Monday, June 20, 2011

Winners announced today!

If you're interested in who won the TU/OBN outdoor bloggers writing contest, head on over to Outdoor Blogger Network today and stay tuned ... the top 10 will be announced over the course of the day, and the top four will be announced later this afternoon.

Keep your fingers crossed... YOU could be on your way to Montana next month to fly fish the Centennial Valley!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Get Those Competitive Juices Flowing...

In case you hadn't heard, Trout Unlimited is hosting a tour in southwest Montana for a handful of lucky outdoor bloggers. And, in order to be one of the four lucky bloggers on the tour, anyone interested must first join the Outdoor Blogger Network and enter a writing contest.
It's worth the effort ... trust me. The four lucky winners will also need to get themselves to Montana–beyond that, TU will handle all expenses at the rustic but beautiful Elk Lake Resort for three nights starting July 23. Evenings will be spent around a campfire, and days will be spent in and around Centennial Valley, where bloggers will see some great country and some of the work Trout Unlimited and its partners are doing to protect, reconnect and restore some great fish and wildlife habitat.

Oh, and did I mention the fishing? With a number of lakes and streams within close proximity, TU won't leave the four fortunate OBN-ers hanging. The fishing in the Centennial Valley is legendary, with opportunities to catch west slope cutthroat trout, Arctic grayling, rainbow trout, brown trout and brook trout. 
It will be a grand adventure by any measure, and worth the effort to enter the contest and jot down some of your finest fishing memories in hopes of creating new ones in the heart of Montana's trout country. 

And, even if you don't win, you'll get the chance to wear a sweet TU ballcap–I'll personally make sure of it. 

Good luck. Get to writing...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Brookies on the Brink ...

A new post in the Open Spaces blog from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service examines how climate change might impact brook trout habitat and populations in Appalachia. As an aside, the post quotes from my book, "Shin Deep: A Fly Fisher's Love for Living Water."

Author Jeff Fleming was kind enough to call me and ask me about the attraction brookies offer the dedicated backcountry angler, and he was even more kind to cite my book as a resource.

Rapidan River brookie.
Make no mistake about it. Brookies are, indeed, on the brink in their native range, and you can't argue with the climate change models that predict significantly greater stress on their habitats, even if you disagree with the causes of climate change in general.

The Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture, also mentioned in Fleming's post, is a large collaborative that is rightly taking into account the challenges facing not only brook trout recovery, but the steps necessary to ensure long-term brook trout survival in this unique char's native range. The post is worth a read–especially if you're a die-hard creek freak who values small water and the gorgeous little creatures that swim in them.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Know Your Fly Fishing?

Trout Unlimited and Redington Gear have teamed up to encourage more folks to get involved with the sport of fly fishing. Interested Facebook junkies can get in on the action, win some great Redington gear and have a bit of fun getting to know both TU and Redington by taking this quiz over at Facebook.

The bottom line is this... Redington "gets it." The connection between protecting and restoring our fisheries and the economic importance to partners in the fly fishing industry isn't as obvious as it should seem. I understand it, and you probably do, too... unfortunately, the Redingtons out there are few and far between. By working with TU, they are setting a wonderful example, and I hope more companies out there that depend on anglers and other sportsmen for their revenues will make the same kind of investment in TU's work. It will pay off–guaranteed.

Thanks to Redington for engaging TU in this partnership, and thanks for the help keeping our fish and our fishing intact for the next generation of anglers. Great work...

Friday, June 3, 2011

One man's trash...

I'm not deluded. I know they don't belong here. I know they're not good for much of anything.

Unless the thrill that comes with the scream of the reel and sight of my backing escaping through the tip-top of my favorite 7-weight counts as "good." But if that's the case, I'm pretty damn selfish.

Carp are marvelous, adaptable creatures, with a survival instinct that might not be rivaled. But their meer presence is a detriment to the way things ought to be. The fact that they're here, swimming in this river, at this time, is but one sign of the natural apocalypse. But I can't help but be mightily impressed.

It helps, too, that the best Mother Nature has to offer is fighting back. The sun is shining down on this remote freshwater flat, and she's held the wind at bay this glorious evening, granting us the sight of a tailing denizen that, while it doesn't belong here, is amazingly at home in this sometimes tortuous environment.

Of course, its hardy nature puts it at home in just about every environment, tortuous or otherwise. But this place, which can be so barren, so cold, so ... desolate, yet so wonderfully beautiful, doesn't deserve to be trashed by some Asian cyprinid that can't swim a dozen feet without stirring up the bottom and wreaking havoc on the way things ought to be.

But things aren't perfect. No longer is this a froggy little backwater where native Yellowstone cutthroat trout congregate to spawn on black, volcanic gravel. It's a place where massive carp pair up and enjoy soupy sex in water that was once just right and is now just right enough. It's where non-native smallmouth bass meander among the rocks and the occasional monster rainbow or brown trout might interlope into what has become a perfectly functional warm-water fishery in coldwater fishery country.

So tomorrow, when the gang arrives to chase these massive, piscine children of a far-away land, I can show my respect, but I don't have to show my sympathy. They don't belong here. They don't belong anywhere on our shores.

But that doesn't make them less incredible, and I'm no less impressed.

Here's to the rangy carp. May it die with honor.