Fly Fishing Conservation

I’ve been to Yellowstone National Park enough times over the years to lose count of how many times I’ve been there. I’ll just go ahead and consider that a good high numbers issue rather than a sign of age.

Typically when I show up, I stay in West Yellowstone, grab my park fishing licence and head straight to my comfort zones within the park.

I’ll drive up to the Yellowstone River, stalk the banks, get irritated because there’s no way I can wade out to where I want and usually head over to the Lamar or a few of the other well known fly fishing rivers to cast my day away.

However, after my recent visit to Yellowstone, I’ve realized how narrow and shortsighted my visits have been over the years. I had fly fishing blinders on…

The Trout Unlimited Blogger Tour 2012 took my napkin sized experiences of Yellowstone, folded them up, tucked them in its pocket and delivered a 2.2 million acre perspective of what I’ve been (innocently/ignorantly) oblivious about all these years.

Specifically when it comes to Yellowstone Lake and Lake trout.

I took my first fly fishing trip to Yellowstone back in the 1990′s. At that time, I had no idea what I was doing in regards to fly fishing and  never had a problem catching big beautiful Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout. Lots of them. On this trip, I caught small Yellowstone cutthroats, rainbows, hybrids and brown trout.

With the help of nets, I also caught and killed a whole lot of Lake trout. A Lot of Lake trout. Killed. And I didn’t even feel bad about it.

Back in the 1990′s I can remember seeing the signs that said if you caught a Lake trout you must not return it to the water. At that point I thought, not an issue. I don’t lake fish, especially not on a 136 square miles of surface area kind of lake. Not really my kind of concern.

But during this trip, it finally sunk in why it is my problem. Those Lake trout that I’ll never catch on a fly rod.

I learned that the illegally introduced Lake trout to Yellowstone Lake have been devastating to the ecosystem within the park and the biggest victim, the Yellowstone Cutthroat trout, is paying a serious price for the sins of our Fathers.

A number I had to wrap my mind around was this:

In the 1970′s there was over 4 million Yellowstone Cutthroat trout in Yellowstone Lake.

Today there is around 400,000…

Last year efforts removed and killed 220,000 Lake trout

During the trip I voiced this question to no one in particular, “I wonder if the people who released Lake trout into Yellowstone Lake are sitting at home right now feeling the type of guilt a not yet caught murderer feels.” The consequences of their actions are immense and far reaching.

As bleak as it felt at times during the trip when facts and sheer numbers of Lake trout stacked up against the Yellowstone Cutthroats, I realized it wasn’t a lost cause.  They are not fighting a losing battle out there. I witnessed hard work, tenacity and current measures being taken by various groups to cease the damage column and add positive numbers to the recovery side of their efforts. Headway is being made as I type this.

Groups like Trout UnlimitedSimmsYellowstone Park Foundation , volunteers and others are not only funding recovery efforts, they are putting their backs into the project with the use of commercial fisherman and Park staff to drastically reduce the Lake trout numbers. You can read about the Native Fish Conservation Plan here to get an idea of ALL the measures they are taking.

I understand that it’s hard to rally around something that isn’t in our backyard. Yellowstone has been in my backyard for a lot of years and the significance of whats been going on has just now hit me square upside the head. I get it.

I also understand that this conservation effort doesn’t have a corporate bad guy to picket against or denounce so it will be harder to get people’s hackles up about it.

But it is important… if for no other reason than someone like Marc from The Perfect Drift. The trip out there was his first and several of us were beyond excited to show him Yellowstone in all her glory. I thought to myself too many times, “I wish Marc could have experienced and fly fished here when all the rivers were full of big fat Cutthroats.”

He deserved the best of Yellowstone. Everyone does.

So where does that leave us, the fisherman who enjoy the park or even the ones that have never been there? For one thing, we all have a voice and it doesn’t cost a penny to spread the word.

Visit Trout Unlimited or Yellowstone Park Foundation and see where you can help.

This option is right up most of our rivers…become a volunteer Fly Fishing Angler for the Park.

Lastly,
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Now you know.

Rebecca

They deserve our help considering ‘we’ are the ones that put them in danger…

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The following is a guest post available to all outdoor bloggers who have an interest in the Pebble Mine/Bristol Bay issue.
Please feel free to re-post it on your blog. 

