Sunday, December 12, 2010

2010 Year in Review - Quality Over Quantity

As the year quickly comes to a close, it's time to reflect on the adventures of 2010. With the move to the Cincinnati area, I didn't fish nearly as much but the times I did make it out were very special.

Before I get into the video portion of the recap, here are a few numbers:
  • I added 7 new streams to my West Virginia brookie list.
  • I added another state (California) to my brookie list, bringing my total to 12.
  • I added 2 new brookie streams in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
  • I caught brookies in the same stream but in two different states (West Virginia and Virginia).
  • I added 11 new native species to my personal life list, bringing my list to 25.
  • One of those new species, the Lahontan cutthroat, I ended up catching in 3 different states (Nevada, California, and Oregon).
  • FINALLY, I added a successful California Heritage Trout Challenge to the successful Wyoming Cuttslam, and the "unofficial" Colorado Cuttslam.
To me, the fishing is just as much about the people and places I fish as it is the fish themselves. I started out the year with the annual father/son trip to the Smokys.


We ended up hiking about 20 miles over the three days...

 saw some pretty water..


my first virgin stand of timber east of the Mississippi...


and caught a few brookies.


I didn't make many trips back to the mountains of West Virginia, but when I did they all had a purpose.

There was the Elkhorn Clean-up; where, following the work, I was able to catch all three species - two of which were wild, stream-born and the third (brookie) was a mystery.





Following this trip; I made a business trip to Las Vegas where I was able to add the Lahontan cutthroat to my life list and hike a bristlecone forest in the White Mountains of California, in search of Methusela.



My next trip back home was for the Blennerhassett chapter of TU spring campout ad hanging out with a small group of great guys.


This weekend started with the second annual 10-mile (round trip) hike into the Seneca Backcountry with another good friend.


Then was the Middle Fork of the Williams Bucket Brigade, where we had over 100 Walmart and TU volunteers show up in the rain to dump over seven tons of limestone fines - one bucket at a time.


I was also able to fish following the work with the head of the West Virginia DNR's Limestone Fines program, and add the same stream to my list - five years ago this stream was dead!


Another annual outing for me is the WVAngler.com campout. It was an incredible weekend where I caught one of my larger WV brookies followed by an incredible day with two great friends.



My next adventure was an epic road trip in which I added 11 new species to my life list, including the Life-long Bucket List hike into the Golden Trout Wilderness. I also was able to spend  day on Silver King Creek with Dave Balducci, one of the original Native Trout Anglers - another great highlight. However, I did strike out on the paiute cutthroat, Alvord cutthroat, Whitehorse Basin cutthroat, and the Humboldt cutthroat...looks like a return trip may be necessary.

I tried to summarize the trip in the following video, but there is no way pictures and words can summarize this amazing adventure!




I wrapped up my 2010 adventures with another annual event, the Blennerhassett chapter West Fork of Greenbrier fingerling stocking.


During this weekend I was able to catch brookies in the same stream, but two different states.

West Virginia Brookie:


Virginia brookie:


I couldn't close a 2010 wrap-up without saying goodbye to an old, reliable friend. These guys have literally been with me for hundreds of miles of hiking. They have accompanied me on multiple (6) 10+ mile hikes into Seneca Backcountry, hikes deep into the Dolly Sods Wilderness. They have made (2) hikes to Timber Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park - over 10 miles to over 11K feet, multiple trips into the RMNP altitude chasing (3) greenbacks and (3) brookies. They have also made hikes and been dunked in waters of Yellowstone NP, Smoky Mountains NP, Shenandoah NP, and Yosemite NP. Their ultimate demise was a 16-mile day hike in the New Mexico desert and the Gila Wilderness. If these guys could talk, they would speak volumes of the adventures they have covered with me!

I sure will miss these loyal companions!


Here's to a great year and hopefully another one for 2011, in which I hope to take my son on his first visit to the Rockies.

Chris

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Wonderful Fall Weekend in WV - 2010

Well, it's been a while...too long!!

I haven't wet a line since I returned from my western adventure. I have been working my tail off! I worked 38 of 39 days (most were 11-12 hours), including 32 in a row, and I'm a Monday to Friday guy.

