May 30, 2012

Someday Yellowstone, Someday!

I am standing waist deep in crystal clear cool water at the tail end of a wide, deep and slow running pool just watching fish after fish rise to the surface sipping bugs.  They sky is the most vivid blue I have ever seen and spattered with large white fluffy clouds.  The mountains in the background seem to extend all the way to heaven and the grassy meadows seem to welcome wildlife at every bend.  Any guess where I am?  I'm willing to bet many of you guessed somewhere out west maybe even in Yellowstone.

Yellowstone River - Bellow Yellowstone Lake  - Photo Courtesy of: Big Sky Fishing.Com   

As much as I wish the above scenario was real, it isn't, but the above is something I find myself day dreaming about often as I am sure many of a fly fisherman or fisherwomen has done themselves.  For those that have actually had the opportunity to live out the above scenario, I envy you and hope you realize how special it was and how lucky you are.  When I hear the words like native, wild and pristine there are only two places that come to mind.  One is Alaska and the other is Yellowstone.  Both of these incredible places are on my wish list and reside at the top of that list. 

The nature and beauty of Yellowstone was so apparent to our ancestors that they were smart enough to see the need to preserve this area and protect it so it would remain as wild and beautiful as ever for many generations to come and in doing so Yellowstone became the first National Park in 1872 and started a new concept on keeping wild places wild and open for all to enjoy.

Defining what is natural and wild can be an interesting discussion as many groups in the past have tried to restore certain specifies of wildlife or fish to an area where it once flourished as well as try to improve the numbers and quality for those looking to recreate and spend time there.  This balance is always a struggle and as good as a plan seemed years ago, it may not be that good today.  As many people visit Yellowstone each year and enjoy in the glory it has to offer, we must remember that there is a constant battle to keep Yellowstone truly wild, native, pristine and open for all and it is programs like the Native Fish Conservation Program that will be used to keep it this way.

The Native Fish Conservation Program is based on a National Park Service plan, approved May 2011, which outlines the park’s increased focus on restoring native fish and creating resiliency in fish populations. It lays out a detailed management strategy to ensure that native fish are restored to sustainable levels, so that they can support the natural food chain, native biodiversity, and sport fishery purposes.
The top priority of the NPS plan is to decrease the number of predatory, non-native lake trout, which in recent years have dramatically reduced the number of native Yellowstone cutthroat trout in Yellowstone Lake. Yellowstone Park Foundation funding of the Native Fish Conservation Program will allow for a significant effort to suppress lake trout through private sector netters on Yellowstone Lake. The goal of sustained efforts is to recover Yellowstone cutthroat trout to mid-1990s levels. 

Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout - Photo Courtesy of: National Park Service

Maintaining that balance to what was truly native and belongs to that which isn't but thrived and brought tourists and dollars to an area is where our challenges remain today in keeping these wild places, truly wild and original.

Growing up in the city people are always amazed that I have such a passion for the outdoors and I always told my mother that I felt I was born to late and in the wrong state.  I know I will one day travel west and spend time in Yellowstone and hopefully try my luck at hooking and landing one of it's famed native cutthroat trout.  The real question is will I come back East or will I have a new home out West.  My wife knows the answer and it is one of the reasons she will not let me go alone.

Someday Yellowstone!

This is my submission for the Trout Unlimited, Simms, the Yellowstone Park Foundation and the Outdoor Blogger Network – Blogger Tour 2012 contest.

May 21, 2012

First keeper Striper of 2012

I'm running way behind on my posts thanks to work, work and more work and Captain Scotty is claiming I refuse to write this post because he out fished us, but that is jut not true.  Now let go of my arm Scott.

The spring striper run here in CT is one that many folks wait for with baited breath.  Fishing last years run was dampened thanks to all the spring rain and storms we had, and with the dry spring this year we were expected a early and heated run.  So when Captain Scotty called and offered up a boat rid for his first striper trip of the year I jumped at it, of course that was after checking with the boss if it was okay to go fishing on our anniversary.  Thankfully she is a great wife and said yes.

Capt. Scotty with the first keeper of 2012

I met Scott and his son Dylan at 5am at the local store for some gas for the boat and some starter fluid for the 3 of us and off to the river we went.  We hit the launch in Hartford only to find a line of fisherman waiting for the gates to open and no one knew when they would.  We gave it about 15 minutes, which was pretty good considering how impatient we were and decided to head south to another launch and it was a smart move as we had no wait to get the boat wet.

As we set up for the first drift we started looking for signs of life and it was void of any.  Not what we were hoping for but this is a drift that usually produces a few fish.  Half way through the drift, Dylan had a good hit but it was a swing and a miss.  I watched a fish come up and smack some bait, but couldn't get one to bite or follow.  We setup for another drift and that produced nothing and as we were reeling up to setup for another drift Scott got slammed and had that fish on for about a minute before it came unbuttoned.  One more drift and another sniff but nothing so we moved to our second spot and repeated.

I missed a run off on this drift and Scott got whacked again so we setup one more time and at the end of the drift Scott finally got the hook set and the first keeper linesider of the year was in the boat, well, after a few misses by the net man Dylan. Another drift or two with nothing and it was on to spot three which was occupied with two other boats and no one catching anything.  By then it was 1pm and the river was getting crowded so we decided to pack it in and head home.

It wasn't what we had hoped for but a keeper is a keeper and Scott has the bragging rights for now, but all it takes is one good fish to change the tide.