river and spring creek, irrigated ground, plentiful wildlife, and balanced agricultural operation complete this exceptional offering.










301.39± acres with national forest boundaries, three stocked trout ponds and East Fork river frontage. 9,500± sq. ft. master residence, guest and staff residences, and first-class equestrian improvements.

Located 25 miles east of Sun Valley’s airport, this scenic mountain ranch features 1,440± deeded acres, irrigated pastures, a comfortable home, and over one mile of a year-round trout stream. Adjacent to federal lands.

In the heart of the Tomichi Creek Valley with direct access to public land, the 205± acre South Parlin Ranch features an exceptional freestone fishery as it ribbons its way through irrigated meadows for approximately one mile.








8 8 8 . 5 5 7. 3 09 0


High Country Angler • Spring 2018



J ac k Tallo n & Frank M ar tin

C O NTENT C ONSU LTANT L ando n M ayer















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





B r i an L a R ue, S ales & M a r keting b r ian@ hc am agaz i 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 Cell: ( 719) 432- 8317






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






Frank Martin, Landon Mayer, Brian LaRue, Angus Drummond


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 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


Spring 2018 • High Country Angler



High Country Angler • Spring 2018


he transition into spring is one of my favorite times of year. While the landscape begins to show life, rivers and lakes begin to display the brilliant markings of the trout that call them home. That moment when you spot the lipstick red side of a quality bow or the yellow belly of a large brown will make any angler a believer of the thrill of the color hunt. 

Shades of Spring by Landon Mayer

While sometimes you will spot a trout whose color is on full display, a majority of the target will be hidden making you quickly realize how well the color of the trout blends into the river bottom. It is not uncommon for the appliance of color to look like a smudge or just a hint of color. In addition to only getting this hint of color the visual can also last for just a split second. This is why it is important to scan a zone you believe trout are holding for at least 60 seconds. This will help you identify the fish and know where to make the delivery so it is seen by the target. Let’s take a close look at the following tips that will help you locate color on your next trout hunt.

Spring 2018 • High Country Angler



The Line Down A majority of the trout’s markings are from the lateral line down. Whether it is a red strip of a rainbow, the orange fins of a cutthroat, or the yellow belly of a brown, they are all designed to help the fish camouflage into their surroundings. This is important to know as an angler because when you are positioned above the water surface you view the trout from an

Body Parts The first and most important things to look for are the most visible parts of the trout’s body; they are closer to the surface and thus easier to detect. I always hunt for the top of the tail or the dorsal fin. Another advantage in locating these body parts, especially the tail, is that they move when the trout holds its position against the current or swims as if in a still water. In dark water or locations with contrasting colors of water, the white of the trout’s mouth is a big giveaway to the fish’s location and a sign that it is actively feeding. I have found over the years that I sometimes see brighter colors of orange or pink inside the fish’s mouth. This is most common in large trout that have a high-protein diet, which changes the pigmentation of a trout’s body and the inside of its mouth. Instead of relying on body color to see fish, I look for mouth color of trout that are either feeding or so big that the inside of the lower jaw is exposed even when the trout attempts to close its mouth. Pectoral fins are another giveaway of holding trout. Because much of the trout’s belly color extends down into the pectoral fins, these objects are often exposed. Some of the best times to hunt trout are early and late in the day; these times supply great angled light that will penetrate the translucent fins, giving away the hidden target.


High Country Angler • Spring 2018

angle near 45 degrees down. The refraction of light below the waters surface will lift that angle to 30 degrees or so. This makes the trout’s back more visible not the underside.

Back Support The top any trout’s body is designed to blend in with the river bottom, unlike the brightly colored undercarriage. It is common that the dark shades of blue, green, and browns will stand out in the river especially when it contrasts against a light portion of the river bottom. In the spring locating the dark targets of blue and green will help you not only locate more trout, you can also identify what species the trout is from the blue back of a rainbow, the green back of a brown, and a brown back of a cutthroat. Imagine a picture of a trout with a dark outline and detailed markings and color along the body. Now erase the outline and replace the detailed color and markings with watercolors of light blue or green. This is the subtle visual you want to keep in mind when looking for the silhouette of the trout below the surface. A silhouette is a rough, distorted, ghostly image that typically displays a light pastel shade of the trout’s body color. I think of the term “ghostly image” because every time I see a picture or video of a ghost, it has similar features: a light white color and a hazy image without an outline. These shaded objects are great for anglers that are color blind. Instead of seeing the color you are seeing the shade of the color whether it is bold, or soft.

Oranges or Apples One of my favorite ways to locate color is looking for random parts of the trout not the whole fish. It is common for these objects to mimic objects you may see in everyday

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life, a good example of this is the gill plate of rainbow, or cutthroat trout, appearing like an apple or orange in the water. Using this reference will also help you build confidence because you are not guessing on what the object looks like, you already know. The next best object is the trout’s tail and fins. I find fins to be either be dark or bright depending on how much exposure to light the fish has. Resident river trout usually possess more color because they need to blend in with their surroundings. Fish lying in deep waters do not need to possess color and it is common

for the tail to be dark or transparent. Unless you are brook trout who poses the most breathtaking markings of all, and matched with white stripes on the front side of the pectoral, pelvic, and anal fins, anglers have a good chance of locating the white stripes that stand out in a dark environment. With so many colors to choose from you can’t go wrong relying on tips like these for your next trout hunting adventure. As they say, seeing is believing, and you will become a believer the moment you spot the markers that can change the HC way you view fly fishing.


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 and follow him on Instagram @landonmayerflyfishing.

Spring 2018 • High Country Angler



High Country Angler • Spring 2018





Spring 2018 • High Country Angler


Wild, Remote — Maybe a Float On CO’s by Brian La Rue


lowing from North Park to Wyoming, the North Platte gathers energy as it flows north. From North Park to Routt National Forest, anglers enjoy a meandering river with a lot of opportunities, but as it enters Northgate Canyon, flowing about 4.5 miles from national forest boundary to the Wyoming border, the river enjoys gold medal status with excellent wild trout fishing and is worth every rock hop or mile hiked as you escape civilization. With the majority of winter behind us, I reached out to Scott Graham at North Park Anglers ( (970) 723-4215). We talked about what anglers can expect if headed his way for an adventure on the North Platte and on into Northgate Canyon anytime soon. As with any freestone river, a lot depends on flow and flows are dependent on snow--- so a pre-runoff run outing is looking pretty good about now! “This year should provide a nice window for pre-runoff fishing,” said Graham. “The best months will be April-mid May. Fishing will be best when flows are below 500 cfs. We should see Midges, BWO’s, and Black Stoneflies. It is always a good idea to fish streamers, worms, and eggs, as they might fool a few fish as well.” Don’t be scared off by runoff on the North Platte either! Graham adds that runoff is actually the best time to float the river. “The upper valley in North Park where the North Platte River is born, is flood irrigated meaning the irrigation filters and warms the water before sending it down the canyon towards Saratoga,”


High Country Angler • Spring 2018

North Platte is in Order! Photos by Scott Graham/North Park Anglers

Spring 2018 • High Country Angler



adds Graham. “While all the drainages in North Park will be high and swollen, the North Platte will be high and clear. Not only will the river be high and clear, but it will be full of food. Leaches, worms, craneflies and stoneflies will be available to the trout in huge numbers. The fish push to the banks for cover and feed like crazy during this window. The best floating is when the river is between 700-3000 cfs and when the flows are steady. Any drastic bump in flows will shut the fishing down for a few days—say like a major rain event.” As a general rule, Graham suggests early and late season outings on the river if you can only fish it once or twice a year. Choose a window like May 1-July 15 or then again Sept. 1- Oct. 15. Summer can be the challenging season as low and warm flows can be tough on the fish. “After runoff floating can still be a good option if the flows allow it,” said Graham. “If flows are in the 500 to 700 cfs range… you can either float or walk and wade. I use the flow report as a starting point. Usually, the bug activity really comes alive after runoff. We start to see Green Drakes, PMD’s, Caddis, Golden Stoneflies and some terrestrial activity including hoppers and ants. “There are some large trout in the North Platte,” continued Graham. “I’ve seen a brown over 30 inches in the canyon, however that is not common. A big fish 14

High Country Angler • Spring 2018

in the canyon is 20 inches and the average fish is between 12-15 inches. They are wild fish that have not been stocked since the ‘70s and they live in a freestone environment where they have to battle tough winter conditions. The big fish in this neck of the woods live in the upper valley in the different meadow streams and valley section of the North



Platte.” One aspect of the North Platte that appeals to me, is the idea of shuttling with some buddies from the south entrance of the canyon to the first Wyoming take out… you know exchange keys and swap cars, meeting in the middle maybe over two days? Maybe an easier approach would be to take a hike in from



(970) 723-4215



a trailhead like Graham suggests. “The Upper North Platte is a great destination because it is always changing,” said Graham. “Every year is different forcing anglers to keep learning and figuring out what the fish are up to. This section of the river is located in a wilderness area so hiking in and camping can be fun, but not necessary. There are multiple trailheads into the wilderness that aren’t that tough of hikes. To me it would make more sense to hike in at different locations each day and have one main camping spot either at 6-mile gap, Douglas Creek, Pelton Creek or Camp Creek.” For those who still want to take the trail into the canyon, the west side of the river offers a foot trail, allowing anglers to explore miles and miles. If you’re not going to float, the trail is best from June to mid-July with flows still a bit up from the tougher, warm flows of late July to early September. Again, from late September on until the freeze, wade anglers will enjoy some epic fishing as well. Here is a simply fly list depending on your chosen season. For the

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Spring 2018 • High Country Angler


Pueblo’s Premier Fly Tying and Fly Fishing Store!

Angler’s Addiction Fly Shop is a small store packed with a huge amount of fly fishing accessories and products. Ron Van Valkenburg, owner of Angler’s Addiction, likes nothing better then to share his vast knowledge of the sport with others to create more interest in the sport and create a better experience for his fly fishing friends. Angler’s Addiction Fly Shop also has a store on Shopify, which has recently been updated and looks great. Ron says come on in the coffee pot is always on.

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float window/early wading May/ June, Graham suggests Salmon Flies, PMD’s, Golden Stones, PMD’s, Yellow Sallies, Dragon Flies and Caddis. Some proven patterns include Pats Rubber Leg (Black, Olive) #8-10, Black Bugger #8-10, Vanilla Bugger #4-6, Thin Mint #6-8, Hares Ears #1216, Pheasant tails #12-16, Barr Emerger PMD #16, Chartreuse Copper John #14-16, Salmon Fly Dry #6, Chubby Chernobyl (Salmon, Tan, Royal) #2-6, Stimulators (Orange, Yellow, Royal) #10-16. If you prefer the later Summer/Fall window, wade action is best with Trico’s, BWO, Caddis, PMD, and Midges, according to Graham. Ants, Beetles, hoppers. Try Tricos Dry #18-22, Black RS2 #18-20, Barr Emerger BWO #18-

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High Country Angler • Spring 2018

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20, Pheasant tail #18-20, Red Copper John #18-20, Hares Ear #16-20, Caddis nymph patterns #16-18. Ants Dry and sunken (red and black) #16-20, Rosenbauer Beetle #16, Foam PMX (Tan, Olive, Gray) #8-12 Best Bet in my book for a couple day’s trip in the canyon! Travel north from Walden, on 125 to the junction with the 127. From this junction, it is about 4 miles to a designated parking area which is near the entrance to the canyon. Here you can launch your raft… or walk the trail along the west side of the river and of course, no trail along a river would be complete without it slowly disappearing as you travel deeper into the canyon. There is also the same kind of parking area/take out area in

Wyoming about 9.8 to 10 miles downriver. An ideal trip would be to pitch a tent and make it a two-day trip with a buddy leaving a car for you at Six Mile Gap. Sounds like an adventure to me? This kind of trip has worked well for walk and wading on a few Utah Rivers where 11 miles or so is just too much in one day (waders…wading and fishing— straight hiking not so bad), but I find 5 miles a day is simple and a ride on the other end makes it easy. The further you go into the canyon the less fellow anglers you’ll see. This is still an uncrowded option in Colorado, given the extra effort involved, remoteness of the location, short window of prime opportunities and rattlesnakes! Oh yes…watch your step--- a bite or slip and

fall could mean an extraction— heck, I’ve been known to break a foot in a nerf war on a HC hardwood floor—Good luck!


