Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Fly Fishing on Pluto

     The July 14th flyby of  New Horizons spacecraft gives new hope to anglers having difficulty landing a Yellow Dog reservation for fly fishing in Cuba. It will take 16 months to download all New Horizon's data and photos by which time it is expected most of the seats on the first Pluto flight will be booked. For those that like to get their fly fishing fix from far away destination, like my fishing buddy Dr. Fred, it would be wise to do a little research now and maybe put down a deposit the minute reservations open up.
Nasa photo - Sputnik Planum.

A typical day fly fishing on Pluto.

    Pluto revolves a lot slower than earth so a day is actually 153.3 hours long. Fishing on Pluto will be very much like fishing in Alaska and Finland during their 24 hours of daylight. This is perfect for fishing an evening hatch which could go on for days. Luckily the flight time of 9 years will be long enough to reset your internal biological clock to account for "rocket lag." The challenge for the guides will be bringing enough flies to last you for 76 hours of continuous fishing. You will want to pack cold weather gear even if you are fishing the volcanic areas. Without considering wind chill, summer temperatures on Pluto are about -369F. A buff will be essential but should be comfortable under your oxygen helmet. Skies will be cloudy.
Don't do this outside on Pluto unless you are used to 30% methane, like being in a room with teenage boys.

A typical stream.

    The photo above shows mountain peaks roughly 68 miles from Hillary Montes in the Sputnik Planum. This area is geologically young at 100 million years like the 80 million year Rocky Mountains. Over the next 16 months we should expect more and better photos. At that point we'll be able to find areas similar to Yellowstone National Park where volcanic activity is melting the ice that covers much of Pluto. Stick close to the "fire holes." Schedule a training trip to the Firehole River in the dead of winter for an idea of the conditions you'll face. Fishing in winter on South Boulder creek during the slush period will  also hone your skills for the slush and frost in the streams of Pluto.
S. Boulder - photo by the author.

    Casting should be relatively easy. Atmospheric wind speeds during storms is about 23 miles per hour, similar to early spring fishing on the South Platte River in South Park, Colorado. Since Pluto gravity is a mere 1/12 of Earth's, your 3.5 ounce Sage One Elite will only weigh 3/10 of an ounce. Fishing until your arm falls off will probably not be possible.

A typical fly.

     Just like the arctic Alaska stonefly, which can withstand -15C and builds glycol, the insects have probably evolved on Pluto the same way. We are all familiar with the winter stonefly which has similar capabilities in our climate zone. Suggested patterns would be black size 50 stonefly nymphs, a parachute adams, of course, size 0 and everything in between. There will be tying benches and material supplied during the 9 year flight. 
From the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation

A typical fish.

     Lack of ground level details has never impeded a fly flinging angler from speculating on a fishery from an airplane window. Optimism reigns supreme. 
     With the same array of hydrocarbon building blocks as earth, and a similar geological history, we can guess that chance and the harsh environment probably played the most important roles in the evolution of fish on Pluto. Water, nitrogen, and methane ice cover the surface, although on close passes to the sun, melting creates a thin atmosphere. It is during this melting that the fish of Pluto will undoubtably spawn. Just as brown trout clean up after rainbows and vice versa, the fish not spawning will be most susceptible to a fly. (Fishing to spawning fish on Pluto in view of fellow anglers could leave one out in the cold.) Consider the Antarctic tooth fish, a close relative of the Patagonian Toothfish we know as the Chilean Sea Bass. They have evolved antifreeze proteins in their blood that keeps water molecules from nucleating into ice in the 28F polar ocean.

     The Plutonian Toothfish must be strong to swim primarily in slush so 0X is a good recommended starting rig. Threading your size 50 arctic stonefly nymph on 0X tippet in the 23 mile and hour winds in -369F weather will make fly fishing on Pluto a trip to remember. So will the odor of methane.

Authors note: "Bug the Bug -3" is now available on Amazon. Targeted at new anglers and those who have lost their cell phones in the river, it is a recap of perplexing fly fishing question from the Fly Fishing Community facebook group answered by aquatic insects using an iPhone dropped in Clear Creek Colorado. If you are just getting into fly fishing and can't afford this eBook, send me a pm to my facebook page and I'll send you the link to a free review copy.  http://goo.gl/JBFfsY