Wyoming Trout Unlimited Fall 2022 "The Trout Tale"

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WYOMING COUNCIL OF TROUT UNLIMITED
The Trout Tale
FALL 2022

Reflections

Iwas looking for a couple of old family photos a while back when I came upon this one. It’s dated 1980, and it looks to have been taken in the late summer. That’s Jenny on the right — she’s our oldest daughter and she would have been four years old. Beth, our middle daughter, is on the left and she’s two. We had been fishing a tiny blue line creek near the home place, and each is holding a small brook trout that they caught themselves.

I’ve often thought that this photo reveals a lot about who they were as little girls. Jenny looks more than a little hesitant about the whole thing. She was not about to touch that fish, so we threaded it on a willow branch for her. She was the oldest, and ever aware of the uncertain vagaries of life. Beth is absolutely thrilled with the day’s adventure. The fish is clutched tightly in her left hand and it looks a little the worse for wear. It’s her first grip-and-grin photo. Four decades later, she still radiates confidence like that in front of a camera.

we wanted our girls to follow in their resilient and independent footsteps. We were pretty sure that our shared love of the outdoors would be a part of that, but we weren’t exactly sure how. So we just took them with us, and we all had adventures together. I think those family adventures played a big role in making them the women they are today.

Naturally, there were high points and low points.A ferocious frog-drowning rain in the Bighorns helped us understand that people who camped with pre-schoolers probably needed a tent.Alate spring hike into a backcountry lake in the Wind Rivers taught us that hypothermia is no joke. They learned which mushrooms to pick and which ones to avoid. They learned to pick wild berries and make jelly. They learned the names of the peaks and the creeks and they learned the family stories that went with those places. Maybe most important, they learned that they could do hard things.

Neither of the women who were girls in the photo fish much anymore. They have husbands and jobs and college-age kids. They also have a deep and abiding love for wild things and wild places, and they’ve taught that to their own families. They work hard and they don’t back down when they encounter opposition. They see things through to the end. They’re kind and committed to doing the right things.

Now, from the comfortable perch of my late 60s, I see my younger friends with their children and the images they share of their own adventures together

Now, from the comfortable perch of my late 60s, I see my younger friends with their children and the images they share of their own adventures together. The Walraths withAven and Susie, Christine and Josh with Miriam, Tom and Shauna with Clare and Otto — they’re compelling images and wonderful stories. They’re obviously having the time of their lives, and I remember how that felt.And I expect their photos and stories capture a good deal of who those kids are, and maybe even a little of the women and men they will become.

Kim and I may have been the most clueless people God ever blessed with a child. Neither of us knew the first thing about parenting. But we knew that we wanted to raise strong women. Each of us came from a line of strong women, and

So keep it up, my young friends. Take them fishing and hunting and camping. Let them be cold and dirty and exhausted. Sometimes there will be tears. Sometimes there will be puke on the pickup seats. But in the end, I promise you, it will be worth it.

Walt Gasson is the Director of Trout Unlimited’s Endorsed Business program.

He is a fourth-generation Wyoming native and has worked in conservation for over 40 years in government, non-profits and the private sector.Walt currently resides in Laramie with his beautiful wife, Kim.

THE TROUT TALE 2 FALL 2022 PERSPECTIVE Walt Gasson

The

The Trout Tale

Fall 2022

The Trout Tale is a quarterly newsletter of the Wyoming Council of Trout Unlimited. The deadline for submission of articles, information, photos and content for the Winter 2023 newsletter (January, February and March) will be March 1, 2023. Send all contributions for the winter issue to Wyoming Coordinator Mike Jensen at mike.jensen@tu.org.

The Trout Tale is available online at the council’s website: wyomingtu.org.

© 2022 Wyoming Council of Trout Unlimited

• Mike Jensen, Newsletter Editor

• Kathy Buchner, Chair

Proud recipient of the 2014 Trout Unlimited “Bollinger Award For Best Newsletter”

Wyoming Council of Trout Unlimited P.O. Box 22182 Cheyenne,WY 82009

e-mail: mike.jensen@tu.org

Phone: 307.421.3188

www.wyomingtu.org

ON THE COVER:

Trout Unlimited 2022 Women’s Float participant Katrina Marcoss is all smiles after catching and landing this incredible cutthroat trout.

Photo by Clint Kendall, Seedskadee Trout Unlimited chapter member and women’s float volunteer

Community

I’ve been mulling over the word “community” recently and how it applies to Trout Unlimited — at the national level, here in Wyoming at the council level, and probably most importantly, at the local chapter level.

Somewhere — sorry, I cannot quote the source — I came across the following description:

“Communities assemble to share unique experiences or solve common problems. An example might be a local environmental group that comes together to raise awareness and money, take care of local open spaces and enjoy those open spaces. Within that community, there will be diverse interests and experiences. Some people participate primarily by enjoying the open spaces and occasionally contributing money and others with an intense interest in the health of trees or trails participate more substantively in those areas.”

Communities assemble to share unique experiences or solve common problems

It’s easy to translate this into what we do for Trout Unlimited (TU). We have diverse interests and experiences, but as members of TU, we have come together to raise awareness of our local fisheries — their condition, threats they may face, and how we can take care of them. Some folks participate primarily by enjoying fishing! Others donate money to support us in our efforts to conserve, protect, and restore our fisheries. And others get out and actually “roll rocks,” plant willows, build fences, etc.

At the chapter level, all successful TU communities should have events that gather members for discussion, celebration, or joint activities. Typically communities are big enough that not everyone knows each other but small enough that everyone feels some personal responsibility to contribute. Whether it is just a business meeting to elect new officers, a banquet to raise money, a fly tying demonstration, or casting clinic, Chapter meetings help strengthen the ties that brought us together in the first place.

Which brings me to “volunteering.” You don’t have to dedicate a ton of time to it — just try it out! Bring along a friend or two and you may find volunteering easier. Got a favorite fly pattern that gets ‘em every cast? Get together with others and share your tying expertise. You may even find new fishing companions.

Volunteering is for everyone — young or old! Better yet — young AND old! Get involved in your local chapter Kids’ Fishing day.

If you would like to participate more in your local chapter’s activities, contact Mike Jensen or myself, and we can put you in touch with others in your geographic community so that you can join the TU community!

