Saturday, June 19, 2010

Middle Fork Bucket Brigade - 2010

Following a nine-hour drive from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina I unpacked, repacked, and thirty minutes later I was on the road for the beautiful mountains of West Virginia. It was the weekend for the third annual Middle Fork of the Williams limestone fines bucket brigade.

Four hours later, I had camp set up and had just enough light left to add another new brookie stream to my personal list. First drift...

The next morning I was up at daylight, made myself a nice cup of coffee, and picked up on the stream I had fished briefly the evening before.

While at Myrtle Beach I picked up a new wading shoe, the Vibram FiveFingers. It was really nice to feel like you were wading barefoot, but the jury is still out on the traction they provide.

Following a brief, successful outing on this new stream it was off to the Cranberry Visitor's Center. I will not go into the details of how the bucket brigade works, you can find them in the 2009 Bucket Brigade entry.

The details I will provide:
  • In 2008 there were 32 volunteers who moved about 4.5 tons of limestone fines.
  • In 2009 there were over 50 volunteers (seven different TU chapters) who moved 7 tons.
  • In 2010 we had over 110 volunteers who moved 9 tons.

Among the volunteers were representatives of six different TU chapters, over 60 Walmart volunteers (12-15 different stores across WV and VA), WVDNR volunteers, American Electric Power volunteers, Morris Creek watershed association volunteers, and volunteers from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.

We also received $5,000 in grant money from American Electric Power and another $1,000 from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

The shirts worn by the Walmart volunteers:

We were rained on and the thunder rumbled, but the spirits and the energy remained high during the entire event.
I had to crop the photo to get the large number of volunteers in the frame.

I spoke with the event coordinator and one of the "founding fathers" of TU in West Virginia and, to the best of his knowledge, this is the largest gathering of volunteers in the history of WVCTU...a feat I hope we can repeat or better in 2011.

Following a fine lunch, for which the rain stopped, it was off to the water again. This would be a special outing, as I would be partnered with the driving force behind the bucket brigade and head of the WV DNR limestone fines program. Our destination would be the Middle Fork itself!

As we strung up our rods at the trailhead the skies opened up again. We tried to wait it out but it wasn't going to let up. As we entered the trail we passed what appeared to be three generations of spin fisherman - not a good sign when the locals know the brookies are back.

I'm not one to stereotype and they didn't appear to have a creel of fish but they did say all of the holes had boot prints around them. I assumed they were fishing close to the trailhead, but that's not where we were headed. We were going in at least a mile before we started fishing.

The driving rain made fishing my typical dry/dropper difficult, but I did manage one on top.

My first Middle Fork of the Williams brookie. I can't describe the feeling I had knowing I did my part to restore this stream that was "dead" for many years!

With fishing on top a little slow, I turned to my "go to" pattern - a size 12 olive woolybugger.

I started picking up brookies more frequently going subsurface, including this brookie, the largest of the day.

With the relentless rain I left the DSLR in the vehicle and took only my waterproof video camera. The downside to this camera is the lack of filters, the upside is underwater photography.

The fishing wasn't anything spectacular, but up until a couple of years ago this stream was devoid of our only native salmonid.

These guys make you wonder what the future holds for this stream.

We fished to almost the three-mile mark where there were still brookies present.
An hour hike out and it was time to dry off - even in my raingear I was nearly soaked through. I had planned to stay another night and venture into the headwaters of a stream I fished during this outing in 2009. One remaining set of dry clothes, threat of more rain, and high possibility of high water caused me to cut my weekend short.

There are a couple of TU events I look forward to every year and this one has to be at the top of the list!



Terry said...

Great pics! The color on those brookies is fantastic. I am glad to see such a big number of people volunteer.

Maddy said...

I spinfish and tenkara flyfish, and just because I spinfish does not mean I keep fish to eat. I release every fish I catch, and can not fathom keeping a native trout. Not all spin fisherman keep fish, and not all flyfisherman release fish. While the majority of flyfisherman are catch and release, I would also say the majority of spinfisherman are catch and release also.

Chris S. said...


I mentioned the spin fisherman did not have a creel, which meant (to me) they were also releasing their catch. They told me the fish were few and far between, which meant they caught fish. They also told me about the boot prints and hinted that somebody had kept the fish from those holes.

Not to get into the debate of spin vs. fly, but ~90% of the fisherman in WV are "meat" fisherman and this stream empties into one of the more popular catch & keep streams in the state.


Cutthroat Stalker said...

Really nice Chris! That must be an incredible feeling to fish a place you helped bring back. Kudos to you and all the volunteers who are making a difference bringing the brookie back.

-scott c