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 if you want your lodge or guide service featured in an upcoming promotional marketing plan.

Spring 2018 • High Country Angler




Revenge of the Neon Brown


he hook of a size six stonefly dry was With each turn of line and fish, I marveled buried to the bend in the index finger at its beauty - yellow belly almost burnished of my left hand. That of the dropper, a gold, red spots bordering on pink and crimsize ten pheasant tail, also to the bend, in the son, deep olive top sides, the whole appearpinky of my right. I turned to toss my rod ing as if, just beneath the outer layer of its onto the grass along the river bank, forget- skin, it simmered with a soft neon glow. ting my hand were tethered. The tightening The dropper untangled, I reached my of the tippet connecting the flies buried the hand to its jaws to work the dry fly loose. The dry fly a little deeper into my flesh. I didn’t fish, deciding enough was enough, flicked its know whether to curse, laugh, or cry. muscular body from my grasp, fell through Despite the discomfort, I had to admit the recently untangled tippet into the river, there was a certain symmetry to my predica- burying the hooks into my fingers in the ment. The brown trout immediately respon- process. Touche. sible is still, to this day, the most beautiful In twenty years of guiding anglers, I have fish I have seen. It had risen to the dry fly, largely avoided becoming the unwitting drifted on a languid bubble line that curled flesh into which hooks are set. I have exoff the point of a large boulder jutting out tracted my share out of others’, but empathy from the bank into the current. It made only goes so far. straight for the deep water, pulling line from “I’m pleased to see you crimp the barbs,” the reel, and I worked it to the shallows an angler will often remark as we set out on where I stood. Even while still below the sur- the day. “It’s better for the fish.” face it seemed to glow with a radiance I had “It’s better for me,” I say, “then the fish, not before seen, especially in a brown trout then for you.” which, although beautiful, seldom match the I made my way to the bank and sat, revibrancy of a rainbow, cutthroat or brookie. membering not to use my hands to help lowDrawing it to me, I saw the tippet con- er myself to the ground. There was no one necting the dry fly in its mouth to the drop- else around. I had an hour hike back to my per had wrapped around the fish multiple truck, including a goat-like scramble over a times, creating a cat’s cradle around its bout The Author. head and gill plates. Hayden Mellsop is an expat New Zealander Gently I scooped a living in the mountain town of Salida, Colorado, hand under the fish, on the banks of the Arkansas River. As well as being a and turning it upsemi-retired fly fishing guide, he juggles helping his wife side down to lessen raise two teenage daughters, along with a career in real its struggle, began to estate. unwrap the tangle.



High Country Angler • Spring 2018

two hundred foot high bluff, and a nipple-deep river crossing. I didn’t fancy that with a fly dangling from each paw. Gingerly, I fumbled for my nippers and cut the line joining the flies, freeing my hands for independent movement. I hoped I’d remembered to crimp the barbs. The nymph slid out smoothly. Now for the big one. Even if crimped, the barb seldom breaks cleanly off a larger hook, rather bending back down to the shank, but remaining in place. I gave it a good tug. No more flesh came out with the hook than, on reflection, I probably deserved. If an angler swears out loud on a river bank, and there is no one there to hear, does it count against him? I broke down my rod for the hike out and looked around. The canyon walls glowed pink and orange in the late afternoon light. Towering ponderosas, their trunks mottled smoke and apricot, cast shadows across the deep green water. Fish, river, and the landscape through which it flowed, seemed one, made of each other, multiple reflections of a greater whole. I sat a few minutes longer, index finger smoldering, then stood and began to HC hike upstream.

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Spring 2018 • High Country Angler



High Country Angler • Spring 2018

How to Photograph Your Catch Without Harming the Fish


e take pictures of the fish we catch because we want to share the moment with our family and brag to our fishing buddies. Instagram and Facebook, however, are regrettably full of photos of exhausted fish hauled limply onto the shore or held in the vise-like grip of grinning, oblivious anglers. The tragedy of these photos is that the fish we are trying to capture in these photos will more often than not die due to their rough handling.  I’m not suggesting that we stop taking pictures of the fish we catch, only that we do so in a way that keep the trout wet, healthy, and give us the chance to catch these fish again after they’ve grown a couple more inches!       

Spring 2018 • High Country Angler


Keep em’ Wet Until Showtime As soon as you set the hook in a fish, they crank the energy dial from 0 to 100 and their fight or flight instinct kicks into overdrive. When you finally lead the conquered fish into your net, it is exhausted and in a vulnerable place.  Our first priority before reaching for the camera needs to be to unhook the fish and help it to recover.  Always wet your hands before handling the fish so as not to scrape away their protective slime coat.  While the fish is still submerged in your net, cradle it with one hand around its midsection and side, and slowly rotating it so that its belly is facing the air.  This position will often temporarily “calm” the fish so that the hook can be removed without unnecessary struggle.  Once the hook has been removed and the trout returned to the water within the basket of your net, it is time to get your smartphone ready to snap your picture.  

Time to Get it Right with the Camera Timer


rout aren’t always willing participants in our fishy photoshoots, and oftentimes we’re going to need a little time to line up our photo. For a hands-free option that will allow you to get that perfectly framed shot without unduly stressing the fish, I recommend using the Camera Timer function on your smartphone’s camera app.


High Country Angler • Spring 2018

Here is how you get your perfect picture without harming the fish:

1. 2. 3.

Open the camera app on your smartphone. Select Photo on your camera app.


Cradle the fish with your hands while it is still in the net and in the water between you and the phone. a. One hand should wrap under the belly of the trout and below the pectoral fins or “Flippers”, while the other hand should cradle the tail between the anal and caudal (tail) fins.

Select the Timer Icon (highlighted in yellow on the left side of the image above).

4. 5.

Choose the 10 Second Countdown.

Select the Reverse Camera Icon (highlighted in yellow on the right side of the image above) so that you can line yourself up in the frame and view the countdown.


Prop your phone up next to the river so that the screen is facing you (you should see yourself on the screen if the reverse Camera Icon is indeed activated).


Touch the white Camera Shutter Button to start the 10 second countdown.

b. With just a light resting pressure, the trout will relax into your hands during the ten second count allowing you to easily raise it from the water in time for a quick shot.


Lift the fish into the frame 2-3 seconds before the countdown ends and the photo is taken.


PRO TIP - Holding an 8” trout close to the camera will make it look like a HOG and will help to support your fish stories

Spring 2018 • High Country Angler



High Country Angler • Spring 2018

While you are still bound to capture a few fish-flops, your catch will spend its time between takes recovering in the water instead of flogging itself or choking on the shore. Once you’ve taken your photo, simply lower the fish back into the water until it kicks itself out of your hand and into the depth, where it will HC be waiting to battle you another day!

Photography credit: Tommy Brown Instagram handle:



bout The Author.

Peter Stitcher is an Aquatic Biologist and owner of Ascent Fly Fishing. Originator of the Biologist Crafted Fly Selection, Peter and his team build their clients’ fly selections specific to the bugs in the waters they fish, when they fish them. You can contact Peter or restock your fly box at: www.ascentflyfishing. com.

Spring 2018 • High Country Angler



he Rocky Mountains are the undisputed heart of the fly fishing world. It is from our snow-capped peaks that the rivers of fly fishing lore such as the Green, Colorado, Big Horn, and Snake are born.  Anglers from around the world dream of fishing our waters, and each year make their-wader encased pilgrimage to the source to drift their flies in our trout-rich waters. The wooded banks and cool waters of the Rockies are home to many of the most innovative fly fishing companies and best respected authors, guides, and fly tyers.  In light of this, we started the Fly Fishing Rendezvous to celebrate our rich local culture of fly fishing and to equip the region’s anglers for success on our waters.

2 Days 50 Rocky Mountain Fly Fishing Companies 35 Hours of Classes & Clinics


High Country Angler • Spring 2018

This April 28th - 29th, the best of the Rocky Mountain’s fly fishing companies, authors, guides, and fly tyers will be gathering for the 2018 Fly Fishing Rendezvous at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds in Golden, Colorado. Featuring only the best of what our region has to offer, local anglers can purchase gear and book trips from 50 different fly fishing companies and pick from 35 hours of classes and demonstrations  presented by some of the best-known names in the sport.  Committed to being more than just another consumer show, the Rendezvous has partnered with and actively supports the work of Colorado Trout Unlimited and Project Healing Waters.   If you are you tired of getting skunked at Deckers and the Dream Stream, this is your chance to ask your questions to Landon Mayer, Pat Dorsey, Robert Younghanz, and Duane Redford as they sit together on our South Platte panel!  Is it time for a new fishing pack or fly reel, or do you need to top off your fly box?   Fishpond, Lamson-Waterworks, and the biologists from Ascent Fly Fishing have you covered!  Mark your calendars and save the date for the 2018 Fly Fishing Rendezvous.

Spring 2018 • High Country Angler



High Country Angler • Spring 2018

Defending Our Public Lands by Dan Omasta

Spring 2018 • High Country Angler



couple of weeks ago, I had a chance to take a day off work and go fishing. Planning for a long day on the river, my brother and I made a big lunch, threw some cold beers in the cooler, packed the rods in the truck, and headed out to one of our favorite rivers in central Colorado. Like so many other anglers, we were taught to fish at an early age. As kids, we spent our summers crammed in the back of the old family station wagon, traveling throughout the West and stopping to fish the rivers and creeks along the way. My brother and I – like so many Americans – were raised on public lands. We eventually parked the truck and began rigging our rods at a small pullout marked only by a faded sign reading “State Wildlife Area”. As kids, the idea of “public water” really made no sense to us – the river was there and the fish were in it. As adults, we better understand the complicated web of land management plans, government agencies, leasing policies, and property rights that piece together the great American landscape. Public lands are an essential part of that puzzle. Comprising over 640-million acres, these areas al-


High Country Angler • Spring 2018

low for unparalleled hunting, fishing, and recreational opportunities; they provide the timber, grazing, and mineral resources that drive our economy; they protect our national heritage and artifacts of the past; they deliver critical water and ecosystem services; and they belong to all of us. Recreation on public lands is also a major economic driver. In Colorado alone, outdoor recreation generates over $34.5 billion dollars towards the state economy and 71 percent of residents report that they recreate on public lands annually. Fishing in Colorado engages more than 760,000 anglers and supports more than 14,000 jobs statewide – primarily in rural communities. As we stepped into the river just below Browns Canyon National Monument, I couldn’t help but consider the current threats facing such important places like that one. Just this past summer, sportsmen and women across the country were galvanized against the threat of dismantling protections for national monuments and public lands. In 2017, the Trump administration considered reducing the size of over 20 monuments, alongside other proposals to weaken water quality protection and reduce public

opportunity to review and comment on proposed federal leases to extractive industries. One bill in Congress even contemplated the disposal of “excess” public lands, though its sponsor (Rep. Chaffetz, UT) pulled back the proposal in the face of a huge backlash from sportsmen and women. In a speech before the Colorado Livestock Association in 1910, President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired in value. Conservation means development as much as it does protection.” Those words should carry the same weight today as they did over one-hundred years ago.