Kathy Buchner has called Jackson,Wyoming, home since 1971. She served as Wyoming Trout Unlimited’s Director from 1993-2002, and has been an active advocate for trout fisheries for some 30 years. She enjoys spending time with her two grandkids (who, at 7 and 4-/2, love to fish). Kathy can be reached by e-mail at kbuchner@wyoming.com.

FROM THE CHAIR Kathy Buchner
FALL 2022 3 THE TROUT TALE
official newsletter of the Wyoming Council of Trout Unlimited
• Volume 8, Issue 2
THE TROUT TALE 4 FALL 2022

OUR MISSION:

restoring Wyoming’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds

WYOMING COUNCIL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEMBERS:

Kathy Buchner

Jackson Hole..........................................Chair

Sadie Valdez

Rock Springs..................................Vice Chair

Tom Brown

Cody................................................Secretary

Jim Hissong

Mountain View.................................Treasurer

Werner Studer

Casper............................NLC Representative

Dave Sweet

Cody...................................At Large Member

John Madia

Sheridan.............................At Large Member

John Burrows

Lander................................At Large Member

Cole Sherard

Laramie...........................................Past Chair

Mike Jensen

Cheyenne...................Council Coordinator

WYOMING TROUT UNLIMITED CHAPTERS

Grey Reef

Curt Gowdy

East Yellowstone

Jackson Hole

Laramie Valley

Little Bighorn

Platte Valley

Popo Agie Anglers

Seedskadee

Upper Bear River

Upper Green River

Looking forward to seeing you in Cody

The Wyoming Council of Trout Unlimited is pleased to announce that our annual fall council meeting wlll take place on October 28, 29 and 30 in historic Cody, Wyoming.

As always, our council — made up of volunteers from the executive committee, chapter leadership, staff members and conservation partners — gather twice a year to meet as a group to receive updates on statewide projects and happenings, receive Trout Unlimited national and chapter reports, hold training sessions and take care of council business.

I know I speak for the council committee when I say we are extremely pleased to be able to meet in person once again. Prior to our spring council meeting in Green River in April of this year, the last council meeting we were able to conduct was in early November 2019 in Pinedale, thanks to the COVID outbreak. Hopefully that is all behind us as we move forward.

“We are looking to have another informative and well-attended council meeting,” said Kathy Buchner, who serves as council chair. “Thanks to the members of the East Yellowstone Chapter in Cody for hosting our fall council meeting.”

Indeed we are.

The three-day weekend will kick off with a variety of fall fishing opportunities in and around the Cody area. There are three fly shops in town including Trout Unlimited Business member North Fork Anglers. They are located at 1107 Sheridan Ave. and you can reach Tim Wade and his staff by calling (307) 527-7274. Council Treasurer Jim Hissong is serving as “stream keeper” and will come up with some options for anglers on where to go and possibly connect people who might want to fish together that day. Contact Jim at (307) 780-6670 or email him at wyohiss@gmail.com.

Hotel check-in will also take place on Friday beginning at 3 p.m. The Cody Hotel is located at 232 West Yellowstone Ave. and can be reached by calling (307) 587-5915. A special room rate of $139 was extended to Wyoming Trout Unlimited for those who made reservations prior to September 30.

Friday night, attendees will gather at the Millstone Pizza Company and Brewery after 5 p.m. The restaurant/brewery is located at 1057 Sheridan Ave. in Cody and can be reached by calling (307) 586-4131. This is an informal gathering and each person will pay for their own meal and drinks.

On Saturday, our annual fall council meeting will begin at 8 a.m. in the conference room located in the Cody Hotel. Everyone is responsible for their own breakfast (those who are staying at the Cody Hotel, a complimentary buffet breakfast will be served daily from 6:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.) Mid-morning snacks, beverages and lunch will be provided by the East Yellowstone Chapter in the conference room.

A great lineup of speakers will be on hand for the meeting. A detailed meeting agenda will be available by mid-October.

On Saturday evening, we’ll gather in the Governor’s Room at the historic Irma Hotel located at 1192 Sheridan Ave. Their phone number is (307) 587-4221. Each person will be responsible for their own beverages, but the buffet dinner will be paid for by the Wyoming Council of Trout Unlimited. We will also have a big raffle after dinner. Please consider donating an item for the raffle to help cover expenses of the meeting.

Sunday will feature a short field trip, beginning at 8:15 a.m., to visit the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s new regional complex, and Newton Lake.

If anyone has any questions, give me a call or drop me an e-mail. I look forward to seeing you in Cody soon.

To join Trout Unlimited today, go to tu.org and click on the “Memberships & Giving” tab. Then choose “become a member.”

Mike Jensen currently serves as the Wyoming Council Coordinator for Trout Unlimited, and he and his wife, Jodi, call the Cheyenne area home.When he’s not at his desk, puttering around the “Lazy J” with the dog or tying a few flies, you’ll find him driving his drift boat in search of big Wyoming trout. E-mail Mike at mike.jensen@tu.org.

Mike Jensen
FALL 2022 5 THE TROUT TALE
Conserving, protecting and

SEEING THE BIG PICTURE ON SPREAD CREEK

When John F Turner of the Triangle X Ranch started to say on camera, “Perhaps it’s a genetic disorder…”, I wasn’t entirely sure where his story was headed. We had been out in a horse pasture near the Cunningham Cabin in Grand Teton National Park, on lands his family had been irrigating since long before the national park had even been established, shooting an interview for a new film to tell the story of our Spread Creek Fish Passage Project. He had arrived in a green vintage US Fish and Wildlife Service pickup truck, along with his dog Banjo and much more Wyoming rancher “street cred” than could be found in the entire Cowboy Bar in downtown Jackson Hole.

John had been answering each question like the seasoned pro he is, a “one-take wonder” as Josh Duplechian, Trout Unlimited’s (TU) Senior Producer, and I had taken to calling him.Although now retired and representing his family’s historic ranch, his career had included time as a wildlife biologist, Wyoming state legislator, and several stints in Washington D.C., directing agencies and conservation NGOs – clearly no stranger to public speaking. So when he continued smoothly on with “…but the Turners have been

addicted to fly fishing for cutthroat trout for five generations, and we’ve enjoyed this wonderful landscape and rivers and streams…,” we smiled behind the camera.