I finally got a chance to return "home" to West Virginia for the annual fall stocking with my TU chapter. This is one of three or four TU events I try not to miss every year and this one usually signifies the end of the fishing season for me.

I had received a text earlier in the week from a friend that had fished this stream earlier in the week. I had not fished this brookie stream in over ten years. How do I know that? The lat time I fished this stream my wife was in her last trimester of pregnancy with my son - he turned 10 in May.

This particular stream is a limestone fines supported stream. The acidity comes from the high, headwater bogs.

The limestone fines that give this stream life.


During my previous outings to this stream I would hike in 2-3 miles and fish back to a meandering meadow section. I thought I would repeat my previous patterns on this stream, but it didn't work out for me.
It was mid 40s when I stepped out of the vehicle, but not too cold to wet wade. When I finally stepped into the stream I had second thoughts, luckily I had enough layers on top to survive.
I fished for a good half-mile of stream and didn't even spook a brookie. I made the decision to jump out of the stream and head back upstream to the section my friend had fished earlier - this paid off.
Apparently the feeder stream at this location is highly acidic and above it the limestone dump still buffers the stream. I finally picked up my first brookie just above the junction pool and the little guy was a gem.

One thing I do remember of the brookies in this stream was the unusual amount of red coloration. The fish were still amazingly colored!

I also soon learned that it was "that time of year" on this stream, as the next few pools offered this:

video

video

At this point I stepped out of the stream again, ensuring I did not step in/on redds. I did pick up a couple of smaller fish as the bigger and older fish were getting busy.
On the drive back out of the Wilderness Area, the road crossed the extreme headwaters of a stream that I have heard held browns on the lower end. I had plenty of time so I decided I would park the vehicle at the culvert and bushwhack down over the mountain to see what the headwaters held.
I missed a couple of strikes in the trickle that I could literally step over. I soon connected in this small pool:
Another small stream, West Virginia gem and another stream to add to my list.

I really hadn't set any plans on where I wanted to fish, only that I needed to be at the DNR cabin in Thornwood to meet the other members of our TU chapter.

On the way to Thornwood I stopped on the lower end of Seneca Creek, right along Rt 33, to have lunch. I parked in the fire department parking lot for lunch and figured while I was there: why not wet a line?

I picked up two small, wild rainbows before packing it in.

Where to go next? I thought about a stream I wanted to fish but my friend had told me this watershed was extremely low. What about a stream that headwaters in Virginia but it was too high and fast to fish when I was on it earlier in the year.
That's how I made my decision. I had caught brookies in this stream where it headwatered in Virginia but not where it flows through West Virginia.
It's a little over a mile on the trail to get to the water. This is a marked trail but it is one of the most rugged, knee-knocking, ankle-twisting trails in West Virginia...and, yes, there is a trail there.
The stream and the fall colors were beautiful!

The fish weren't too bad either.

This is a first for me - brook trout from the same stream, but in two different states (Virginia and West Virginia).
After catching a few brookies, the skies started to open up. It was raining in October! I have to say these are the best fall water levels I have seen in years!
With the rain coming down, I figured I could call it a day - brook trout in three streams and wild rainbows in a fourth. Now it was time to meet up with some friends, friends I had not seen in months.
It was a great evening hanging out with friends and swapping fishing tales but it was also an early evening for me...I had another big day ahead of me.
The next day was the annual fingerling stocking on the headwaters of the West Fork of the Greenbrier. This is the last fingerling stocking of the year and a great opportunity to get the kids involved.
Although downed timber kept us from stocking the waters we normally get to, it was still another great turnout for the Blennerhassett chapter of Trout Unlimited.

Following the stocking it was a difficult decision on where to fish - we were in "trout central" with wild trout streams in all directions. We finally agreed to hike into the lower canyon section of one of my two favorite streams in the state. Both of my fishing partners for the day had fished this stream, but neither had ventured into this section of the stream.
It's a 2-3 mile hike into this section, but once on the water it didn't take long to see why this is one of my two favorite streams in the state.

I picked up the majority of my fish on the dropper but it is nice to also pick up the occasional fish on the dry - which I did with this guy.
I landed the only brookie of the day:

More beautiful wild rainbows!