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Spring 2018 • High Country Angler


Public lands are the birthright of every American, and it is the responsibility of current and future administrations to ensure that those resources are not imperiled. This responsibility also falls on our shoulders – as anglers and Americans. As land users, we must stand together in defense of commonsense policies that protect and restore our public lands – while also ensuring continued access and beneficial use. When the fishing on the Arkansas had finally slowed, we hiked back up to the truck - through the gate that marked the boundary between the public fishing easement and the county right-of-way. In Colorado, we have been fortunate to strike a cautious balance between recreation, private interests, and ecological stewardship. We realize the important role that agriculture, tourism, and industry all play in our lives – but we also recognize that imbalance or permanent destruction of resources will impact our future, and the livelihood of future generations. In February 2018, the State of Utah filed a lawsuit 32

High Country Angler • Spring 2018

that challenges the authority of the federal government to hold and maintain public lands in perpetuity. Sportsmen and women and the American public should take notice: this idea of transferring public lands to the states is a dangerous one. Not only do states lack the large budgets required to maintain these vast open spaces (wildland fire alone would cost local agencies hundreds of millions of dollars a year), this obvious land grab by a few bureaucrats and their private donors is intended to strip away the land we have all owned and benefitted from for over a hundred years. Additionally, most state constitutions - like the one here in Colorado - require that government generate the most money possible from state-owned property. This mandate would open the door to sell-offs, expanded mineral extraction, and result in an overall reduction of public access. As hunters and anglers, we cannot stand by idly and allow our heritage to be sold off to privateers disguised as advocates of “states’ rights”. We must stand together and defend our public lands.

Spring 2018 • High Country Angler



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High Country Angler • Spring 2018

Fortunately, conservation organizations like Trout Unlimited are helping to lead that charge. “Sportsmen and women are fundamentally opposed to schemes that would sell or transfer ownership or management of our public lands. We have banded together en masse to make our position known,” says Corey Fisher, senior policy director for Trout Unlimited’s Sportsmen’s Conservation Project. “We are ready and willing to roll up our sleeves and work with all stakeholders to solve public land management challenges, but we will continue to vigorously defend our public land heritage.” It was getting dark as we were driving back home, but we could still see the faint outline of Browns Canyon. As kids, my brother and I both learned to fish and raft on that river. My hope is to one day do the same with my kids. Our public lands afford that opportunity – a chance for future generations to hunt and fish and experience the majesty of this great county. Now is the time to stand together and protect that legacy. Now is the time to defend HC our public lands.


bout The Author.

Dan Omasta is the Grassroots Coordinator for Colorado Trout Unlimited, working with 24 chapters across the state.

Spring 2018 • High Country Angler


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2 0 1 7

Trout Unlimited in Colorado Y e a r

Conserving, protecting and restoring Colorado’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds

i n

R e v i e w

A Letter From the President

Our Mission To Conserve, Protect, and Restore Colorado’s Coldwater Fisheries and their Watersheds. We Get Things Done:

We conserve Colorado’s fisheries using four key tactics:

Collaboration. TU brings stakeholders together in partnership to achieve common goals. We develop projects with landowners and irrigators, often resolving diverse and opposing interests. Focus and Persistence.

TU has the staying power to deliver results through multi-year efforts. Longterm campaigns helped secure protections for the Roan Plateau and launch the Learning by Doing partnership for the Colorado headwaters.

Leverage. TU multiplies

donor funds and our 12,000 members’ sweat equity through grants from federal, state and foundation sources. Every dollar goes further for conservation.

Reliance on Science.

TU builds programs on a foundation of solid science and data monitoring. Good research guides restoration designs and river advocacy.


Thoreau is quoted as saying “Many go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” In my experience, there is much truth in this statement, but I believe most of the members, volunteers, staff and partners that make up the Trout Unlimited (TU) family understand that conserving, protecting and restoring our coldwater fisheries is vitally important for reasons that go far beyond catching fish. I am extremely proud of the accomplishments of TU in Colorado in 2017. Take for example our work on the Fraser River in Grand County. The Fraser is imperiled due to significant diversion of its volume for municipal use. TU is in the midst of a long-term, collaborative effort to protect and restore this crucial tributary to the Upper Colorado River. In 2017, TU and other stakeholders completed an initial habitat enhancement project that, in just a few months, already has resulted in dramatic improvement to the aquatic health of the river. The fight to “Save the Fraser” will continue, and TU will be there to lead the charge! Last year TU placed increased emphasis on restoring native trout populations in a number of parts of Colorado. The stories of TU’s native trout restoration and reintroduction efforts spotlighted in the following pages are truly remarkable. Native trout are beautiful and rare. They live in picturesque and sensitive places. For these reasons and many others, native trout deserve our attention and support. I like to refer to TU’s native trout recovery efforts as “practicing resurrection” (to borrow a phrase from Wendell Berry), and I am honored to be associated with an organization doing this important work. In 2017 we faced new efforts from the Trump Administration to rescind or reduce protections associated with various national monuments, including Browns Canyon National Monument. TU, working with its partners and other stakeholders, quickly and successfully mobilized against this shortsighted proposal. This experience illustrates that we must continue to be vigilant when it comes to preserving public lands. In Colorado, we are fortunate to have millions of acres of public land available for hunters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy. Every single acre of public land in Colorado matters. TU and its roughly 12,000 Colorado members are committed to vigorously opposing threats to our public lands.

Trout Unlimited in Colorado 2017 Year In Review

To all of the TU members who faithfully renew your memberships each year, thank you! Please know that your dues and contributions are being put to good use. A particular “shout out” and thank you to our expanding group of River Stewardship Council members in Colorado! Your contributions and donations are significant and greatly appreciated. A growing number of corporate partners also deserve a big thank you. For example, TU in Colorado could not sustain its planned youth education programs and initiatives without the financial commitment of Suncor Energy. Conserving and protecting the places we love to fish in Colorado would be much more challenging without the generous support of Colorado businesses such as Upslope Brewing Company, Trout’s Fly Fishing, Anglers All and RepYourWater. TU’s mission is to conserve, protect and restore Colorado’s coldwater fisheries and watersheds. In simple terms, however, TU’s mission is to make Colorado a better place to live. Like many of you, I love to catch trout and I love the places in Colorado where trout are found. For me though, it may be enough just to know that trout are out there, swimming in our waters—due in no small part to the ongoing efforts of Trout Unlimited. Tight lines and wet feet, Cam Chandler Colorado TU President


24 6

H 10


1 2 23 11




19 22 8



Defending Our Public Lands


Pages 4 – 5

Protecting & Restoring Rivers



4 17


Pages 6 – 7


Restoring Native Trout








Pages 8 – 9

Building Partnerships on Water Pages 10 – 11


Reclaiming Mine-Impaired Streams

Colorado TU Chapters 1 Alpine Anglers

9 Dolores River Anglers

17 Gunnison Gorge Anglers

2 Boulder Flycasters

10 Eagle Valley – Eagle

18 Purgatoire River Anglers

– Estes Park – Boulder

3 Cherry Creek Anglers

– Aurora

4 Cheyenne Mountain

– Colorado Springs

5 Collegiate Peaks

– Salida/Buena Vista

6 Colorado River


– Grand County

7 Cutthroat – Littleton

– Cortez

11 Evergreen 12 Ferdinand Hayden

– Aspen/Glenwood Springs

13 Five Rivers

– Durango

– Delta/Montrose – Trinidad

19 Rocky Mountain Flycasters

– Fort Collins/Greeley

20 San Luis Valley – Alamosa 21 Southern Colorado


14 Gore Range

– Summit County

15 Grand Valley Anglers

– Grand Junction

16 Gunnison Angling Society

– Gunnison

8 Denver

– Pueblo

22 St. Vrain Anglers

– Longmont

23 West Denver

– Lakewood

Page 12

Educating Colorado Youth Page 13

Investing in Colorado Page 14

Donor Support Page 15

Colorado TU Staff Page 16

24 Yampa Valley Flyfishers

– Steamboat Springs

TU Around the State


Cutthroats Returning to Hermosa Creek Restoring the Denver South Platte Keeping South Park Special


A Travel Plan for the Dolores Perseverance, Collaboration Produce Colorado’s Largest-Ever Native Trout Recovery Project


The Fish Are Returning to Fraser Flats Restoring Native Trout Habitat on Jim Creek Abrams Creek: Keeping Natives Alive


Defending Colorado’s National Monuments

Defending Our Public Lands

In late April, President Trump issued an Executive Order calling for a review of twenty-seven national monuments and ordering the Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to provide recommendations that could include rescinding monument protections, reducing the size of monuments, or changes to how monuments are managed. In Colorado, the order specifically called out one monument, Canyons of the Ancients, but left the door for Browns Canyon to also be included in the review.

Introducing Colorado Public Lands Day

TU and our partners launched an all-hands-on-deck effort during the 60-day comment period to make

sure that the Administration heard loud and clear that Colorado sportsmen and women support national monuments and want to see them protected. These efforts resulted in nearly 300 high-value comments in support of Browns Canyon National Monument and the irreplaceable fishery in the upper Arkansas River. Colorado’s legislators also stepped up—Sen. Bennet, Sen. Gardner, and Rep. Tipton all weighed in with support for Colorado’s monuments. The team effort was successful and the final report issued by Secretary Zinke did not recommend changes to any national monuments in Colorado.

What makes Colorado special? In part, it’s our millions of acres of public lands, which give Colorado anglers and sportsmen access to a vast world of outdoor experiences. In 2016, TU and other public land supporters helped Colorado become the first state in the nation to create a Public Lands Day, recognizing the importance of some 24 million acres managed by the federal government land management agencies.

Photo courtesy National Park Service

On May 20, 2017, Colorado celebrated its first ever Public Lands Day. Trout Unlimited staff, members and supporters, anglers and sportsmen, and other supporters of our public lands celebrated Colorado’s magnificent public lands, with over 450 Instagram posts, 265 tweets and numerous emails demonstrating strong support and love for public lands. Many pictures of trout caught on public lands were sent in and shared with Senators Gardner and Bennet.

Oil, Colorado River Headwaters Don’t Mix After BLM announced plans to lease oil and gas in Grand County near the headwaters of the Colorado River, alarm bells went off at TU. The proposed lease site was located within several miles of Rocky Mountain National Park near the headwaters of the Colorado River, in a county that has no active oil and gas wells but is dependent on tourism, agriculture and healthy waters and habitat. Make sense? TU didn’t think so either. Tyler Baskfield, TU’s northern Colorado field coordinator, went to work mobilizing community leaders, sportsmen and other conservation groups to oppose the proposed lease sale. After hearing the strong concerns from local governments, guest ranches, sportsmen and other community members, BLM backed off, removing 20 parcels covering some 27,529 acres in the county from consideration for leasing.