Josh, TU’s master storyteller behind the camera, had reached out over the course of the busy summer to ask me what I wanted the Spread Creek film to focus on, what stories and themes I wanted to bring to light. True to form when faced with a stacked calendar and a number of deadlines, I had responded matterof-factly, more focused on the practical details and tasks at hand – which partners we should interview, who needed to be where on what day – that I didn’t really give much thought to the storytelling part of things. Josh had been quick to remind me that we would keep the film below five minutes, because no one has an attention span longer than that these days, and that we needed cool fish shots and sweet drone footage to get viewers to care, not just a bunch of talking heads.

After John had made quick work of his interview, highlighting the importance of Spread Creek for his family’s way of life as a historic dude ranch as well as for the conservation of native cutthroat trout, we were joined by his son Tote (president of the Jackson Hole TU chapter) and granddaughter Jana. We bounced up the road to the project site and tagged along as three generations of Turners fished Spread Creek, John mostly offering

ABOVE: The original Spread Creek Dam was removed in 2010 thanks to a huge partnership effort. BELOW: A new fishscreen has been installed helping to ensure that cutthroat trout and their offspring will have a chance to make it back to the Snake River rather than getting stuck in the Spread Creek irrigation system. Photo below by Sawyer Finley
THE TROUT TALE 6 FALL 2022 RESTORE
See SPREAD CREEK on page 7

alternating words of encouragement and instruction to Jana while Tote helped her land and release the fish she caught. I’ve known folks from the Turner family for over a decade now – John’s daughter, Kathryn, is my son’s godmother – so I allowed myself to delight in the timeless joy of a family fishing together for trout in a cool stream on a hot summer day, and forgot about the emails and other to-dos waiting for me back at the office. I was starting to see the big picture on Spread Creek, beyond the shot list for the film.

The next morning, we headed deep into the headwaters of Spread Creek to meet Dr. RobertAl-Chokhachy of the US Geological Survey – country I had only seen on the map but had never taken the time to explore, despite having been working on the project since I started at TU in 2016. With no reception deep in the backcountry, we had the kind of plan formed from the days before cell phones. We were to meet at a pinned location on a map, at a set time in the wee hours of the morning for best light.

“What happens if we’re late?” “You’ll find us, or we’ll find you.” We were, and they did. We found Robert and his team working at a breakneck pace that showed their true colors as part fish biologists, part elite mountain athletes. Robert has been studying fish, temperatures and flow in Spread Creek for well over a decade, seeking answers about the importance of migratory life histories and climate resiliency to cutthroat trout populations, and I knew he would be able to speak to the conservation importance of the project. But I wasn’t prepared for what filming Robert in action would really look like. It involved me and Josh chasing him and his crew up Leidy Creek, a deeply willowed, small stream likely infested with bears (the grizzly kind), as they sampled 100-meter sections of stream at set intervals, intending to cover miles with

their electrofishing equipment before the day was done (provided we did not get in their way). When we finally got Robert to stay in one spot for a few moments to ask him the interview questions, his answers made an impression on me. To hear him talk with such clarity, passion and knowledge about the benefits of our fish passage project to the Spread Creek and Snake River watersheds, and the importance of migratory corridors to cutthroat, especially in low water years, really drove home the timeliness and relevance of the project. He spoke excitedly about a larger, 17-plus inch cutthroat he had seen the previous day that had likely come up from the Snake River (admittedly, there’s nothing cooler than seeing big fish in small water). The collective “we” had helped make that happen when the Spread Creek dam was removed in 2010 through a big partnership effort, and now through the project’s current, second phase, we would ensure that its offspring would have a chance to make it back to the Snake River rather than getting stuck in the Spread Creek irrigation system. I could feel the storytelling part of the film start to take shape.

The filming days ended up being some of my favorite of the season. Per Josh’s instruction, I was mandated to go fishing twice with friends at a not-so-secret, beautiful spot in upper Spread Creek where the creek meanders idyllically through the willows, to get some fishing footage. We interviewed Todd Stiles, District Ranger for the Bridger-Teton National Forest (another “one-take wonder”), who spoke compellingly about the importance of partnerships, and Simeon Caskey, Physical Science Branch Chief for Grand Teton National Park, who walked us through the nuts and bolts of the current phase of the project. We ate out for the first time since COVID (burgers, outdoors, at the Dornan’s Chuckwagon Grill).And in the fall, we captured footage of what we hoped to be the final fish rescue on Spread Creek

From dam removals, habitat improvements, irrigation infrastructure improvements and fish screens, this headwater is on the radar for Trout Unlimited and our partners working to improve habitat for Snake River cutthroat trout. CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE INCREDIBLE VIDEO ON THE SPREAD CREEK PROJECT The Turners from left to right: Tote, Jana and John
FALL 2022 7 THE TROUT TALE
SPREAD CREEK from page 6
page 8

(because after the new fish screen is installed, fish will no longer be trapped and in need of rescue out of the irrigation ditches), with a number of partners and volunteers, and Diana Miller from Wyoming Game and Fish Department underscored the uniqueness of our native Snake River cutthroat trout fishery compared with other cutthroat trout populations in the lower 48.

Each interview and conversation brought me closer to the heart of the project and what it means to me, to TU, and to the Spread Creek fishery – giving me a renewed sense of purpose for its home stretch.And there are lots of things that didn’t make it into the film, that are essential to how a big project like this gets completed. Stakeholder meetings, countless grant proposals, partner agreements, site visits, rock pile sourcing, pandemic supply chain woes, and funders from all walks of life coming through in spades. My only regret is not having been able to feature even more people and truly recognize all those involved that have made this project possible.

And yet, the film is over 10 minutes long. “What happened to

your five-minute rule?,”

I asked Josh. “Dude… there was too much good stuff.” We hope you enjoy the film.At the end of the day, it’s a story about a wild, native cutthroat trout, adapted over the millenia to some of the most beautiful, rugged and ecologically intact country in the lower 48 (a Priority Water through TU’s new Strategic Plan). It needs connectivity to cold, clean water to persist into an uncertain and warming future, and for that, it needs people to care, and projects like Spread Creek. It’s also a story about the strength of partners pulling together in the same direction, opportunities afforded by addressing infrastructure needs and fisheries resources at the same time, and the people behind the scenes that help make it all happen – for the sake of the resource, for the fish, and for future generations of their family. For those that came here looking for more cool fish shots –sorry that my angling skills did not produce. The good news is, over 99 percent of the Spread Creek watershed is on public land.