From this landmark on the stream it is nearly a two-hour hike back to the trailhead. This is not a section of stream to hike into for an afternoon of fishing, particularly with the short fall days.

It was another great evening in the cabin sharing the days fishing trips. Again, it was an early evening with plans to get up and get on the road and water the next morning.
The decision was to hit my other favorite stream in the state, but hitting the upper end.
This stream is also a limestone fines supported stream, with the fines purchased by our TU chapter. The upper end of this stream is known to produce higher numbers where the lower, canyon end is known for size.

The fishing started slow, picking up only a few small brookies.
I finally figured out why we were picking up only smaller fish. My partner pointed out a large female on redds, that he said was over 12".
I started taking my time moving about the stream, looking for the paired up brookies. I wish I had a polarized filter on my video camera. I was able to video this pair, but the glare on the water makes it difficult to see - look for the white edges on the pectoral and pelvic fins.
I was finally able to entice this nice fish to the surface in a pocket that was in the direct sunlight. Maybe the warming rays of sun had warmed the water in his pool.

video

Regardless, it was the only decent brookie I would pick up on the day...another wonderful fall weekend in West Virginia!
Chris

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Updated Personal Life List

With my 2010 western trip behind me, and at least another 6 weeks before I might be able to hit the water again, I thought I would update my personal species/sub-species life list.

Because my search has turned up quite a few species in introduced waters, I have distinguished the locations I have caught salmonids between native and introduced waters.


Char

Brook Trout

Salvelinus fontinalis

Native (WV, NY, PA, MD, VA, TN, NC)

Introduced (CO, WY, MT, UT, CA)


Bull Trout

Salvelinus confluentus

Native (ID)

Cutthroat

Greenback Cutthroat

Oncorhynchus clarki stomias

Native (CO)


Colorado River Cutthroat

Oncorhynchus clarki pleuriticus

Native (WY, CO, UT)


Rio Grande Cutthroat

Oncorhynchus clarki virginalis

Native (CO)



Yellowstone Cutthroat

Oncorhynchus clarki bouvieri

Native (WY)


Snake River Cutthroat

Oncorhynchus clarki behnkei

Native (WY)

Introduced (CO)



Bonneville Cutthroat

Oncorhynchus clarki utah

Native (WY)



Westslope Cutthroat

Oncorhynchus clarki lewisi

Native (ID)


Lahontan Cutthroat

Oncorhynchus clarki henshawi

Native (CA)

Introduced (UT, OR)



Apache & Gila Trout
Apache Trout
Oncorhynchus gilae apache
Native (AZ)

Gila Trout

Oncorhynchus gilae gilae

Native (NM)


Rainbow and Redband Trout

Columbia Basin Redband

Oncorhynchus mykiss gairdneri

Native (ID)


McCloud River Redband

Oncorhynchus mykiss stonei

Native (CA)


Goose Lake Redband

Oncorhynchus mykiss newberrii

Native (CA)


Warner Lakes Redband

Oncorhynchus mykiss newberrii

Native (CA)


Catlow Valley Redband

Oncorhynchus mykiss newberrii

Native (OR)



Harney-Mahleur Basin Redband

Oncorhynchus mykiss newberrii

Native (OR)

California Golden Trout

Oncorhynchus mykiss aguabonita

(CA)



Little Kern Golden Trout

Oncorhynchus mykiss whitei

Native (CA)


Kern River Rainbow

Oncorhynchus mykiss gilberti

Native (CA)



"Others"

Brown Trout

Salmo trutta

Introduced (WV, NY, PA, MD, VA, TN, NC, MT, WY, CO, UT, CA)


(Landlocked) Sockeye Salmon

Oncorhynchus nerka

Introduced (CO)

Arctic Grayling

Thymallus arcticus pallus

Introduced (CO, WY)


Mountain Whitefish

Prosopium williamsoni

Native (MT, WY)

I try to acknowledge the guys (mentors) who have helped me locate many of these species/sub-species. You can check out their lists here:

Native Trout Fly Fishing

and

Native Trout Angler

Thanks,

Chris