Trout Unlimited in Colorado 2017 Year In Review

A Travel Plan for the Dolores While the work isn’t glamorous, there’s good reason TU staff have invested countless hours in shaping travel management plans for our national forest roads and trails. These plans identify sensitive backcountry watersheds and fisheries that need to be protected. The Rico West Dolores Travel management plan was released in late 2017 as a draft record of decision. This travel plan is the result of years of environmental study, public comment and lawsuit-driven delays. But the hard work has paid off—the preliminary plan imposes significant new restrictions on motorized travel in the national forest and protects key fish and wildlife habitats

in the area north of Dolores, including Bear Creek, Taylor Mesa, Calico National Recreation Trail, Bolam Pass, Divide Road and Groundhog Point. Notably, the preferred alternative restricts motorized use on the Little Bear trail and most of the main Bear Creek trail, including the lower portion. Closing Bear Creek to motorized use will help avoid potential conflicts with outdoor users including hikers, cyclists, anglers, hunters, equestrians and outfitters. By managing travel, TU is advancing conservation in our national forests.

Keeping South Park Special

“Access to and conservation of our public lands and water resources are critical to healthy and sustainable fisheries in the Rocky Mountain region. When we have such a short time frame to develop our youth–access to a healthy fishery is what will set the hook in the next generation as they enjoy catching fish and ultimately become the stewards of the resource.”

South Park is a special place, with world-class trout streams, wildlife and abundant natural resources deserving vigilant protection. That’s why TU is working to ensure that any proposed energy development in the area is done in a balanced, careful way. In 2017, TU staff, with our partners at the Colorado Wildlife Federation, continued to lead sportsmen engagement in the Royal Gorge Resource Management Plan (RMP). Sportsmen are working closely with the BLM and other local stakeholders to craft a responsible leasing plan for the South Park area that identifies highvalue natural areas unsuitable for development and ensures early, meaningful public input in any oil and gas leasing decisions.

A Community Vision for Gunnison Public Lands Garrett Hanks, TU’s Southwest Colorado field coordinator, took part in a unique community collaboration in the Gunnison area, led by Sen. Michael Bennet, that asked local citizens and business leaders, sportsmen groups and others to work together on a vision for how to make the best use of their area’s national public lands and resources. As part of the process, TU developed an ambitious conservation proposal, including significant wilderness additions and protections for high-quality fish and wildlife habitat, that was adopted by the working group. In the coming year, TU will continue to push for this strong conservation vision through both the community collaborative and the upcoming forest planning process for the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison national forests.

TU developed a strong set of recommendations to protect key fish and wildlife habitats in South Park—and the Draft RMP and Environmental Impact Statement issued in April 2017 reflected most of those recommendations.

Alex Woodruff, RSC donor


Colorado Water Plan – Bringing Everyone to the Table

Protecting & Restoring Rivers

What level of minimal flows does a stretch of river or stream need to remain healthy and fish-friendly? How can all the diverse users of a watershed—from ranchers and farmers to anglers and municipal users—collaborate to ensure the best management of those finite water resources? Those are the kind of essential questions that a new state tool—Stream Management Plans (SMPs)— are designed to answer. And everyone benefits from having those answers, including anglers. In 2017, TU played a critical role in organizing SMPs for various watersheds across the state. As first conceived by the Colorado

Water Conservation Board, Stream Management Plans aim to identify essential environmental and recreational flow needs for “priority” stream reaches, with an eye to improving flows and habitat through collaborative water management with other water users. Trout Unlimited strongly supported the concept of SMPs throughout the evolution of the Colorado Water Plan—recognizing that SMPs are a natural extension of our ongoing partnerships with ranchers and farmers to improve river health and maintain agriculture’s crucial role in our rural communities. “Most of the water in the state is controlled by agriculture,” notes Richard Van Gytenbeek, TU’s Upper Colorado River Basin coordinator. “For stream management plans to be successful, we need to bring agriculture producers and irrigation companies to the table.” TU staff are currently assisting stream management plans in several Colorado subbasins, including the Colorado, Uncompahgre, Gunnison, San Miguel, San Juan and Rio Grande. Each of them are evolving differently and reflect the unique character of their own basin water use priorities. “These collaborative efforts can reveal opportunities that not only benefit our local fisheries but also local agriculture and communities,” says Van Gytenbeek. “We all depend on our home waters.”

TU, State Secure Poudre River Protections Under NISP Working closely with Northern Water and Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), Colorado TU and the Rocky Mountain Flycasters Chapter worked to ensure strong baseline protections for fisheries in the Cache la Poudre under the proposed Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP). The state adopted Fish and Wildlife Mitigation and Enhancement Plans for the project that reflected several TU recommendations. The plans do not represent endorsement of the NISP project itself, but rather define state recommendations for reasonable mitigation measures and possible enhancements to protect fish and wildlife should the project be constructed. The NISP project, proposed by Northern Water, consists of two off-channel reservoirs: Glade Reservoir, northwest of Fort Collins, and Galeton Reservoir northeast of Greeley. It uses inbasin water, including the Grey Mountain project water rights that were once proposed for a mainstem reservoir in the Poudre Canyon. The Mitigation & Enhancement Plans include measures to improve river habitat, restore fish passage, and provide streamflows—both minimum and higher flushing flows. “This is only the first step of several reviews that NISP must address and there are too many unanswered questions for us to yet support or oppose the project itself,” said CTU Executive Director David Nickum, “But we are pleased that these plans will assure a minimum base of protection for the Poudre’s fisheries should


Trout Unlimited in Colorado 2017 Year In Review

the project be constructed. We thank Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff for their diligence and Northern Water for their responsiveness to our and CPW’s recommendations.” Low-flow protections are of particular importance for the Poudre’s trout fisheries from the canyon mouth through Fort Collins. “The program is significant to the fishery and aquatic life because it keeps water in the river on a year-round basis,” said CPW biologist Ken Kehmeier.

River Benefits of the NISP Mitigation & Enhancement Plan • Improve minimum stream flows for 12-mile reach of the Poudre through Ft. Collins • Restore fish passage and natural sediment transport at 4 diversion structures along Poudre •Improve 2.4 miles of river habitat • Invest $5 million in other cooperative habitat projects • Provide flushing flows, ranging across wet/dry periods • Keep flow changes gradual with ramping rates to protect fish from rapid flow changes • Monitor river habitats and adjust mitigation and enhancement measures as needed.

Chapter Spotlight: Colorado River Headwaters TU (Grand County)

Fish Are Returning to Fraser Flats For years, the Fraser River, a key tributary of the Upper Colorado, had been degraded by municipal water diversions and other pressures.

this section had become too wide and shallow, resulting in sedimentation and high temperatures that smothered bug life and pressured coldwater-loving trout.

TU and a host of water stakeholders joined forces to reverse that decline. The effort, called Learning by Doing, brought together a variety of partners including Denver Water, Northern Water, Grand County, Trout Unlimited, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife to help restore the Upper Colorado watershed.

Design work began in fall 2016. In late spring, more than 150 volunteers turned out to plant willows and cottonwoods along the streambank for shade and bank stability. Then in summer and fall, the group brought in Freestone Aquatics to narrow the river with point bars

In 2017, the group broke ground on an inaugural project at Fraser Flats, a stretch of the Fraser between the towns of Tabernash and Fraser, with the goal of restoring healthy habitat for trout even during periods of reduced flows. The Fraser in

“This section of the Fraser River is the healthiest I’ve seen this river in the 47 years I’ve lived here.” Kirk Klancke, President of TU’s Colorado River Headwaters Chapter. and other structures to increase velocity and depth of the river. Freestone also created a series of riffles and deep pools to provide better holding water for trout. The results already have been nothing short of spectacular.

Harvested willows were bundled in groups of 25 with four bundles per bucket. Each planted bundle will create a new willow tree overtime.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife conducted a fish survey on Oct. 5, shortly after completion of the project, and found a dramatic and almost immediate increase in the number and size of brown and rainbow trout in the stretch compared to previous surveys. Biologists also reported seeing large brown trout actively spawning in many areas of the stretch. In short, Fraser River trout have wasted no time moving into the improved habitat.

Gunnison River Restoration Project In November 2017, the City of Gunnison and Colorado Parks and Wildlife began construction on the Gunnison River Restoration Project.

What’s more, starting in spring 2018, the project will also provide public fishing access along a half-mile of the Fraser Flats section.

This project will improve channel

“The best part is we’re hoping to do more river improvements like this in the future with our Learning By Doing partners,” said Kirk Klancke, President of TU’s Colorado River Headwaters Chapter.

habitat on a very popular 3-mile

stability, boater safety, and trout segment of the Gunnison River, near the town of Gunnison. Gunnison Angling Society (GAS), Trout Unlimited’s Gunnison Chapter, has helped develop this project during the last three years. GAS has directed over $50,000 for construction of

The Fraser Flats project is the start of a long lasting collaborative agreement with river stakeholders that will ensure that the health of the Upper Colorado watershed remains at the forefront.

in-channel improvements and committed over 100 hours of volunteer labor toward the project. The project is expected to be completed in 2018.


Chapter Spotlight: San Luis Valley TU (Alamosa)

Restoring Native Trout Habitat on Jim Creek

Restoring Native Trout

In 2014, Trout Unlimited and Conejos County, with funding from Great Outdoors Colorado, embarked on an ambitious project to protect 3.5 miles of Jim Creek, which is home to a conservation population of native Rio Grande cutthroat trout. This first phase of the project involved This fence line photo clearly shows the effect of the riparian fence from only one growing season.

quality fish habitat. Historic overgrazing had created an over-wide channel with denuded banks susceptible to erosion and braiding caused by cattle trailing and bank trampling. As the stream widened, it lost the energy required to build and maintain pools, resulting in long sections of very shallow water essentially devoid of pool habitat. In addition, there were sections with cut bank erosion

After restoration: Stabilized bank with new floodplain bench and transplanted sedges to stabilize the bank and maintain pools. installing and repairing fencing to keep cattle out of the stream and rest a long-overgrazed section of state land. It also catapulted a long-term stewardship program undertaken by TU’s San Luis Valley Chapter to help the State Land Board and grazing lessees maintain fences in a very remote watershed. In 2017, Trout Unlimited received grant funding for stream restoration on the protected parcel from the San Luis Valley Conservation and Connection Initiative (LOR Foundation), with help from a $7,500 in-cash match put forth by Colorado Trout Unlimited with funds raised by the Rocky Mountain Flyathlon. The project, completed in October 2017, restored fish habitat on a half-mile of Jim Creek using on-site materials and innovative techniques to reestablish a healthy functioning stream channel and

cutting off water supplies for riparian vegetation like sedges that stabilize banks with complex root masses. The project restored proper stream function by repurposing on-site materials to narrow the channel and re-establish a single thread stream with a healthy pool to riffle ratio providing key habitat structures that offer cover and refuge in low flows. The restoration work was completed in October 2017, establishing 45 new pools and adding another 40-plus structures to stabilize banks and narrow the stream channel. The narrower channel will concentrate stream flows, creating the energy required to maintain pool scour and quality riffle habitat.

(Photo Credit Denver Post)

Bringing Back the Greenback In the summer of 2017, over 100 TU volunteers from 12 different chapters came together to support the recovery and reintroduction of the native Greenback Cutthroat Trout in the South Platte Basin. TU members worked alongside Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and US Forest Service (USFS) Staff to reduce erosion from public trails into Bear Creek, spawn fish in Zimmerman Lake, and backpack hundreds of Greenback fingerlings into Herman Gulch. In 2017, CPW stocked more than 12,000 fish into four different sites throughout the South Platte Basin – the bulk of them into Herman Gulch.

In the South Platte headwaters, TU also partnered with landowner (and fish passage engineer) Brent Mefford on design for barriers on Rock Creek and its tributary Black Canyon. Through a partnership with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, CPW, and USFS, this basin is on its way to providing a connected meta-population


Trout Unlimited in Colorado 2017 Year In Review

for greenback recovery. The first of three barriers was constructed on Rock Creek in 2017, with an innovative design that will allow the barrier to be easily removed – and reinstalled if needed—in order to connect habitat in the future, while isolating it when needed to protect against the spread of disease or non-native trout into the recovery area. A key factor in the future success of Greenback recovery will be the ability of the fish to adapt to high-alpine environments and escape the current genetic bottleneck that is significantly affecting their overall survival rates. In the next few years, we will gain a better sense of the trout’s ability to adapt in their new surroundings.

Perseverance, Collaboration Produce Colorado’s Largest-Ever Native Trout Recovery Project Colorado TU, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Water Supply and Storage Company, a northern Colorado ditch company, settled litigation that will allow the company to continue to use Long Draw Reservoir on the ArapahoRoosevelt National Forests while also launching a largescale native trout restoration for the Cache la Poudre river headwaters. The native trout restoration effort will take more than 10 years to complete but will ultimately provide for a connected “metapopulation” of trout spanning the watershed across the headwaters including the Neota and Comanche Peaks Wilderness Areas, as well as in Rocky Mountain National Park. Including more than 40 miles of connected river and multiple lakes, as well as Long Draw Reservoir itself, the project represents Colorado’s largestever native trout restoration effort. Under the settlement, Water Supply and Storage Company has established a $1.25 million trust to fund restoration efforts, with Colorado TU serving as the trustee. The project will include multiple permanent and

temporary barriers to help protect habitats from invasion by non-native trout, removal of current non-native trout populations, and restoration with Greenback cutthroat trout—the only trout native to the South Platte basin and Colorado’s official state fish. Restoration work will be completed through collaboration among the USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain National Park, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and Colorado Trout Unlimited. The agreement comes as the culmination of a more than 20-year effort by Trout Unlimited to ensure adequate mitigation for National Forest resources affected by the reservoir, which seasonally dries up La Poudre Pass Creek downstream. This long-term campaign has now produced an ambitious restoration effort that will provide a true stronghold for Colorado’s native trout in a highly-protected watershed encompassing multiple wilderness areas. It also demonstrates the potential for positive results when diverse parties work cooperatively to seek solutions to challenging issues. “The settlement is a great example of how open dialogue and a spirit of cooperation can yield conservation solutions,” said David Nickum, Colorado TU Executive Director. “We are pleased that settlement efforts enabled all the parties to find a solution for the area’s natural resources that meets federal stewardship responsibilities, respects the operating needs and challenges of longstanding water users, and achieves meaningful benefits for Colorado’s environment and the millions of residents of and visitors to our state who enjoy it.”

Abrams Creek: Keeping Natives Alive Abrams Creek—a tiny stream outside of Gypsum—holds a rare population of native Colorado River cutthroat trout that’s genetically unique and the only aboriginal trout population in the Eagle River watershed. And because Abrams Creek has a lower elevation than many cutthroat streams, biologists say its native trout might be better adapted to warmer temperatures— another reason why this vulnerable fish population is important to preserve. For more than a century, however, Abrams Creek has been dewatered by irrigation diversions that drastically reduce its flows in late summer and fall. The trout have been hanging on, but they’re seriously pressured. Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) has called this population the “highest priority” for cutthroat conservation efforts in Western Colorado.

their irrigation ditch and thereby reduce leakage by 40 percent, with the water savings going back into the creek to keep the fish healthy. The biggest hurdle was money. Piping the irrigation ditch along several miles would cost more than $1 million.

Cutthroats Returning to Hermosa Creek Colorado River cutthroat trout restoration in Hermosa Creek reached an important milestone in November, with the completion of the final downstream barrier that will protect the upper watershed for reintroduction of native trout. Located a short distance below the East Fork’s confluence with the mainstem of Hermosa Creek, the new barrier will allow for restoration within the final reaches of Hermosa Creek and ultimately create a contiguous reach of 23 miles of native trout habitat throughout the federally-designated Watershed Protection Area. The work completed in 2017 builds on more than 25 years of collaborative restoration efforts among Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the San Juan National Forest, and the Five Rivers Chapter of TU in Durango. The new barrier will allow for Colorado River cutthroat to be returned to several additional stream miles downstream of previously installed barriers. Just as importantly, it will join the East Fork and mainstem drainages into one interconnected system supporting native trout—establishing the largest cutthroat trout stronghold in southwest Colorado. Partners in the Hermosa barrier project include Trout Unlimited, the US Forest Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and the Trout and Salmon Foundation.

In 2017, that fundraising goal was achieved, thanks to efforts by TU, the Eagle Valley Chapter, Buckhorn Valley, CPW and the Eagle River Watershed Council, who secured grants from a variety of sources, including the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Colorado River Basin Roundtable, Bureau of Reclamation and the town of Gypsum, as well as donations from BLM, Colorado's Species Conservation Fund and local businesses Fortius Realty, NAI Mountain and Alpine Bank. “Turns out, a lot of people were ready and willing to step up to protect this jewel of a stream,” says Whiting. Because of these collective efforts, she says, the project is officially a go. Construction is expected to start in 2018 on piping the ditch, and the future of Abrams Creek cutthroats looks bright.

In 2016, Trout Unlimited’s Mely Whiting helped negotiate a deal with the local irrigation company, Buckhorn Valley Metro District, which agreed to pipe


Chapter Spotlight: Denver TU

Building Partnerships on Water

Restoring the Denver South Platte For more than a decade, the Denver Trout Unlimited chapter (DTU) has been working to improve the health of the Denver South Platte from Chatfield Reservoir through downtown Denver. Since the chapter’s first “Carp Slam” tournament was held eleven years ago to build awareness of the Denver South Platte and its fishery potential, the restoration effort and partnerships have grown exponentially. DTU has worked with the City and County of Denver and the Greenway Foundation on a South Platte Restoration plan that lays out a multi-million-dollar restoration vision for the river and corridor all along the Denver South Platte.

Denver South Platte: A River Rising 1965 – South Platte flood

members who have personally pledged funds to purchase an acre-foot themselves. Along with contributing to the environmental pool, DTU is also spearheading a “Stream Management Plan” for the Denver South Platte—a science-based, stakeholder-driven process to understand the river’s habitat and how the greatest environmental “bang for buck” can be achieved with the environmental pool releases. Through the study DTU, working closely with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, will help inform future decisions so that the river gets the greatest benefit possible.

1975 – Chatfield Reservoir completed

2007 – First Carp Slam tournament held

2012 – Restoration project

completed by Carson Nature Center

2014 – Army Corps of

Engineers approves Chatfield Reallocation Project including environmental pool

2016 – Restoration projects completed at FloridaOverland, Grant-Frontier, South Suburban Park

2016 – Denver TU

temperature monitoring launched

2017 – Pledges secured to

expand Environmental Pool by 500 acre feet, with match from Denver Water

To expand the environmental pool and its benefits, Denver Water in 2016 announced a challenge: it would provide $2 million—half of the cost—toward acquiring another 500 acre feet of storage to help the river, expanding the environmental pool to 2,100 acre-feet. The Greenway Foundation has coordinated “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, matching gifts to meet being able to buy water storage to help Denver Water’s instream flow through the challenge. Denver metro area. I like the thought Supporters that kids in Denver who might never range from get the chance to go farther away, can private still learn to fish in their home river.” foundations and individuals Fred Miller, Denver TU member & Environmental to local Pool donor. governments— including DTU

Planned Future Efforts 2018 – Denver TU

coordinating Stream Management Plan to inform Environmental Pool management

2018 – Restoration planned for Marcy Gulch, Sheridan River Run, Confluence Park

2019 – Restoration planned for Elitch Gardens-Mile High and National Western

2020 – Chatfield Reallocation Project & Environmental Pool to begin storing water

2021 – Restoration planned for Yale to Mississippi reach


Trout Unlimited in Colorado 2017 Year In Review

Fred Miller, Denver TU

Seasonal low flows are a major challenge for the river, but help is on the way. The State of Colorado has joined with local water users on a reservoir expansion project for Chatfield, which includes a 1,600 acre-foot “environmental pool”—releases from which can benefit the Denver South Platte while also delivering needed water for irrigators along the productive farmland downstream of Denver.

devastates Denver

‘A River’s Reckoning’: Ranchers, TU Working to Restore a Great River In 2017, Trout Unlimited and American Rivers finished production of “A River’s Reckoning,” a new film that tells the story of fifth-generation rancher Paul Bruchez’s awakening to river conservation and his family’s ranch legacy when drought and municipal water diversions deplete the Colorado River and threaten the ranch’s operations. Paul and his family rise to meet these challenges, working with neighbors, conservation groups like Trout Unlimited and other partners to find creative

"It’s an inspiring story of family, grit and stewardship..."

solutions that enhance their irrigation systems while restoring trout habitat in the Colorado River. It’s an inspiring story of family, grit and stewardship—and it was selected to premiere at the prestigious Wild and Scenic Film Festival in January 2018. See the film at http://

Bruchez and his neighbors’ group, ILVK, are working with TU on projects to install several innovative instream structures designed to provide adequate water levels for irrigation while also improving fish habitat. The project is part of a larger Colorado River vision, the Colorado River Headwaters Project, that includes the ILVK work, a new bypass around Windy Gap Reservoir to reconnect the Colorado River, and habitat restoration work below Windy Gap. These projects, when fully implemented, will directly benefit more than 30 miles of the Colorado River and 4,500 acres of irrigated lands. It will also make available up to 11,000 acre-feet of water to improve the river during low-flow conditions. The partners got a major boost in late 2016 when the Department of Agriculture awarded the group a $7.75 million grant for the project. “What’s happening on the upper Colorado shows that water users can work together to ensure river health while meeting diverse uses,” said Drew Peternell, director of TU’s Colorado Water and Habitat Project. “This project is a model of what cooperation and collaboration can achieve in meeting our water challenges in Colorado.”

Tomichi Creek

Chapter Spotlight: Dolores River Anglers (Cortez)

Angler Science in a Changing Climate

CAMF is a decision-support framework meant to assist the development of more detailed watershed, subwatershed, and eventually stream-reach level planning.

In the last three years, Trout Unlimited staff in Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah have worked with agricultural producers in the Upper Colorado River Basin to facilitate enrollment in a groundbreaking water conservation program, the System Conservation Pilot Program (SCPP). Under the program, farmers and ranchers are compensated for conserving water that would otherwise be diverted from a stream and consumed by the irrigated crops. In many cases the water not diverted increases flows on trout streams that can be dewatered on below-average water years.

Key Headwaters Project partners include the ILVK, Northern Water Conservation District, Denver Water, Colorado River Conservation District, Middle Park Soil Conservation District, Colorado Water Conservation Board, Grand County, Upper Colorado River Alliance, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

The Dolores River Anglers Chapter recently conducted a systematic analysis to understand the likely impact of climate change on coldwater fisheries and their watersheds. The “Coldwater Adaptive Management Framework,” or CAMF, was developed to assess the chapter’s home waters of the upper Dolores River watershed, lying at the intersection of high desert and high mountains. Through CAMF, the chapter recognized that major ecological changes were likely to occur to its trout fisheries and these impacts would likely increase through the end of the century.

