Camped deep into the unknown the past two days. Water temps were in the low 50s with 95 degree weather. Dry fly action was red hot! With the sun setting behind the mountains it was time for El Matador!
Sunday, August 12, 2012
The causes of this decline of the bull trout are many and varied. These impacts are often categorized into three groups.
1. problems with land management
2. problems with water management
3.problems with fisheries management
The influence of poorly executed land management practices including grazing, logging, mining, and roads along stream are well documented. Poor management impacts the immediate area and a considerable distance downstream from increased sediment loads in the stream. Only 18 percent of the bull populations and stream segments range wide are not threatened by degraded conditions.(Isaacson 1994)
The Bull trout is an incredible important indicator of overall riverine ecosystem health. Among the salmon family, the bull, is one of the most stringent for requiring clean cold water for successful reproduction and survival. With little tolerance to water warmer then 64 deg. F and is very sensitive to sedimentation of streams. A bull cannot exceed their tolerance limits for any of these factors. Water management problems can impact bulls by fragmenting populations, degrading water quality, and changing water flow patterns. Most importantly is the use of river water for irrigation. As much as 80% of stream flow has been removed from rivers. Second, irrigation return water is frequently warmer then 64 deg. F creating a thermal barrier from upriver spawning habitat. Irrigation return is also full of unhealthy sediments and chemicals.
Fisheries management problems is another issue face by Bulls in the past. The brook trout was introduced at the turn of the century creating competition and hybridization. Since brook trout spawn at a younger age they will numerically swamp the bulls' reproductive potential. From 1913 to 1914 a large scale commercial net fishing was permitted in an attempt to eradicate the species. (Brown, 1971) At the time the view of bulls as a pest species may have originated due to their extremely predatory habits on eggs and juveniles of other introduced salmonid fish species. The introduction of alien species also brought forth disease such as Whirling. The fact that state fish and wildlife agencies permitted a game fish species to decline to the point of being extinct does not speak highly of their concern for native fish species. Luckily in the past 10 years or so this has taken a turn for the better.
Bull Trout Populations in the US declined in the 1980s and 90s. With recent regulations the once Dolly Varden is back on the feed! Targeting bull trout in Idaho is completely legal on a catch and release basis. In Montana the Hungry Horse Reservoir, Swan Lake, and South Fork Flathead River is open to catch and release.
Thursday, August 9, 2012
Hooked this hen not long ago. She was sitting in a heavy slot below a water fall. Being barefoot the beaut pulled me out into a shallow and swift current. I became unstuck with the slippery rocks below, and backflopped into a dead mans float for 35 yards or so until I regained footing in the deeper water. We ended up netting her way down river. I can't help but laugh at the irony of fighting a fish in this manner in downtown Missoula. Those of you that have seen a River Runs Through It know what I mean. Amazing to see how much harder a female can pull over a male at times.
Soaking wet and stoked!
Landing big fish head first in a small net can be the way to go
Sunday, August 5, 2012
A quick video of a few of the bull trout clients had fed last month. Bull trout are without question the shark of the river. Not uncommon to hook into a trout only to have one of these beasts come chase her down. One of these bull trout attacked a whitefish. After chasing the raft 40 yards downstream he spit the whitefish out and ate the streamer. With the whitefish on the dropper we managed to pull both fish in. Who said an unintentional bait and switch couldn't be done on the fresh water.
Mr. Bully with a whitey safe and sound in the net...For now.
The heat is at its peak. Fishing had begun to wain down over the past few weeks. Time to start prospecting for warm water species if you have not already. Pike, bass, carp, and so on. Just because its hot out does not mean there is no fishing to be had. Night time is also another great option. Mice and big dark streamers could land you that lunker that has haunted your dreams.