Go find that 17-incher deep in the high country, snap a photo, and drop us a line.

SPREAD CREEK

THROUGH THE CAMERA LENS

SPREAD CREEK from page 7

Conversations: Q&A

Meet Hillary Walrath — Trout Unlimited staffer, wife, mom, accomplished angler, hunter and outdoorswoman, drift boat and raft driver, and longtime Trout Unlimited member, advocate and volunteer to name just a few.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Each quarter, we’ll seek out and sit down with a Trout Unlimited member, volunteer, staff member, conservation partner or friend to have a casual conversation about them and the outdoors. For our Fall “Trout Tale” newsletter, we’re delighted to talk with a true friend of Trout Unlimited and Trout Unlimited employee — Hillary Walrath from Green River, Wyoming. Below, you’ll find questions from Wyoming Trout Unlimited (WYTU) and Hillary’s responses following her initials “HW.” — Mike Jensen

Hillary, by way of oduction to those folks that might not know you, tell us about yourself, where you grew up, and the influence your family had on you?

When were you drawn to the outdoors?

HW: I knew at a very early age that I wanted to work around water and wildlife. Like most young kids, that dream originally started out wishing to be a marine biologist. As I got older, that morphed into focusing on the rivers and mountains that I called home. I grew up at a small US Forest Service (USFS) ranger station in northern Idaho, just across the Montana border over Lolo Pass. My mother worked full-time for the USFS and my father worked seasonally at a fire lookout tower. My childhood included the Lochsa River in my backyard (literally), hunting during the fall, attending school at a one-room schoolhouse during long, snowy winters and summers at the lookout.

We moved to Sheridan, Wyoming when I started high school. I lived and worked throughout Wyoming, and had a few short stints in Montana and Utah. Obviously, growing up immersed in the outdoors had an impact on my life trajectory. My parents lived to hunt, fish and hike and my brother and I always went with them. There really wasn’t a moment I started to be drawn towards the outdoors, they’ve always been a part of me.

WYTU: Where did you meet your husband, Nick? Can you give us an idea of what a typical date would look like when you first started dating Nick?

HW: Nick and I met one summer when I was home from college. We were both fisheries technicians for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in Sheridan. Not many couples can say they

bonded while picking fish out of gill nets — but we did! On our first date, he taught me how to fly-fish. A few dates after, we went to a Jalan Crossland concert in Buffalo and he ended up playing for our wedding three years later.

WYTU: Tell us about when you first started working for Trout Unlimited. What is your position title and job duties?

HW: I was hired by Trout Unlimited in 2013 as the Salinity Control Coordinator for the Henry’s Fork of the Green River (longest title ever, right?). It is a cooperative position with the NRCS and my focus area is the Henry’s Fork of the Green River in Sweetwater and Uinta counties. I work with landowners and other partners on private, federal and state lands to improve cold-water fisheries habitat and help the Natural Resource Conservation District administer their Salinity Control program. My job duties vary with every project, but usually I am responsible for initial talks with partners on a project, fundraising and grant writing, hiring engineers and construction contractors, overseeing project construction, invoicing and monitoring once a project is complete. I have also been involved with projects in the Upper Green River for Colorado River drought management.

WYTU: What’s your favorite thing about working for Trout Unlimited.

HW: I wear a lot of different hats with this job, and one of my favorites is the community involvement part. I work a lot with our local Seedskadee Chapter of Trout Unlimited volunteers on various habitat and community engagement projects, such as our annual women’s fly-fishing float trip on the Seedskadee

FALL 2022 9 THE TROUT TALE
See CONVERSATIONS on page 10

National Wildlife Refuge. I am also involved with several youth education programs around the county where I get to teach kids about rivers and the critters that live in them. I have done fish-tracking studies with the McKinnon Elementary School where the kids get to “Adopt-A-Trout” and follow their trout’s movement and have river ecology lessons throughout the year. Every project is unique and has its own challenges, but that’s one of the things I love the most about this job.

WYTU: Tell us about your incredible family, including the pets and your two, “fast-paced” daughters. What do they enjoy most about being in the great outdoors?

HW: We have two daughters that keep us busy and humble. Aven is 8 and Susie is 5 years old. They, along with our two dogs, two guinea pigs, seven ducks, and various fish, make up our little menagerie that we just try to keep alive some days. Our girls have been tagging along fishing and hunting since they were born. Even though most days start with grumbling about it, they usually end up dirty and happy by the end of them. Aven has really started to enjoy fishing this year. On a recent trip in the Wind River Range, she proclaimed she would catch a fish on her first cast and then proceeded to do exactly that. Susie also recently caught her first fish on her own on a fly rod and her screams of joy could be heard miles away. They enjoy using their imaginations and exploring wherever we are and especially love tent camping on a starry night.

WYTU: I’m going to put you on the spot. You’ve been involved with Trout Unlimited for a long time serving in volunteer positions as well as working for the organization. What is your favorite thing about the organization?

HW: We get work done — together. We come together to find solutions to complicated problems and work hard to get those solutions on the ground. So many organizations talk the talk, but we put it into action. And we do it by having people locally involved, working on the issues for the resources they love. That amount of passion and heart is irreplaceable and has such an enormous impact on what we can accomplish. That is what really separates Trout Unlimited from the rest and why I love working with this amazing group.

WYTU: What do you see as the biggest challenge for Trout Unlimited in Wyoming moving forward?

HW: Pressures on the rivers that sustain us in Wyoming are only going to increase. We are going to have to get creative and double down on our efforts to promote resiliency in these systems so our future generations can enjoy these resources. We also need to do what TU does best and come together to find the balanced solutions.

WYTU: Years ago, you organized a women’s Trout Unlimited fishing event on the Green River in southwest Wyoming. Tell us about the success of the event and why you started it? How many years has the event been taking place?

HW: When I first started fly-fishing, I could go an entire day on the river and not see another woman. While this was nothing out of the normal for a gal who went into a fisheries career, I noticed a theme when I asked ladies why they didn’t fly fish. Their answers usually revolved around being intimidated by it and not wanting their significant other to be their teacher. But almost every single one wanted to learn. I was still pretty new to it and didn’t consider myself much of a teacher, but I knew how to organize and the right people to ask for help — our amazing TU volunteers. So, with the help of them and our awesome Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge Manager, Tom Koerner, we planned the first women’s float in September 2014. We have done it every year since, with the exception of 2020 and 2021, due to COVID-19.

