A blog about issues affecting the backcountry, secret spots (maybe) and hunting and fishing in wild places by traditional means. If you are interested in posting something to the blog, please email your submission to the Blog Manager. Also, to help spread the word about BHA, please feel free to “like” or “share” entries via the integrated facebook links below each entry.
By Idaho BHA member, Gary Lane
Wild fish and Mitigation fish. One for the river, one for the bag. But you can’t have one without the other. What’s the difference? Wild fish are nature’s way of providing for free flowing rivers. Mitigation fish are man’s way of paying to artificially simulate nature, when barrier dams break the system’s conveyor belt.
Wild fish make up nature’s original gene pool and are the seed source used to propagate mitigation fish via hatchery production. Dilution of the natural DNA structure that has been fine tuned by eons of time, or eroding it into extinction may have long term catastrophic consequences. The jury is still out, but the likely-hood that man will be able to perpetuate hatchery fish forever if the wild genes reach extinction, is highly unlikely.
How can we improve chances for sustaining or improving the wild fishery on a personal level? When fishing for salmon and steelhead, whatever we can do to increase survival rates when catching and releasing fish is important.
By New Mexico BHA Member, Jeff Young
There are many ways to tell the difference between someone new to the game and a seasoned veteran of the sport. Perhaps the easiest way is which way they are facing on the water. A fly fisherman casting downstream is a sure sign of being new to the sport. The cure for this flaw is not catching fish. If you are not working upstream, fish will not come easy.
Trout must swim upstream in order to breathe. