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bend as the Tarryall comes out of a canyon where the tracked excavators could not work, the glides and riffles have been replaced by log over pour dams like most private clubs seem to favor and deep, deep, hatchery like pools.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