My first attempt at a fishing "short".

Friday, August 23, 2013

A Dish on Fish: Bull Trout "Bracketology

Bull Trout “Bracketology”

As winter begins to lose its grip on the Pacific Northwest and the rain clouds occasionally give way to ever so brief sun breaks, the month of March marks an exciting time for “wildlife” regionally and across the country.  A veritable diversity of “animals” from across the landscape gather together in various regions of the country and engage in interspecific competition.  Grizzlies will battle badgers, owls may take on golden bears, and bearcats will tussle with longhorns.  While wildcats, jayhawks and even wolverines will be included, sadly the beavers, cougars, ducks and huskies will all be left out of this year’s “March Madness”. 
The NCAA tournament is generally reserved for teams sporting mammalian, avian or even reptilian mascots.  Very rarely are fish invited to the “Big Dance”.   After being ESA listed in 1998, bull trout have been in a tournament of their own.  Much like how a scrappy, physically overmatched regional college feeds off of emotion and frantically launches threes to hang with perennial ACC or Big East powerhouses, weakened bull trout populations throughout the Columbia Basin are faced with seemingly insurmountable opponents as they attempt to advance toward recovery.   In the NCAA tournament, any given basketball team must face and defeat numerous opponents as they progress through the tournament.  Similarly, bull trout survival and eventual recovery does not depend upon prevailing over only one major threat, but instead a combination of multiple factors must be overcome.  Factors such as habitat degradation, hybridization and a changing climate (among others) are the Kentucky, Syracuse and Duke of the bull trout world.  To continue the analogy, on the other side of the bracket, resource managers are working to address many factors that influence bull trout recovery.  Management actions that facilitate genetically diverse, interconnected populations and provide for habitat protection and enhancement are essential to bull trout recovery.    
Seemingly every year, a small school defies the odds and rises from obscurity to topple dominant programs as they advance through the NCAA tournament.  They are often referred to as a “Cinderella Team”.  Through persistence, cooperation, adaptive management and maybe even a little luck, it’s possible that the recovery and eventual delisting of bull trout could be a “Cinderella Story” of its own.

Submitted by Marshall Barrows

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

In The Slough

Another annual trek to the far reaches of Yellowstone National Park has come and gone.  It was filled with a renewal of old memories, and plenty of new ones this time around.

Things were different, and not just because the male to female count was 5 to 0.  Perhaps it was the weather, perhaps it was luck, or even heightened senses, but the critters were out and about a little more than usual.

The View From Camp

This, the view from the campfire, wasn't half bad at all I must say.  On the evening of the first night Kyle "Eagle Eyes" Nelson spotted something in the distance running across the meadow at full speed.  It looked as though it was "bounding" as opposed to the gallop of an elk.  What it was we still don't know.

The next evening as Kyle and I headed back to camp from fishing he spotted another critter "bounding" along about a half mile away.  As we tried to figure out what it was the animal "sat" on it's haunches.  I'm no animal expert but I'd have to say I've never seen an elk sit.  Cougar?  Bear?  Tan colored wolf?  Who knows.

These two occurrences certainly forced us to keep out heads on a swivel and the bear spray handy the rest of the trip.  The cutthroat were plentiful and as usual were easily fooled with concoctions of foam and slick streamers both.  Hoppers, ants, and beetles were on the menu.  Luckily we were not.

At one point I noticed some rather large dog tracks along the bank as one often does while fishing where tourists tread.  It was then that I remembered that dogs were not allowed to be off of a leash in the park, and most didn't have footprints the size of my hand.  Again, the senses were turned firmly to the "on" position.

The hike out was uneventful until we got about a mile from the trail head.  At this point we were a little more relaxed, when up ahead, a black bear rounded the corner headed our way, using the trail as though it belonged to him.  That day it certainly did.  Senses on.  We unsheathed the spray and backed off the trail.  Thank goodness we were in a spot where there was plenty of room.  Mr. Black sniffed the air a bit, and lumbered on down the trail.  This made the last hill of the hike a breeze as adrenaline pumped through our veins.

Notice the bruin in the background

And so, another trip come and gone.  We'll certainly all put in for the permit again next year, but this time, the senses will be on from the get go.