The event has always been a fun one that our volunteers look forward to every year. The ladies are always excited to get on the water, take some time for themselves, learn something new and enjoy our beautiful river. Often they will sign up with a friend, which helps with the initial intimidation, and they are paired up with a volunteer guide for a full day of fishing. The volunteers are the reason it has been so successful and, because of their dedication, we have introduced over 150 ladies to fly-fishing and TU. Several of these ladies now serve as board members for our local chapters.

WYTU: Who taught you how to drive (row) a drift boat and raft?

HW: My ever-so-patient husband (and we’re still married!).

WYTU: Here’s another pointed question. What’s your favorite outdoor activity and why?

HW: Well, that’s not an easy one to answer! I really do love fishing, especially now that our girls are getting into it. It’s a unique activity in that you can’t focus much on anything else and you just never know what the next cast will bring. It’s something we can do as a family

THE TROUT TALE 10 FALL 2022
CONVERSATIONS from page 9 See CONVERSATIONS on page 11

that allows us to explore and experience these beautiful places together

WYTU: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

HW: I love catching up with friends, playing games and getting lost in a good book. If I can do all of this while camping, life is perfect.

WYTU: Do you have a favorite fish or outdoor story you could share with us?

HW: Our girls have been on a drift boat since they were infants (which was the easy stage for fishing). While they are interested in fishing occasionally, they also need other activities to keep them happy for 8+ hours on the river. As a result, we usually look like a circus rolling down the river with snacks, kids, dogs, toys and blankets covering every square inch of the boat. Nick and I often think it is a good day if we manage to actually land

a fish while simultaneously trying not to step on any of the previously mentioned items. We have become adept at rowing one handed while using the other hand to retrieve the 100th snack of the day from the cooler. We have accepted that we aren’t going to catch the most fish at this stage of life and that is ok. I’ll take an awesome blanket fort in the front of the boat with giggling girls underneath any day.

WYOMING NEWS NOTES:

Trout in the Classroom to add three schools to Wyoming program

The Wyoming Council of Trout Unlimited (WYTU) is pleased to announce that the Trout in the Classroom (TIC) program will expand by adding the curriculum to three new schools for the 2022-2023 school year.

The schools selected for the coming year are Lingle - Ft. Laramie High School, St.Anthony’s Tri-Parish Catholic School in Casper and Southeast School in Yoder.

Those three schools will join Torrington Middle School, Expedition Academy in Green River and Whiting High School in Laramie, bringing the total schools participating in the program to six.

The executive committee for the Wyoming Council of Trout Unlimited received several inquiries from schools around the Cowboy State over the past few months.With increased interest in the program, the executive committee has determined that the TIC program be available to 5th, 6th and 7th grade students as well as, at this time, alternative high school students.

This environmental education program and curriculum allows students to raise trout from eggs to juveniles, thanks to our program partner, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

Students will also monitor tank water quality, engage in

stream habitat study, learn to appreciate water resources, begin to foster a conservation ethic and stewardship, as well as grow to understand ecosystems to name a few.

7th Annual TU women’s float a huge success once again

After being canceled for the past two years (thanks to COVID-19), the annual Trout Unlimited women’s float, held on Saturday, Sept. 10, got back on track and was yet another great event for those who participated.The event was held on the Green River and Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge in southwest Wyoming.

Event organizer Hillary Walrath, along with a great group of volunteers, put this event on to help women have an opportunity to learn how to fly fish. And those who have participated in this event have done just that.

“This annual event has always been a fun one that both the ladies and our volunteers look forward to,” said Hillary.

She noted that an event like this allows them to take some time for themselves, enjoy the beautiful and incredible Green River and learn something new. Several ladies caught fish on a beautiful day on the Green. Make sure to check out the cover of this newsletter — it features Katrina Marcos who participated in the event and caught a big, beautiful cutthroat trout.

A casting clinic was also offered on Friday evening. Several individuals attended and battled windy conditions

Sonja Hunt and friends
FALL 2022 11 THE TROUT TALE
CONVERSATIONS from page 10
See NEWS BRIEFS on page 12

to learn how to cast a fly rod before floating the river on Saturday.

Hillary noted that this event has introduced over 150 ladies to the sport of fly fishing. Several of those ladies are now serving as board members or officers for several local TU chapters.

NOTES:

Gowdy chapter leadership. Mark your calendars now as the chapter will be holding its first chapter meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m.The meeting will take place upstairs at Uncle Charlie’s — located at 6001 Yellowstone Road in Cheyenne.

For more information on the Curt Gowdy chapter, email chapter president Chris Brown at trtbum@gmail.com.

The inactive Laramie Valley Chapter held an organizational meeting on July 27, where they were able to make nominations and elect new officers and board members to begin the process of revitalizing the chapter.

Kevin Hart was elected as chapter president; Bill Schepeler was elected as chapter vice president; Allison Baas was elected as chapter secretary; and Greg Rose was elected chapter treasurer.

Curt Gowdy and Laramie Valley chapters revitalized with new leadership

It’s been a busy few months for the Curt Gowdy and Laramie Valley Trout Unlimited (TU) chapters as they have both worked extremely hard to get new leadership in place at both chapters and get things back up and running.

The Cheyenne and Laramie chapters recently conducted appropriate meetings and elected new officers and board members as per Trout Unlimited’s protocol.

In Cheyenne, Chris Brown was elected as chapter president; Dan Moede was elected as vice president; Craig Boal was elected as secretary and Bob Mason was elected as treasurer. Chapter member Jodi Jensen will serve as interim financial reviewer for the chapter. Congratulations to the newly elected Curt

ABOVE LEFT: Chris Brown; ABOVE RIGHT: Dan Moede;

MIDDLE LEFT: Craig Boal; MIDDLE RIGHT: Bob Mason;

BOTTOM LEFT: Jodi Jensen

Jay Gatlin and Nathan Baas were elected as at-large board members. Jay will also serve as chapter financial reviewer. Bobby Compton has been nominated for the final at-large board position and he will be elected to fill that position at the next chapter board meeting.

Congratulations to the newly-elected Laramie Valley TU Chapter leadership! Chapter members are urged to watch their email for upcoming information regarding the chapter’s first meeting to be held in October.

