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Thursday, March 12, 2015

What a bag of dog shit.

Leave no trace. 

Does it apply to a bag of dog shit?

     It's absolutely true that dogs and dog owners start to resemble each other as they age. (I know, because I read it on the internet.) Yesterday Cheesman canyon gave me an excellent example of a woman who is starting to resemble her dogs droppings. 
     I've seen her before. She must have a travel routine that puts her and her yippy little dog in the Cheesman trail parking lot just as Fifi has to dump a load. Unless she can't read, this Forest Service Trail is clearly marked with the following rules:

     I'd just enjoyed a great, exhausting, humiliating, but invigorating day in this glorious canyon that I shared with a dozen other Colorado Troutbums and their friends. 

    All had meticulously keep the trail spotless. Yesterday, an insecure Hansel had left a trail of orange peel pieces along the trail, but I managed to scarf them up. (Hansel, there's no sub-rule that says bio-degradables are ok to leave behind. Next you'll be bringing down your compost.)

    But as I approached the parking lot, I found that FiFi's bag of dog shit had been left neatly along the trail for me just off the parking lot. 

     What could this mean? Is FiFi's owner, let's call her Babs (for Bag of Blue Shit), saying to me:
     "Well, John, I cleaned up after my dog. I've not thrown it into the vault toilet. I've put a little rock on it so that it doesn't blow away. Now I'm counting on you, John, to take it home with you since my car is much to nice to transport this little blue bag of dog shit." 
     I did bring it home. And I'd like to return it to you Babs. Some day, Babs, we will meet again. Better bring a big, big, blue bag because I've got an awful lot of shit to deliver to you about how you are treating the Colorado outdoors. You are a bag of dog shit.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Eagle Eyes on a Colorado Trout Bum

Fishing my favorite Colorado Canyon.

     What I love most about fly fishing is that something always happens. When you are outside near the water something unexpected always happens. 
     I returned to a spot I'd weakly fished a week earlier.  

Water temperature was 42-44 degrees both times. I'd convinced myself that I must have been fishing flies that were too big, so this time I kicked up some gravel and screen out a scud and a stonefly nymph. Both appeared to be size 16-18 just as I'd been fishing. 

Finally on a size 22 foam winged midge emerger I succeeded. 

I left the hole for a couple hours and moved up stream. A mature bald eagle had been cruising up and down the river all day. I'd seen him four times. On my way back I noticed another angler had just hooked up to a nice fish under the eyes of a bald eagle in the hole I had left.
You should be able to see the white dot of his head in a tall pine tree 4 trees in from the left.

Here's a youtube video. My apologies for not having a better camera along. I didn't expect the eagle.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Improving a natural 3,000 trout/mi stream to a hatchery put & take fishery.

I'm only guessing. You be the judge.

Is it a good idea to do "aquatic habitat" improvements on a stream that supports 3,000 fish per mile and has some of the most iconic feeding lies in the Rocky Mountains ?

     Tarryall Creek flows through the Pike National Forest close to the Lost Creek Wilderness area. Most of the stream flows through private property that has been preserved for fly fishing. This very fertile stream holds cutthroats, cutbows, rainbows, and brown trout self sustaining populations. South Park Fly Fishers, Rocky Mountain Angling Club, and a few private clubs hold leases on the creek. The elevation is about 9,500 to 10,500 feet and traffic along 2 lane Route 77 is limited, giving the fly caster a nice quiet experience. I actually saw a cougar chasing prey on 8/20/201. (Luckily it wasn't me.) 
     Then along comes a deep pocket resort that creates a fishing-camp and "improves" the stream. Most of the landowners have done some modest bank stabilization, or rock placement to improve stream habitat, but IMHO, the Broadmoor Fishing-Camp has improved the character right out of this stream in their 1.3 mile section. It no longer looks like Tarryall Creek. It now looks like the exclusive Wigwam Club. Not everyone needs botox and plastic surgery, even if we can afford it, and sometimes it makes you uglier. Here are some examples:

Beaver dam before from TripAdvisor user STLCarib 2011.

"Improved" finely crafter rock drop.
   Downstream around the bend as the Tarryall comes out of a canyon where the tracked excavators could not work, the glides and riffles have been replaced by log over pour dams like most private clubs seem to favor and deep, deep, hatchery like pools.

This stretch is followed just down stream by: 

This. On each side of the over pour log a deep hole has been excavated.
J-Hooks and resting nooks built with imported stone, all perfectly placed complete the 3/4 mile of improvements. 

     All these types of "aquatic habitat improvements" are permitted and encouraged under the Federal Clean Water Protection Act and the Corps of Engineers permitting process. These type of aquatic habitat improvements are what we are hoping for to restore the Denver South Platte river from it's current state of a trapezoidal shaped flood control conduit to a natural river setting.  But here the creek already was perfect. 
     These "improvements" will definitely enable the Broadmoor Fishing Camp to:
1. Make a happy place for hatchery raised trout.
2. Put a 150 neophyte anglers in a safe place where the mowed lawn will not hang up their back cast.
3. Feed the fish a healthy diet of fish chow and use nymphs that look like pellets to assure fishing success. 
      Here is the first fish caught just after the tractors left the scene. A pale stocked rainbow probably from the spring stocking of a neighboring ranch. Many more stockers are sure to follow.

     Whether the existing bugs and wild trout will like these new and quite different digs is another matter. You be the judge. Here are some photos areas left natural. Except for this one fish above, I could not catch or even glimpse any wild trout in the new improved areas. Admittedly this was a limited study.

This is Ralph. An 18 inch rainbow on a neighboring natural area. Note the dark color of his spots.

Released back home.