Tuesday, December 29, 2009

SE Idaho Fly Tying Expo

One of the premier shows in the country. April 16-17 2010 Idaho Falls Idaho. Mark your calendar. The Snake River Cuttroat organization that hosts this show raises significant money which is used for cutthroat conservation and habitat restoration.

2010 East Idaho Fly Tying Expo from Idaho Falls Magazine on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Idaho Yellowstone Cutthroat Management Plan

From 2007. This one has some good information and can be a good resource for finding new fishing spots.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Good Reading

Discussing the differences between fine spotted and large spotted Yellowstone cutthroat trout (Snake river cutthroat and Yellowstone Cutthroat) and whether the constitute separate sub species. An interesting paper from a couple years back: http://www.fs.fed.us/r4/caribou-targhee/fisheries/documents/proceedings_yct_spot.pdf .

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Restoring Cutthroat Habitat in Colorado

Final decisions on how to go forward with cutthroat habitat restoration in Colorado after a decade of legal wrangling. The area in question is below the reservoir on Long Draw Pass. The operations of the reservoir dries the creek below during the winter months. The compromise still keeps the creek dry in the winter but in exchange the operators have agreed to restore 43 miles of habitat elsewhere in the watershed. The plans should be available in January. See http://www.coloradoan.com/article/20091207/NEWS01/912070310/1002/CUSTOMERSERVICE02/Trout-habitat-now-on-the-line for more details.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Downright Balmy & Protecting Westslope Curtthroat

After a week+ of sub zero temperatures today it is supposed to actually get over freezing. I went out this morning around 7:00 am and it felt pretty warm, almost tropical ;)

Glacier national Park is proposing some regulation changes to boost westslope cutthroat populations, namely:

1. Catch-and-release for cutthroat trout west of the Continental Divide.
Exception: Catch and possession limit of two cutthroat trout from Hidden, Evangeline, and Camas lakes.

Justification: Native westslope cutthroat trout would benefit from additional protection to maintain strong populations in the park in the face of expanding non-native species, and they are extremely vulnerable to angling. The proposed change would result in increased consistency between GNP and the State of Montana westslope cutthroat trout fishing regulations on the west side of the park. Hidden, Evangeline, and Camas lakes contain non-native Yellowstone cutthroat trout populations which may pose a genetic risk to downstream native westslope cutthroat trout populations. Allowing harvest of Yellowstone cutthroat from these waters allows for continued angler harvest opportunity for non-native fish.

2. Place lower McDonald Creek under the general park fishing season dates, limits, and methods of fishing.

Justification: Continuing a special catch-and-release regulation limited to the use of artificial flies or lures on lower McDonald Creek is not likely to have a measurable impact on westslope cutthroat trout abundance in the McDonald Lake system, and this change would simplify the regulations. Allowing anglers to catch and harvest non-native fish species such as lake and rainbow trout from lower McDonald Creek would also be consistent with park fisheries management direction.

3. Modify and clarify the regulations for Hidden Lake and outlet. The outlet of Hidden Lake and an area extending 100 yards into the lake would be closed to fishing through July 31 to protect spawning cutthroat.

Justification: Hidden Lake supports a population of non-native Yellowstone cutthroat trout that can provide a harvest opportunity for anglers, however the current regulation permits only catch and release fishing. Clarifying open dates of fishing in and near the outlet of the lake will provide clarity for anglers using the fishery.

4. Increase the daily catch and possession limit for brook trout to 20 fish park-wide.

Justification: A “no limit” regulation on brook trout is biologically justifiable as they compete and hybridize with native fish species, but it is possible for anglers to confuse brook trout with juvenile bull trout. Twenty fish is more than the average angler is likely to catch, and would serve to limit any potential adverse impacts to bull trout populations should anglers incorrectly identify juvenile bull trout as brook trout. This change would improve consistency with State of Montana fishing regulations.

5. Modify language regarding the use of lead downriggers to read that a “cannon ball” style lead weight greater than 2 pounds may be used when attached to the downrigger cable.

Justification: To clarify the intent of the fishing regulation regarding the use of lead downrigger balls.

6. Catch and release fishing only on Midvale (Two Medicine drainage) and Wild (Hudson Bay drainage) creeks.

Justification: To protect remaining genetically pure populations of westslope cutthroat trout east of the Continental Divide in GNP.

See the proposed Fishing Cahnges to Park Fishing Regulations document on the following page for more info: http://www.nps.gov/glac/parkmgmt/planning.htm .

Saturday, December 12, 2009


There is cold, damn cold, hell has frozen over cold and then there is SE Idaho, which still isn't as cold as Stanley ID (consistently the coldest spot in the lower 48) or even West Yellowstone (a close second). The last week we have been seeing double digit negative temps at night and single digits above during the day. That is not counting wind chill.

So last Saturday Chad and I had the bright idea to head out bright and early to the SF. This was the first days of the cold snap and so the river was not iced hardly at all... contrast that with when I drove over Lorenzo bridge Thursday...... well after a week of sub 0 nights the river looked like a slushie.

The air temps must have been like 6-7 above but with the howling wind, it sounded like a jet taking off as it tore through the cottonwoods, it must have been -15. It was the coldest I have ever been while fishing even though I have fished with colder temps, just never with a bitter wind like that.

The good news is we caught fish. A good number of brown trout sitting deep in a hole. Didn't see any fish on redds. It was so cold that the ice that usually accumulates in the guides froze on the line faster then you could strip it in through the guides... hence not too many solidified guides. The fish weren't huge, but they were plentiful. They must have been a little sluggish from the cold as they didn't fight incredibly hard.

Chad took a nasty spill on the way back on the one chunk of ice on the river. The felt on my boots would freeze solid as I walked so I was skating over the rocks. Chad also broke his tip clearing out the ice. But still a good trip. I contemplated going out again today as it is warmer....... but decide against it.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Gary Loomis joins Temple Fork Outfitters

A while back the Drake was running a spoof notice of how the re-animated corpse of Ernest Hemmingway had joined the staff at TFO, and I read it and was amused as it at times appears that every industry "great" has joined the staff. TFO's list of notables in the fly fishing world seems to grow every time I turn around, running the gamut from Lefty Kreh, Bob Clouser, and Jim Teeny and now notable rod designer and builder Gary Loomis is going to have significant impact on a line of spinning rods that TFO is introducing.

As one who owns several TFO products I have been pleased with the value of the product, and their great customer service. I look forward to seeing Gary's input on their product lines.

(Researching this a little further... I guess this is somewhat old news, but it was new to me ;) )

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Cutthroats on the South Fork

I have heard from two sources now, but have not seen an official report yet that the cutthroat numbers on the South Fork are down and that the rainbow numbers are up. Both sources have noted that recent electro surveys around Conant have resulted in an increased presence of rainbows in that stretch.

I fish the stretch from Irwin down to Spring Creek or Conant more than any other stretch of the river and in the last couple of years my non-empirical methods of just counting what I am catching had me catching cutthroats at a rate of about 7:1 to rainbows, and the number of rainbows I have been catching was decreasing yearly. My methods must have produced bad results as the electro shocking is showing otherwise (cutthroat have always been a bit easier to fool on a fly).

Anglers, if you fish the SF please keep all the rainbows you catch. Give them to friends, neighbors and colleagues, but don't just release them back into the river.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Fate of the Teton River and it's wild cutthroat

As a native of SE Idaho with the Teton River some 20 minutes from my house I have watched with a mixture of fascination and disgust as every year local state legislators and water companies try to introduce legislation to rebuild the dam. The dam that failed 30 some odd years ago, catastrophically. Strangely enough they want to build a new dam in the same geologically fractured area as the original dam, which seems to me a bad idea. Especially as my house sits in an area that could possibly be inundated if the dam was to fail again.............. a secondary concern to what the dam would do to one of the best cutthroat fisheries in the nation.

There is a good article at The Cleanest Line on the Teton. Go check it out. And a good TU Video.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Whirling Disease White Paper

The University of Montana together with Trout Unlimited have published a Whirling Disease White Paper detailing research into the life cycle and management of whirling disease/ check it out at http://whirlingdisease.montana.edu/resources/publications.htm . Other resources are also available at the site.

Update: Not only are other resources available they are in the form of two free videos. One on whirling disease, "Black Tale" and the other on cutthroat trout: "Rising From the Shadows." The videos are free and they don't even charge for shipping. I should have mine shortly.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming

So steelhead season for me is mostly over. I will still spend some time tying steelhead flies and from time to time will post pictures of the flies, but for the most part I am returning to news on non anadromous fish.

From The Cutthroat's Spot

As cutthroats are one of my favorite fish, the namesake of the site, and the species I most often fish for I am going to try to cover more cutthroat specific topics the next little while. I spent most of the late summer and fall chasing native snake river and fine spotted cutthroat in SF tributaries. I am going to try to branch out to more species the coming year as I know of some creeks north of here full of west slope cutts.

Speaking of other cutthroat species, the Center for Biological Diversity has filed a lawsuit seeking protection for threatened Colorado Cutthroat. Their suit makes the argument that the colorado Cutthroat was not listed because it is doing fairly well in it's current range, but that the historic range was not considered (size of historic range) in the decision making process. The questions then becomes would federal management of this species have better results than what is currently being accomplished by state by state management (mostly in Utah and Colorado)?

Most of the discussion from anglers and conservation groups that I am aware of considers state management a better option, but feel free to disagree and to discuss.