(Passed along from the conservation section over on the OBN ~
Go check it out, copy it from here, copy it from there, but let’s spread the word)

Influential is right, so don’t forget to submit a form from the link near the bottom of post and show your support to those who are fighting for us all.

Thank You Everyone ~ Rebecca

Sportsmen fly to DC to tell president and congress to say no to Pebble Mine

Fly Fishing

Photo by B.O'Keefe

Starting Monday, April 16, more than 30 sportsmen from around the country are traveling to the nation’s capitol to let their elected officials and the president know that protecting Bristol Bay is a top priority for hunters and anglers.

This is an important week to show the folks who have the power to protect Bristol Bay that sportsmen are in this fight. We’ve got folks from Alaska, Montana, Michigan, Colorado, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Texas, Wisconsin, Washington, North Carolina, California, Missouri, New York, and Virginia representing this great country and the millions of people who want Bristol Bay to be protected and left just like it is today–pristine and productive.

recent report by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation shows that there are 34 million hunters and anglers in the U.S., and we’re a powerful constituency. Every year, we pump $76 billion into the economy in pursuit of our passion, through our spending on gear, licenses, gas, lodging, meals and more. All of that spending and activity directly supports 1.6 million jobs in this country.

We are also an influential group because 80 percent of sportsmen are likely voters – much higher than the national average. And, we also contribute the most money of any group toward government wildlife conservation programs. So, hopefully if we care about an issue and show our support, the decision makers will listen to what we have to say.

In just a few weeks, the EPA will be releasing a draft of its Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment. This huge scientific assessment will likely guide future decisions about large-scale mining and other industrial development in the Bristol Bay region. If they find that disposal of waste from the mine would adversely harm the surrounding clean waters or natural resources, the EPA can deny or place restrictions on a required dredge and fill permit. If warranted, we hope the Obama Administration would take that step to protect Bristol Bay.

You can support the fight for one of planet Earth’s finest and most productive fishing and hunting destinations by taking action today. Fill out this simple form that will send a letter to the President and your members of Congress asking them to protect Bristol Bay.  Let’s carry our sportsmen into D.C. with a lot of momentum.

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Henry's Fork ~ credit Idaho Statesman

On a political front, Idaho has had it’s fair share of embarrassing if not downright humiliating episodes in the last few years. Whether it’s toe tapping in the men’s bathroom (Craig) or joking about hunting our President (Rammell), we who live and dwell here have had to endure the disgrace of our politicians on more than one occasion.

It looks like we may be headed down the same path, again….. The news is swirling about Gov. Butch Otters proposed idea to dismantle our Parks and Recreation Department and in doing so risking our States most cherished park, Harrimans.  (Home of the famous Henry’s Fork)

Article Found here: Idaho Statesman ~ Harriman Deed puts Gov. Otters plan for parks at risk. (which can I mention, I think that’s a ridiculous headline via the Statesman. It should read, “Gov. Otter puts Harriman Park and Deed at Risk”)

Not only does Gov. Otters ploy risk the future of Harrimans State park (because the benefactors were smart enough to put conditions on their enormous gift) his plan continues on to put our State run Parks in the hands of his precious Department of Lands($$$). Every angle I view this ’proposel’ paints the potential decline of our State Parks, with Harriman being a straight loss to anglers, winter visitors and the economic stability of Eastern Idaho.

Just a side note. One I can’t help but mention….. Gov. Butch Otter, is first and foremost, a rancher, of the rancher, for the rancher……(of the private lands, range lands and $$$)

Tom Chandler posted an article about this situation on his website The Trout Underground, that I suggest others read. “Public Access to Harriman Ranch Stretch of the Henry’s Fork In Peril? (or, Time to Kick Political Butt & Leave the Name Taking For Later)” 

I live in Idaho and will do what I can to help, protest, kick political butt, preserve and protect something that is precious to all Idahoans, and the visitors to our state. I encourage all Idahoans to do the same.

I also think old Butch needs a bit of out of state snarl as well…….what say you……

Lets make it really easy thanks to commenter Bill ~
Visit this link and let ‘what say you’ be heard ~
Electronic Correspondence to Governor Otter Fast and Easy ~

Once you are done there….please visit this site to sign the petition~ Keep Idaho Department of Parks & Recreation

Rebecca

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