Partnering with Ag on System Conservation

The focus is on identifying and managing long-term native and wild trout strongholds within the evolving context of climate change. Strongholds are those streams/reaches where habitat conditions are thought to be sufficiently resilient and resistant to withstand the substantial disturbances of climate change. As a framework, CAMF can help guide resources directed at habitat improvement and public land use. By identifying strongholds, other areas with potential for restoration, and conversely those areas where climate change is likely to render streams inhabitable to trout, it can help in the prioritization of stream conservation efforts in the face of a warmer, more drought prone climate. The Dolores River Anglers are eager to share their experience with other basins. In 2017, staff from Colorado TU and National TU worked closely with the CAMF design team to identify opportunities to expand the program into other watersheds and stream planning efforts across Colorado. The team is currently developing a strategy to expand and pilot the program to other selected areas around the state in 2018. CAMF is providing a scientifically-grounded approach to assessing longterm habitat protection and restoration under a changing climate.

In 2017, Trout Unlimited submitted applications for SCPP funding on two watersheds in western Colorado, Tomichi Creek and the Cimarron River. Funding from the SCPP program for the Tomichi Creek conservation project will be combined with CWCB and private funds to develop a three-year water conservation program, beginning in April 2018 and ending in November 2020. The program will be initiated during the first below-average water year between 2018 and 2020. During implementation, participating water users would cease irrigation deliveries on July 1. The water savings will improve environmental and recreational flows on 6 miles of Tomichi Creek, including through the Tomichi State Wildlife Area. On the Cimarron River, implementing a water conservation project will provide insight into how water market strategy can help improve flows on a valuable coldwater trout fishery that is normally heavily impacted by diversions. Trout Unlimited believes that market-driven tools, like SCPP, that incentivize agricultural water conservation on a voluntary and temporary basis will help provide water for fisheries and the flexibility that water users will need as the Colorado River Basin continues to face shortages.

Reclaiming Mine-Impaired Streams Leavenworth Creek

Abandoned mines have long impaired water quality on Leavenworth Creek in

Lion Creek Lion Creek and its tributary, North Empire Creek, contribute metal pollution from historic mines into the West Fork of Clear Creek, threatening both the resident trout fishery and several residential drinking wells. In 2016, TU removed tailings from the floodplain to help reduce this historic mining pollution. In 2017, TU, in partnership with the US Forest Service and US Geological Survey, conducted further assessments to investigate the remaining sources of contamination in

the watershed. After tracer injections at the Minnesota Mine shaft, the partners sampled downstream locations and found two seeps along Lion Creek that are contributing to downstream metal loading. Based on these results, work is planned for 2018 to divert adit flows around the flooded Minnesota Mine shaft to reduce water contamination, while further developing potential long-term treatment solutions for the mine.

Minnie Lynch Gulch

Leavenworth Creek provides drinking water for Georgetown and supports a healthy brook trout fishery.

the Clear Creek drainage upstream of Georgetown. Over the past several years, TU and project partners have been involved in reclamation work at the Santiago Mine and Mill located in the upper regions of the Leavenworth basin. This year, TU and our partners moved forward with further restoration in the basin to help improve water quality for the stream, its aquatic life, and downstream communities. Efforts in 2017 included revegetation at the Santiago Mine and Mill site. These revegetation efforts aimed to stabilize soils and prevent erosion. TU and partners also worked extensively throughout the Leavenworth basin to remove tailings material from streamside areas, amend contaminated soils, consolidate braided channels and plant riparian vegetation. These efforts will reduce opportunities for heavy metal-laden materials to enter the waterway and contaminate Leavenworth Creek.


In 2017, TU and its project partners tackled the third and final phase of construction at the Minnie Lynch Mine, in the Bonanza Mining District by Kerber Creek in the Rio Grande basin. Construction at Minnie Lynch focused on consolidation, capping and revegetation at four main waste piles remaining at the

site. In addition to these actions, TU incorporated toe slope protection at the base of each waste pile to reduce mass wasting and promote stability. TU also constructed a limestone-lined sediment detention basin to dissipate surface flows, capture contaminated sediment and convey clean water to downstream portions of the site. Finally, TU constructed multiple, vegetated, stable drainage channels across the Minnie Lynch site. These channels will direct surface drainage away from any remaining mine waste and ensure long-term sustainability and stability for the site.

Before and After Vegetation: Shows the work near the confluence of Minnie Lynch and Rawley Gulch before the construction and one year post-reclamation.

Akron Mine The Akron Mine restoration project was closed out in 2017, with final monitoring, weed surveys and revegetation completed. This project, in the Tomichi Creek drainage, was done in partnership with the US Forest Service. No invasive plants were found on site except for common local farm weeds. Final reseeding was completed in late 2017 prior to first snowfall. Previous work in stabilizing and reclaiming this site led to some major national honors for TU’s Abandoned Mine Program. For our work on the Akron Mine site, TU earned the National Association of Abandoned Mine Land Program’s 2017 National Environmental Clean-up award, and the US Forest Service Regional Forester’s Award for Sustaining our Nation’s Forests and Grasslands.

Trout Unlimited in Colorado 2017 Year In Review

Taking flow measurements during a water quality sampling at 11 sites along Tomichi Creek and brown trout collected during fish sampling at two historic sites in October 2017.




Getting Colorado’s Youth Outside

In 2017, Colorado TU and its chapters from Durango to Denver directly served more than 4,000 Colorado youth through approximately 100 different programs and events under TU’s “Stream of Engagement” youth programs. These programs range from Colorado TU’s annual youth camp to the Trout in the Classroom in-school program, from chapter fishing clinics to student water quality monitoring through the RiverWatch program. TU volunteers contributed more than 6,600 hours of service towards these youth education efforts in 2017. With the increasing demand for youth programming

from chapters and communities, Colorado TU has committed to expanding its capacity to support youth education throughout Colorado. The Headwaters Youth Program will be an independentlyfunded initiative committed to inspiring and engaging youth from the elementary school level, all the way through college. Using the “Stream of Engagement” delivery model, Colorado TU (CTU) and its local chapters will provide Colorado youth with a diverse set of experiences at different ages, spanning watershed science, stewardship, and fly-fishing. Our youth programming fosters young adults into vigilant river stewards, competent anglers, and future leaders in Trout Unlimited and their communities. With the proposed expansion of the Stream of Engagement model, the CTU Youth Work Group plans to double the number of youth served over the next five years.

Chapter Spotlight: Gore Range TU (Summit County)

New Signs Along Blue River Encourage Outdoor Learning In partnership with the Town of Silverthorne, TU’s Gore Range Chapter in September 2017 celebrated the opening of the “Blue River Explorer Hike,” a free, self-guided trail that is open daily. The half-mile trail

along the Blue River through town includes new signage highlighting the river’s ecology, history, and significance in the community. The signs provide a more interactive and engaging experience along the trail. Children can pick up a free activity booklet and sticker that accompany the Explorer Hike at the Colorado Welcome Center in the Green Village-Outlets of Silverthorne.

The signs also provide an opportunity to explain trout biology, watershed management, and challenges and solutions of water supply in Colorado. The Gore Range Chapter hopes the project will engage and educate Summit County youth as well as visitors on the importance of their local waters and the habitat it provides for trout and other wildlife.

“Young people today love experiencing nature first hand. CTU Youth Camp gives them the opportunity to learn about the issues facing our environment. 2018 will be my 11th year as a volunteer at CTU Youth Camp. My wife says I return 10 years younger after working with these enthusiastic young campers!” Jim Williams, RSC donor and Pikes Peak Chapter leader


Financial Report: Leveraging Your Impact

Investing in Colorado

In fiscal year 2017, Trout Unlimited in Colorado invested more than $4.7 million toward its conservation and education programs, on-the-ground projects, and chapter support. These funds included the work of the Colorado Council and its 24 local chapters—from legislative advocacy at the General Assembly to an annual youth camp to native trout restoration projects; as well as Colorado-based National Trout Unlimited programs and staff working on initiatives for river conservation, agriculture partnerships, public land protection, and abandoned mine reclamation.

TU in Colorado: By the Numbers

Through the leveraging power of partnerships and grassroots contributions, TU helps make your donor dollars go farther for our conservation mission. Your individual and corporate donations of $595,000 were leveraged by over $4 million in funds from grants, events, and other matching funds. TU cash funds in Colorado were complemented by an additional $1.19 million in “sweat equity”—the value of more than 45,000 volunteer hours contributed through our grassroots volunteers. Additional partners contributed another $169,000 toward our efforts as cash match on joint projects—not to mention the substantial in-kind contribution of agency partners like Colorado Parks and Wildlife whose biologists help advise and conduct projects in collaboration with Trout Unlimited. In total, more than $10 of conservation value was generated from each $1 of individual and corporate support to Trout Unlimited in Colorado.

24 Active Chapters 20 Professional Staff Members 12,415 Grassroots Members

The vast majority of TU funds go directly into programs for conservation, education, and grassroots engagement. For fiscal year 2017, 85% of TU in Colorado funds were directed toward program services, 12% for general administration, and 3% for fundraising.

“RSC donors gathering to fish at North Fork Ranch

45,732 Volunteer Service Hours

PLUS $169,000 Project Partner Funds

$4.7 Million Invested 94 Chapter Youth Events 42 Veterans Service Projects 68 Chapter Grassroots Conservation Projects

PLUS $1.19 Million – In-kind Volunteer Service

$4.11 Million – Grants, Events & Other Leveraged Funding

Protect Our Rivers Partnership Program donors are corporate partners who care about healthy rivers and fisheries and contribute annually in support of Colorado TU’s work to protect and restore our state’s watersheds and wild places.

More than 10:1 Leveraging of Your Commitment! $595,000 – Individual and Corporate Donations


Trout Unlimited in Colorado 2017 Year In Review

Your Support Makes the Difference! River Stewardship Council (RSC) donors provide core support for Colorado Trout Unlimited’s work on stream management planning, native trout reintroduction, watershed and conservation education for Colorado youth, engagement with our 24 chapters and over 11,000 grassroots members, and more. This community of seventy donors is committed to conserving, protecting, and restoring Colorado’s rivers and wild places. As members of our flagship donor society, RSC donors contribute $1000 or more annually and enjoy exclusive trip invitations and an annual donor dinner. Trout Unlimited was born in 1959 when George Griffith brought together a group of anglers at his home on the banks of the Au Sable River in Michigan. The Griffith Circle honors the legacy of these founding members while raising essential resources to continue the march toward their vision. Griffith Circle members make annual contributions of $1,000 or more and support the full range of nationwide Trout Unlimited projects– conservation science as well as environmental education, advocacy, hands-on restoration work, and so much more. The Silver Trout Foundation was established through a generous bequest from former Colorado TU president Steve Lundy and funds are managed by past recipients of the prestigious Silver Trout award. The Foundation manages endowment funds for the longterm benefit of Colorado TU and provides donors interested in making endowment gifts a vehicle for leaving their own legacy of coldwater conservation.

For more information or to join RSC, the Griffith Circle, to discuss legacy giving through the Silver Trout Foundation, or if your business is interested in becoming a Protect Our Rivers corporate partner, please reach out to Shannon Kindle, Colorado TU Development Director at

Thank You!