For more information, email Kevin Hart at laramievalleytu@gmail.com.

Husband/wife team elected to lead Upper Bear River chapter

The Upper Bear River TU Chapter in Evanston has elected Rick and Becky Slagowski (a.k.a. BecSkis) as the new president and vice president.The two, along with two their two dogs Augie and Brookie, spent a beautiful day on the Green River in July. Brookie couldn’t be bothered for a photo op while shading under the umbrella.

Casting clinic participants and instructors Right: Emily Forbes with a great brown trout. Photo by Dan Parsons. ABOVE LEFT: Kevin Hart; ABOVE MIDDLE: Allison Baas; ABOVE RIGHT: Bobby Compton; ABOVE LEFT TO RIGHT: Nathan Baas;Jay Gatlin; Bill Schepeler and Greg Rose
THE TROUT TALE 12 FALL 2022 WYOMING NEWS
Continued from Page 11
See WYOMING NEWS NOTES on page 15

Greater Little Mountain Coalition Field Trip: TROUT CREEK

OnAugust 9, members of the Greater Little Mountain Coalition joined the Wyoming Bureau of Land Management State office’s wildlife biologist and a few Sweetwater County commissioners for a day of fishing at Trout Creek in the Greater Little Mountain area.

In between moments of bliss brought about by catching Colorado Cutthroat Trout in a breathtaking landscape, the conversations surrounding the Rock Springs Resource Management Plan and the future of this special area were flowing.

A Greater Little Mountain Coalition (GLMC) Refresher

As many Wyoming residents and Trout Unlimited (TU) members are aware, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Rock Springs Field Office has been working to revise the Resource Management Plan (RMP) for over a decade now. Currently, this area is being managed under the 1997 Green River Resource Management plan.

Alot has changed since the 1990s, and a new plan is long overdue. The new plan will determine how the BLM manages 3.6 million acres of land and 3.5 million sub-surface mineral acres, and includes the management of the Greater Little Mountain (GLM)Area, a landscape cherished by so many here in Wyoming. Trout Unlimited has been working in partnership with private landowners, land managers and other key stakeholders on projects in the GLM area for the last thirty years to restore and protect the native Colorado River Cutthroat trout that call this area home.ÊÊ

While every member of the GLMC wishes there were more definitive and exciting updates to share, news on the draft RMP’s release date is still nebulous at best. The release of the draft will be the first step in a public process of land-use planning that will determine how the landscape is set up to be managed. Everyone who shares special ties to this area, or who wants to see populations of Colorado River Cutthroat protected, will need to weigh in to ensure that the BLM selects the plan that best represents the needs and interests of the sportsman and conservation community.ÊÊ

Continued Partnership is the Path Forward

Outgoing Sweetwater County Commissioner Lauren Schoenfeld experienced a special moment that many can relate to during this field trip. She caught her first Colorado Cutthroat on a fly rod. The joy that comes from these shared experiences is what drives the GLMC’s work forward. The coalition has dedicated the last decade to offering place-based experiences to stakeholders and developing a common-sense proposal that all of Wyoming can get behind for the management of this area.

From ECOFlight with the governor’s staff showcasing an aerial view of the landscape, to intimate on-the-ground

experiences like fishing at Trout Creek, ensuring that decision makers can see the ways in which this region is critical for sportsmen and residents of Wyoming in person is worth prioritizing.ÊÊ

“The Greater Little Mountain Coalition has dedicated over a decade to working toward a collaborative approach to management recommendations for this special place. Being a Sweetwater County Commissioner over the past several years, I have seen firsthand their commitment to finding creative solutions that work for all Wyoming residents,” said Lauren Schoenfeld, Sweetwater County Commissioner. “We must continue to work together to protect and appropriately utilize this gem within Sweetwater County.”

Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for updates from the Greater Little Mountain Coalition and Trout Unlimited Wyoming.As soon as the draft is released, there will be opportunities for you to engage in this important public process to protect the Greater Little Mountain area.Ê

ABOVE: Pictured left to right are Chris Keefe, wildlife program lead, Wyoming BLM state office; Sam Lockwood, habitat coordinator, Wyoming Wildlife Federation; Lauren Schoenfeld, Sweetwater County commissioner; Jeffrey Smith, Sweetwater County commissioner; and Steve Martin, president, Bowhunters of Wyoming. Trout Unlimited photos by Amelia Howe
FALL 2022 13 THE TROUT TALE
CLICK HERE TO VIEW INCREDIBLE AERIAL PHOTOS OF THE GREATER LITTLE MOUNTAIN AREA

CODY, WYOMING

Backyard lakes

Nestled in the foothills just north of Cody, Newton Lakes are near and dear to the hearts of Cody residents as well as for visitors from near and far. In addition to popular fishing lakes, paddle boarders, kayakers, mountain bikers and hikers enjoy the natural setting with theAbsaroka Range serving as a backdrop. However, all was not well at the lakes. Large trout up to 10 pounds that once cruised East Newton Lake, managed as a catch and release trophy trout lake, were a distant memory. Just over the ridge to the west, invasive goldfish were introduced into West Newton Lake, managed as a put and take fishery. Located within a closed basin, water management is complicated due to variable inflow from a diversion channel from Trail Creek, loss of water through sinkholes in West Newton, and the need for supplemental water to sustain East Newton.

When the East Yellowstone Trout Unlimited (EYTU) Chapter was approached by the CodyAnglers group in early 2020 to discuss the challenges facing these lakes, EYTU was all in.As the lakes are managed by Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) under a cooperative agreement with the Bureau of Reclamation, we invited local Game and Fish staff to join the “Newton Lake Workgroup” (NLWG). Our goal was to work together to improve the fisheries and

recreation opportunities at the lakes.

The NLWG faced an immediate challenge as high water years in 2019 and 2020 resulted in a steady increase in lake water levels, to the point where water was flowing from West Newton into East Newton. While the high water levels were positive in terms of increased fish habitat and improved nutrient levels in East Newton, the connectivity provided an avenue for invasive goldfish to enter into East Newton. Furthermore, outhouses, access roads and parking lots were flooded as lake levels rose.