Trout Unlimited thanks the generous individuals, businesses, and foundations whose support – along with yours – makes our successes possible: Griffith Circle/River Stewardship Council Donors John Aaron Bruce Allbright Anonymous Tanya Argo and Chris Striebich Mary and Dan Armour Jerry Arnold Judith Baxter Paul Benedetti Bob Biebel James Boak Chuck Brega Richard Brennan James Buckler Graham Buggs Jeff Burrows Joe Cannon Stanley Capps Cam Chandler Adam Cherry Robert Collins Anne and Tim Collins Steve and Tracy Craig Gordy Crawford Chris Crosby Mac Cunningham Kirk and Sarah Deeter Michael and Jean Delaney Stanley Dempsey Harry Devereaux Mark and Katy Dickson David and Michelle DiGiacomo Jackie and Glen Edwards Terry Escamilla Eli Feldman Richard Finlon John and Denise Frontczak Timothy Gablehouse Thomas Gargan Kate and Sam Gary, Jr. Caleb Gates, Jr. Walt Gustafson, Jr. Chris Hanson Jonathan Harinck Frederick Heath Warren Hemphill Walter Henes Matthew Henrichs Kent Heyborne Ryan Hogan Mark Hohlen Brian Holaway Alan Howard Larry Howe Graydon Hubbard Ken Hunter Jim Jackson Ken and Peggy James Dick and Linda Jefferies Michael Jefferson

Scott Jennings Pitch and Cathie Johnson William Jones Brice Karsh Eileen Katz Robert Kendig Randy Keogh Ken Kinsman Wes Knoll Michael Kohut Jennie Kurtz Jeff Lacy Steve Lampman Sharon and Mark Lance Allan Larson Bart Leary Steve Lopez Thomas Lorden Barbara Luneau Randy Luskey Donald MacKenzie Cargill MacMillan, III Clyde Manning Joe Marr Douglas Martel Russ Martin Corey Martin Lee Mather, Jr Chris Maughan Thomas McDermott John McDermott Douglas McDonald Michael McGoldrick Patrick McGuire Clif McIntosh Craig Meier Edward Miknevicius C. Randall Miles Fred & Carolyn Miller Thomas and Elene Mooney Gerald Moore George Orbanek Clint Packo Bruce Papich Donald Peak Marshall and Beckie Pendergrass Joel and Karen Piassick Doug Pierce Jay and Molly Precourt Tim Ratterman Robert Rich Ian Rich Kirk Rider Daniel Ritt John Roberts John Rodney David Rootes Ronald Rudy Paul Rullkoetter Gerald and Jacqueline Ryan R. Sable Ray Samuelson Thomas Sayor Alan Schulz Liza Scott

Elizabeth Searle Chuck Shaver Celia Sheneman Ted Sillox Harry Simpson D. Leo Slattery Dale Smith Ronnie Smith Kurt and Liz Soderberg Brian Spear George Stark Andrew Steketee Chris Stephan Dennis Swanson Jerry Tamlin Stephen Thompson Danielle Thomson Bradley Tucker Dave Wenman Charles Whiting Alexander Wiegers Erik Wilkinson Ryan Willett Jim Williams Andrew Wolf Alex Woodruff Art Zimmer

Major Corporate, Agency and Foundation Supporters 8 Rivers Rodeo African Eyes Travel Allen Kube Bamboo Rods Anadarko Petroleum Andes Drifters Anglers All Anonymous Ascent Fly Fishing Blue Valley Ranch Bonneville Environmental Foundation Bureau of Land Management Butler Rents Citywide Banks Coalition for the Poudre River Watershed Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Colorado Parks and Wildlife Colorado River Basin Roundtable Colorado Rodmakers Reunion Colorado Water Conservation Board Conscience Bay Company Crosse Malcolm Cutthroat Anglers Denver Water Dvorak's Fishing Expeditions ECI Site Construction Management

Factor Design Build Fishpond Fly Fish Australia Inc Freeport McMoRan Freestone Aquatics Front Range Anglers Gates Family Foundation God's River Lodge Gunnison Basin Roundtable Jack Dennis Fly Fishing Kirk's Fly Shop Lost Valley Ranch Madison Valley Ranch Maris Group MillerCoors National Forest Foundation National Park Service New Belgium Family Foundation Newmont Mining North Fork Ranch Northern Water Natural Resources Conservation Service Occasions Catering Rep Your Water Rio Grande Vacation Rentals and Wolf Creek Anglers Fly Shop Ripple Creek Lodge Rocky Mountain Flyathlon/ Running Rivers San Luis Valley Conservation and Connection Initiative Scott Fly Rods Silver Trout Foundation Southwest Generation Suncor Sunrise Pack Station Tenkara USA The Broadmoor Fly Fishing Camp The Precourt Foundation The Wiegers Family Foundation Tiffany & Co. Foundation Tight Lines Alaska Town of Gypsum Trouts Fly Fishing U.S. Forest Service Upper Colorado River Alliance Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District Upslope Brewing US Fish and Wildlife Service Vail Resorts Walton Family Foundation Western Conservation Foundation Western Native Trout Initiative William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Wyss Foundation


Trout Unlimited in Colorado Colorado TU State Council Officers

Cam Chandler, President Dick Jefferies, Vice President Larry Howe, Secretary Ken James, Treasurer Marshall Pendergrass, Past President Mac Cunningham, National Leadership Council Representative Ken Neubecker, Regional Vice President Tom Jones, Regional Vice President Barbara Luneau, Regional Vice President Glen Edwards, Regional Vice President

Colorado TU State Council Staff & Contractors Denver

1536 Wynkoop Street Suite 320 Denver, CO 80202


1309 E. 3rd Avenue Suite 109 Durango, CO 81301

Grand Junction

115 North Fifth Street Suite 409 Grand Junction, CO 81501


128 East 1st Street Suite 203 Salida, CO 81201

David Nickum, Executive Director, Daniel Omasta, Grassroots Coordinator, Shannon Kindle, Development Director, Jen Boulton, Legislative Liaison, Andrea Smith, Communications & Membership Coordinator, Ashley Rust, Water Quality Technical Consultant,

TU Western Water & Habitat Program Staff

Drew Peternell, Colorado Water Project Director, Brian Hodge, Yampa/White River Basin Project Manager, Cary Denison, Gunnison River Basin Project Manager, Mely Whiting, Legal Counsel, David Stillwell, Office and Internal Communications Manager, Jesse Kruthaupt, Upper Gunnison River Project Specialist, Richard Van Gytenbeek, Colorado River Basin Organizer, Kevin Terry, Rio Grande Project Manager, Lauren Duncan, Mine Restoration Project Manager, Jason Willis, Mine Restoration Project Manager, Kaitlyn Vaux, Yampa-White Project Coordinator, Aaron True, White River Project Manager,

TU Communications Staff

Randy Scholfield, Communications Director, Southwest Region, Joshua Duplechian, Senior Producer,

TU Sportsmen’s Conservation Project Staff

Steve Kandell, Sportsmen’s Conservation Project Director, Ty Churchwell, San Juan Mountains Coordinator, Garrett Hanks, Southwest Colorado Field Coordinator,

Cover panorama by Joshua Duplechian | Senior Producer, Insets by Mark Lance | Annual Report Design by Lopez Design Group,

Western Regional Rendezvous Comes to Colorado by Dan Omasta

Spring 2018 • High Country Angler


On April 26-28, 2018, over 200 anglers and conservation leaders from throughout the western United States will meet in Keystone, Colorado for the 10th annual Trout Unlimited Western Regional Rendezvous. This inspiring and informative event couples the latest in fisheries science and TU programs with a variety of trainings and networking opportunities. Topics at this year’s conference will include: the defense of public lands, mining, native trout restoration, stream management planning, youth education programs, climate change, wildfire, and more! There will also be a number of great trainings for chapter leaders and anglers who are interested in building community coalitions, fundraising, member engage-

ment, advocacy, and communications. A series of skill-building “TU 101” presentations are specially tailored to help new or prospective chapter leaders – as well as to provide refreshers for long-time leaders. The Western Regional Rendezvous is open to new and experienced TU leaders, as well as general members. Sessions during the two-day conference running on April 27-28 provide a unique opportunity for anglers and passionate river stewards to interact with national TU staff, fisheries biologists, and public officials. Whether you are a seasoned chapter president or just picked up a flyrod for the first time, the Rendezvous has something for you! “As a chapter president, contacts I made and info

For more information and to register your spot, visit western-regional today! Colorado TU also has limited scholarships available for firsttime attendees; contact me at Daniel. for more information.


High Country Angler • Spring 2018

gained at the regional rendezvous has helped grow our local membership and engage more women and youth in fly fishing,” says Ben Bloodworth, president of the Grand Valley Anglers TU chapter in Grand Junction, CO. Thanks to great business partners including Cutthroat Anglers, Odell Brewing, Rep Your Water, and Upslope Brewing, there will also be a lot of fun to be had throughout the weekend. Thursday night: Conservation Film Fest and networking with some of the films’ producers. Friday Night: Iron Fly-style Fly Tying Competition full of mystery ingredients and competitor challenges. Saturday Night: TU banquet with keynote speaker Jack Dennis, legendary fly tyer and guide. Sunday: Colorado TU awards breakfast, plus fishing opportunities throughout the region. The Western Regional Rendezvous is a great chance to meet fellow anglers, get the latest in fisheries science, learn how to be a stronger community leader, HC and have a whole lot of fun!

38339 US Hwy 50 Gunnison, CO 81230 970.641.1442

Island Acres

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


bout The Author.

Dan Omasta is the Grassroots Coordinator for Colorado Trout Unlimited, working with 24 chapters across the state.

Spring 2018 • High Country Angler


Dubbing 101: Getting to Know the Essentials for Dubbing Great Flies


by Ryan McSparran

High Country Angler • Spring 2018


hen an angler walks into a fly shop and is faced with a wall of dubbing options, it’s easy to understand the intimidation factor. No matter where you’re fishing, or what types of fish you’re casting to, dubbing is an essential element for tying great flies. But it’s an element that many tiers can struggle with. Before the tying begins, it’s necessary to sort through a myriad of natural furs and synthetic materials in a wide range of colors, textures and densities. Once you pick your poison, you’ve still got to figure out how to tie with it most effectively. Where does one begin? I recently sat down with local fly tying guru and Anglers All store manager, Greg Garcia, to get his take on dubbing. Greg had some reassuring advice. “Questions about dubbing are some of the most common tying questions that we receive in the shop,” Greg told me. Apparently, navigating these waters is a common thing. I’m glad I’m not alone. Here are a few valuable things that I took away from my conversation with Greg.

mean you can’t use it in other applications,” Greg explained. “There’s a time and place for anything. For example, Antron dubbing is often used for nymphs. However, it is also commonly used on Stimulators and Adams, both dry flies.” “Rabbit, beaver are very soft and pliable,” Greg continued. “These natural furs are great for dry flies. But of course, there’s the Hare’s Ear nymph, which is tied with rabbit too. When it

comes to selecting dubbing for a particular task, there are rarely any hard and fast rules.” When picking out dubbing, Greg suggests opening the package and getting a feel for the material. Is it flat and smooth? Or does it have a lot of texture to it? For example, you’ll notice that Super Fine Dubbing is very smooth, perfect for dry flies and sleek-looking nymphs. On the other hand, if you take a pinch of Squirrel