As the water continued to rise, immediate action was required. Agravel infiltration berm was installed in the connecting channel to allow for water movement between the lakes while preventing goldfish establishment in East Newton. Outhouses were removed and parking lots and boat access ramps were shifted due to the flooding. The NLWG assisted with development of a new parking lot outside the flood zone including construction of a buck and pole fence and new trail to the lake. The WGFD plans to install a new permanent outhouse this year if funding is available.

The NLWG developed a monitoring

Spending a peaceful morning fishing on East Newton Lake in June of 2022 One of the flooded picnic tables at West Newton Lake in June of 2020 RIGHT: NLWG members construct buck and pole fencing around the new parking lot.
THE TROUT TALE 14 FALL 2022
See BACKYARD LAKES on page 15

program to monitor lake levels, water inflows and outflows, water temperatures, water productivity and recreation use. Monitoring continues to this day as we learn more about the complex water dynamics at the lakes. This spring we conducted a dye test in one of the West Newton sinkholes.Anticipating the dye to show up in the springs below the lake, after two days of observations, we never did see the dye!

Regional Fisheries Manager Sam Hochhalter is impressed with the accomplishments of the NLWG.

“I have been very pleased with the group’s commitment and follow-through on the many different elements at play with these lakes,” said Hochhalter.Ê“The group has filled in data and knowledge gaps associated with inflows, outflow through the natural sinks, recreational access needs, and prevention measures associated with goldfish in West Newton.ÊThe working group members are all avid anglers and it’s remarkable that they take time away from fishing and their day jobs to help with monitoring and on the ground improvements for the benefit of everyone.”

To help grow larger fish in East Newton, fisheries biologists decided to reduce stocking levels.As lake productivity improved in East Newton due to higher water levels, the WGFD returned to stocking 500 rainbows annually. In addition, 250 brown trout are stocked on odd years and 250 tiger trout are stocked on even years. The stocking strategy of less fish appears to be paying off with increased growth rates and bigger fish.

The NLWG has accomplished a lot over the last two years, but more work remains. Do we take action to manage sinkholes in West Newton to reduce water loss? If we plug the sinkholes, what happens if there is another high-water year? Do the sinkholes pose a risk of undermining the nearby Heart Mountain irrigation canal? How do we maintain productive waters in East Newton that help grow large trout? Can we figure out a way to economically pump more productive water from West into East Newton?

One fact we have learned is that

WYOMING NEWS NOTES from page 12

Talented Wyoming Trout Unlimited staff gather in Pinedale

Trout Unlimited staff members gathered in Pinedale in early August to discuss various projects they are working on in their respective departments and areas.The group discussed ways to potentially better collaborate or breakdown silos as a team.

the NLWG model is an effective way to address these management opportunities and challenges.

“That working group has been fantastic,” said Brad Sorensen, habitat and access supervisor. “They are dedicated and gathering some fantastic data the WGFD doesn’t have the resources to do. They have been instrumental in constructing the parking lot and the fencing and have been pretty aggressive brainstorming how to manage the water in those lakes.”

Next time you fish Newton Lakes, if you happen to catch one of the large trout in East Newton, you can in part thank the NLWG. However, if you don’t happen to hook up, you can still thank the NLWG for helping maintain and provide great recreation opportunities in Cody’s backyard.

Pictured left to right: Angler’s Conservation Project Wyoming Field Manager Amelia Howe; NW Wyoming Program Director Leslie Steen; Salinity Control Coordinator for the Henry’s Fork of the Green River Hillary Walrath; Salt River Watershed Manager Tanner Belknap; Green River Project Manager Nick Walrath and Wyoming Water and Habitat Program Director Cory Toye.

ABOVE: NLWG chair Larry Timchak installs temperature loggers in East Newton Lake in July 2021. Photo courtesy Mark Davis, Powell Tribune. LEFT: Berms were constructed between East and West Newton lakes to prevent goldfish establishment in East Newton Lake. WYTU Photos courtesy of Larry Timchak
FALL 2022 15 THE TROUT TALE
BACKYARD LAKES from page 14

A worthwhile pursuit

The term “freshwater conservation” is often thrown around in the academic world to represent something outside the sphere of strict hypothesis-driven research questions. As if acknowledging that conservation is occurring without crediting the labor of love that it really is. To some degree, separation may have some value — dividing the labor between research and on-the-ground conservation allows people to specialize in a particular field or area. As a current master’s student in stream ecol ogy, I am certainly guilty of using “conservation” without much thought about the hardworking folks who are enacting change on the landscape. Over the course of this past summer working with Trout Unlimited (TU) as the Snake River headwaters conservation intern, my view and understanding of the sheer effort it takes to conserve our freshwater fisheries as been put into sharp focus.

Trout Unlimited had an early impact on my life and interests. In 2011, I was lucky enough to attend a TU camp in the small town of De Beque, on the west slope of Colorado. Here, I got my first taste of the finer points of fly fishing, aquatic entomology, fly tying, etc., and intro duced to broader topics like native species conservation, water use in the West, and habitat restoration. I grew up in and around rivers, catch ing crawdads and fishing lakes and streams, but looking back this was the first instance in which a deep connection with rivers and the organisms that inhabit freshwater ecosystems was made explicit. I was also exposed to the way in which caring for freshwater systems can inexplicably link people to one another. I certainly didn’t recognize that at the age of 15 and was way too busy throwing rocks into the river and catching bugs, but in ret rospect that experience had a lasting impact on me.

My love for rivers and the fish and bugs that inhabit them led me to a master’s program at Idaho State University researching the com munity of organisms that support trout and other cold water fishes. Spending time studying rivers in Idaho has, by no coincidence, allowed plenty of time fly fishing on some fabled trout streams and rivers of the West. It’s also exposed me to the communities in the western United States that rely on freshwater systems in one way or another. Much like public lands, our freshwater systems are resources of many uses. As such, the social relationships that underlie the management and conser vation of these systems are incredibly complex. Over the course of this

summer, I experienced first-hand the role that TU plays in creating, strengthening and leveraging that web of human connection surround ing freshwater ecosystems to care for and recover rivers and streams for future generations.

Partnerships and stakeholder relationships are paramount to the success of any conservation organization. In northwest Wyoming, there are many government agencies, private entities, and NGOs that have a stake in the conservation of rivers and streams. While their mission statements may not be the same, most of these stakeholders have similar goals: Fix what is damaged, and conserve what’s intact. The difficult task, for the most part, is to keep open channels of communication collaboration among interest groups. Perhaps the most significant takeaway from my summer has been the effort, tact, and finesse it takes to maintain strong relationships among stakeholders. Working under TU’s Northwest Wyoming Program Director Leslie Steen, I’ve seen the lengths that she goes to make sure stakeholders protect their private interests, and relationships between TU and state and federal agencies are strong. To me, this is the effort behind conservation that isn’t in the public eye, and surely doesn’t get the credit it deserves.