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Start With Texture and Color According to Greg, it helps to begin by narrowing down your choices by texture and color. “If you’re tying a dry fly, you probably want a dubbing material that’s on the softer, finer side of the spectrum. A heavy, tinsel-like material may not be the best place to start for dries,” Greg said. “But that still leaves you with many options. So the next determining factor is probably color.” If you’re tying a fly to imitate a specific aquatic insect or baitfish, you might be looking for a specific color to match it. This might be the best way to narrow down your dubbing choices. If you can find the perfect color in a material that seems reasonable for the task, you’re in business. “Just because it says ‘dry fly’ or ‘nymph’ on the package doesn’t

Spring 2018 • High Country Angler



High Country Angler • Spring 2018

Photos by Davis James

fur, you’ll notice immediately that it’s spikier. It lends itself to flies with a more bushy appearance. With the correct color and texture for the fly you intend to tie, it’s time to sit down at the vise. Put it into Practice Before you begin spinning dubbing onto your thread, take some time to prep it. This is something it’s easy to blow right past. “When you take a piece of dubbing out of the package, pinch it on either end with your forefingers and thumbs,” Greg told me. “Pull it apart, and then stack it back together. Do this a few times to remove any knots and to get the fibers running in the same direction.” Taking a few seconds to prep your dubbing in this way will save a few headaches. It will be much easier to apply the dubbing onto the thread and the dubbing will adhere to the thread much more evenly. Greg added that one of the keys to dubbing is to use a little dubbing on a lot of thread – we’re talking wisps here. It’s much less than you might initially think. Start with a very tiny amount. You can always add more. “Good dubbing wax makes a world of difference,” said Greg. “I recommend Overton’s Wonder Wax or BT’s Dubbing Wax. But be careful, because it’s easy to use too much. You want just enough to gain some purchase on the dubbing.” Greg demonstrated as he lightly dabbed his finger a few times on the top of the wax. That’s it. It doesn’t take much. “Be firm in the way you pinch it on,” he continued. “Imagine the amount of pressure you use when you snap your fingers. That’s about what it should feel like. And be sure that you’re always spinning the same direction.” Try Mixing Materials When you’ve got the hang of it, you might want to start mixing your own materials. Blending materials has a couple of advantages. “If you don’t like manufacturers colors, you can always try mixing your own,” Greg said. “I will also mix dubbing if I want to add a different texture or perhaps a material with a little more flash.” “For example, I like taking the Nature’s Spirit Emergence Antron and mixing it with the Fine Natural Dubbing in a similar color,” Greg explained. “This is great for adding a little bit of sparkle to a thorax. You might even add a small amount of a bright or contrasting color to add highlights.” To mix dubbing, use the same method described above for prepping dubbing. Stack it, then pull it apart and stack it again. Repeat until blended. When mixing dubbing, Greg recommends keeping

notes on what you used. Find your ideal ratio for blending. If you used a 1-to-1, or 2-to-1 ratio, writing it down will make it easier to reproduce those great ideas later. Practice With Dubbing Loops Finally, you might want to try working with a dubbing loop. This is a great way to add new elements to your flies. To create a loop in your thread, simply pull your bobbin down several inches below the hook. Wrap the bobbin down around your forefinger and bring it back up to the hook. Tie it in with a few wraps to create the hanging loop. From here, you can stack materials into the loop, spin them with a dubbing loop spinner, and then begin making wraps onto the hook. “Dubbing loops are great for creating a large, breathable thorax or perhaps adding a collar with some bulk,” Greg suggested. “Dubbing loops are very durable. They’re great for mixing materials and can even provide an appearance like wrapping hackle.” The essential tools here include a dubbing spinner and a dubbing brush. Greg recommended the OPST Spinner, as its hexagon shape keeps it from rolling across the table. The next time you’re staring at the wall of dubbing materials at your fly shop, don’t let the intimidation overwhelm you. Be confident in your ability to experiment and discover some new tricks. Each of those unique materials represents another option, not HC more rules. Dive in, and make it fun. Spring 2018 • High Country Angler




28 Shades of Purple


ot being a strong patron of the arts, things such as art, music, painting, sculpture, music, symphony and such are not high on my lists of interests. Maybe they should be. But I do remember a famous poem, although I had to look it up. Digressing a moment, it is fascinating to me, being someone who had a full encyclopedia set at my school homework desk, how the internet has put all information, not all of it true, but nonetheless lots of info at our (literal) fingertip. Point being, even though I remembered the poem, I only sort-of could recall it so I looked it up in an instant online. The poem is “How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43) by Elizabeth Browning from the 1800’s. (By the way, what’s the difference between a poem and a sonnet? Guess I’ll look that up as well). Her poem begins with “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” Remember, this was before 50 Shades of Gray came along. Maybe Ms. Browning was also a fly tyer. If she were composing and tying today, the answer to her question would be 28. That’s the number of fly tying materials I found available in the color purple upon doing a search of a well-known supplier online catalog. (There it is again – online). When I learned to tie, you had to order a catalog by mail with $3 plus postage and wait! The catalog begins with marabou,

The Psycho Prince Hook: 10-16 nymph, including 2x long Thread: Brown 8/0 Bead: Gold brass Tail: Brown goose biot Rib: Gold or copper wire, medium Abdomen: Purple UV dubbing Thorax (collar):Brown UV dubbing Abdomen back: Pheasant tail or brown turkey Wing case: Opal ribbon floss Wings: White goose biot

and there are 3 instances there alone – purple plumes, purple marabou, and purple woolly bugger. There are probably more than 28 but that’s what the search came up with. Why, I wouldn’t be surprised if you could now order a purple handle whip finisher. So why am I talking about purple? Because fly tying evolves. Take dubbing for example. In the days before synthetics with only natural materials, there was no purple dubbing. But realize there could have been. White wool or cotton could have easily been dyed purple, they just didn’t. It would have been heresy. Then came synthetic material, initially only in natural colors, say Adams Gray. Now there is most any color, purple being just one. Bright colors were first used commonly in saltwater, salmon, and steelhead patterns, but not so much in the more stoic realm of trout patterns. But with more scientific study of how color appears to a fish, both above and underwater, certain colors are being used in new patterns, as well as bout The Author. replacing the traditional shades Joel Evans is a fly fishing writer, photographer, in long-standing patterns. and long-time member of Trout Unlimited from Purple has caught on. Purple Montrose, CO. You can contact him via the HCA editor at wooly bugger, purple hares’ ear, purple prince, purple girdle bug.

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You get the idea. Search the internet (again) and you will discover uncommon patterns such as purple haze, purple baby tarpon, and purple moon. Getting hard to keep up. I may not be well-rounded in the arts, but I can tie a purple fly. Hey, wait a minute – fly tying is an art, right? So maybe I am an artisan. Well, at least it is a craft, even as a hobby. So tie a purple fly. I’ll take it a step further – I’ll use purple ultraviolet. Hope HC I don’t get arrested.

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Spring 2018 • High Country Angler




On Habitat Modeling and Flows Legislation to support actions for creating a “Mussel-Free Colorado” has led to discussions about aquatic nuisance species, invasive species, injurious wildlife, non-native species, colonizing species, aquatic weeds, and other descriptive terms. Are all these words just different terms for the same thing, or are there real biological differences? Are they really a big threat to Colorado fisheries?


This is a very timely question; especially for Colorado, but, also for other areas in the United States… and the rest of the Earth. The short answer is: “maybe.” Some are threats, but as with many questions in the worlds of ecology and resource management, it depends on the situation. I resist “labeling”, whether the discussion pertains to biology or politics. Ecology, as with many aspects of biological science, is a field marked with probabilities rather than absolute certainties. Fortunately, general principles have been developed and can be applied to questions, such as the potential effects of “aquatic nuisance species”. The primary concerns of the “Musselfree Colorado” initiative are two non-native freshwater mussels (mollusks, aka, “clams”), the zebra mussel and the quagga mussel. In my opinion, both of these species really are major nuisances. In some environments, they qualify as disastrous. The fact that they are non-native species is relatively unim-



High Country Angler • Spring 2018

portant, in its own right. What makes them ecological disasters is their ability to totally disrupt the normal functions of an ecosystem. They are filter feeders that feed by filtering bacteria, detritus, and algae from the water, thereby disrupting the normal food web of the ecosystem, They reproduce in enormous numbers, numbers so great they can cause physical disruption of the system, In addition, they have no natural enemies in most North American aquatic ecosystems; therefore, once a colony is established, they reproduce without anything to check their population explosion. They are more than a nuisance. Readers should note that I consider these mussels likely to be disastrous because of their effects on the functional aspects of the ecosystem. The fact that they are nonnative species is not enough to make them nuisance species; it’s the damage they create. However, in the opinion of some environmentalists, all non-native species are nuisances when they are introduced outside their native ranges. I suggest that many, perhaps most, trout anglers do not consider species such as, rainbow trout and brown trout to be nuisances when they provide the basis for a world-class fishery. Whether or not something is an environmental nuisance can be a matter of opinion, based on individual beliefs and not scientifically valid evidence. A basic question in any discussion about ecosystem disruption is the frame of reference. Is the simple addition of a species, or the removal of a species, a serious enough change to consider it a disruption? Once

again, there is no answer that always applies. native is a fact-based term. The species was If the ecosystem is considered to be a func- either present or it was not present prior to tional system of energy and nutrient flow, its introduction by humans. Colonizing spethe discussion is different from a discussion cies is a valid scientific term used to describe about a specific species compromising the the ability of the plant, animal, or microbe structure of the system. Typical ecosystems to establish and maintain itself in a new enare composed of primary producer species, vironment. Invasive means the same thing various levels of consumer species, and de- as colonizing, but carries an emotional imcomposer species. Changes in the specific pact that creates alarm. There is an official plants, animals, and bacteria can be accom- list of injurious wildlife that is developed modated without substantial disruption; and maintained by the U.S. Fish and Wildexcept for a few keystone species that play life Service, but it is somewhat subjective. critical roles in the overall system of nutriIn the case of the zebra and quagga musent and energy flow. sels, they are colonizing, invasive, and nonWhen ecosystems are considered to be native to Colorado waters – and capable of “perfect balances of nature” composed of disrupting ecosystems and the fisheries despecies that have evolved together over eons pendent on the systems. I consider them to of time, the specific species-based structure be injurious, disruptive nuisances; an opinbecomes all-important. Any change, be it ion shared by most scientists and the public an addition or a deletion, can be considered in general. The evidence for applying these a major disruption by individuals holding descriptions is overwhelming and Colorado such beliefs. Advocates of this view may should move forward as rapidly as possible call me a “contrarian” because I do not agree to implement effective control procedures. with their rigid ideas as to what constitutes However, Colorado politicians and manan ecosystem. Quantitative ecologists who agers must word legal definitions carefully develop mathematical models of ecosystems so as to allow for the introduction of nonhave gone so far as to claim that “natural” native species that do not disrupt the funcecosystems are ideal in structure and as ef- tions of natural ecosystems. Remember, ficient in nutrient and energy transfer as is many species for which we fish and almost possible. However, such conclusions can be all of the species we use for food are HC made only if specific sets of assumptions are non-native. used as the base for the models. Reality is different. Terms such as, nuisance species, weeds, bout The Author. and injurious wildlife John Nickum, is a retired PhD. fishery biologist reflect human values and whose career has included positions as emotions. While they professor at research universities including Iowa State and may be useful for comCornell University, director of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s munication purposes, fisheries research facility in Bozeman, MT, and science they lack the specific officer for the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Mountain-Prairie Region. He was inducted into the National Fish Culture definitions needed for Hall of Fame in 2008. science-based models and discussions. Non-


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