People inherently care about the places they occupy, and I’ve seen people show up for their places time and time again. From volunteer days planting willows and picking up trash along river, to checking water temperatures, people want to preserve the places and experiences they know and love. I seek out rivers and fish because I feel a connection to the land, and to everyone who has ever cared about or fished or worked to conserve those resources. Those type of connections are embedded every time we interact with the world around us, and to conserve those resources maintains the ways in which we connect with one another. And to this end, the hours and effort to conserve coldwater fisheries will always be a worthwhile pursuit.

ABOVE LEFT: Sawyer on the oars on the upper Snake River.

TOP RIGHT: Backpack electrofishing tributaries of the Little Greys River with Wyoming Game and Fish personnel.

LOWER LEFT: Sawyer waiting to net a Snake River Cutthroat on a TU donor trip.

LOWER RIGHT: Installing grazing exclosures in the upper Hoback River.

Photos courtesy of Sawyer Finley

THE TROUT TALE 16 FALL 2022
PROTECT

Angling Destinations

Clark Smyth Sheridan, WY 82801 (307) 672-6894 clark@anglingdestinations.com www.anglingdestinations.com

Arrow Land and Water, LLC

Chad Espenscheid Big Piney, WY 83113 (307) 231-2389 chadespen@gmail.com

Dunoir Fishing Adventures, LLC

Jeramie Prine Lander, WY 82520 (307) 349-3331 jlprine@gmail.com www.dunoirfishing.com

Fish the Fly Guide Service & Travel

Jason Balogh Jackson, WY 83001 (307) 690-1139 jb@fishthefly.com www.fishthefly.com

Fly Shop of the Bighorns

Clark Smyth Sheridan, WY 82001 (307) 672-5866 clark@anglingdestinations.com www.sheridanflyfhishing.com

Frog Creek Partners

Brian Deurloo

Casper, WY 82601 (307) 797-7720 brian@frogcreek.partners www.frogcreek.partners

Frontier Brewing Company & Tap Room

Shawn Houck Casper, WY 82601 (307) 337-1000 frontierbrewingcompany.com

Grand Teton Fly Fishing

Scott Smith and Mark Fuller Jackson, WY 83002 (307) 690-4347 ssflyfish@rocketmail.com markwfuller@gmail.com www.grandtetonflyfishing.com

Guild Outdoors

Adam Guild Afton, WY 83110 (307) 799-6409 guildadam@yahoo.com www.guildranchwyoming.com

North Platte Lodge

Erik Aune Alcova, WY 82601 (307) 237-1182 info@northplattelodge.com www.northplattelodge.com

The Red Rock Ranch

Steven Stimmel Kelly, WY 83011 (307) 733-6288 info@theredrockranch.com www.theredrockranch.com

O GL

Two Rivers Fishing Company

Josh Hattan Pinedale, WY 82941 (307) 367-4131 info@tworiversfishing.com www.tworiversfishing.com

Ty Outdoors

Ty Hallock Casper, WY 82609 (307) 315-8287 ty@tyoutdoors.com www.tyoutdoors.com

Rock Creek Anglers

 West Laramie Fly Store

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Jackson Hole Fly Company

Greg Epstein Jackson, WY 83001 (800) 346-4339 support@jacksonholeflycompany.com www.jacksonholeflycompany.com

JD High Country Outfitters

Jackson, Wyoming 83001 (307) 733-7210 scott@jdhcoutfitters.com www.highcountryflies.com

Live Water Properties

Macye Maher Jackson, WY 83002 (866) 734-6100 macye@livewaterproperties.com www.livewaterproperties.com

Maven

Brendon Weaver Lander, WY 82501 (800) 307-1109 customerservice@mavenbuilt.com www.mavenbuilt.com

North Fork Anglers

Tim Wade Cody, WY  82414 (307) 527-7274 tw123r4w@yahoo.com www.northforkanglers.com

Clark Smyth  Sheridan, WY 82801 (307) 684-7304 (888) 945-3876 clark@anglingdestinations.com www.rockcreekanglers.com

Sunlight Sports

Wes and Melissa Allen Cody, WY 82414 (307) 587-9517 info@sunlightsports.com www.sunlightsports.com

Sweetwater Fishing

Expeditions, LLC

George H. Hunker III Lander, WY 82520 (307) 332-3986 george@sweetwaterfishing.com www.sweetwaterfishing.com

Thin Air Angler

O G G

Bob Reece Cheyenne, WY 82009 (307) 256-2741 coach.bobreece@gmail.com www.thinairangler.com

TroutHut Net-Worx

Mike Jensen Cheyenne, WY 82009 (307) 421-3188 trouthut@gmail.com

Turpin Meadow Ranch

Ron Stiffler Moran, WY 83013 (307) 543-2000 gm@turpinmeadowranch.com www.turpinmeadowranch.com

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Brandon Specht Laramie, WY 82070 (307) 745-5425 flystore@flystore.net www.flystore.net

Wyoming Newspapers, Inc.

Mark Tesoro (307) 789-6560 Evanston, WY 82930 mtesoro@uintacountyherald.com

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GOLD LEVEL

MEMBER:

Wind River Outdoor Company

Ron Hansen

Lander, WY 82520

Phone: (307) 332-4402 e-mail: rhansen@wyoming.com website: www.windriveroutdoorcompany.com

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Trout Unlimited Business members are TU ambassadors in protecting, restoring, reconnecting and sustaining North America’s coldwater fisheries. To become a TU Business member, contact Wyoming’s own Walt Gasson at 307.630.7398 or e-mail him at walt.gasson@tu.org.

GLOutfitters Guides Lodges

FALL 2022 17 THE TROUT TALE 
CHAPTER SPOTLIGHT Little Big Horn ChapterSUPPORT YOUR TROUT UNLIMITED BUSINESSES IN WYOMING
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COMING SOON: Watch for new WYTU gear featuring the new Wyoming Trout Unlimited “Bucking Fish” logo! O G G
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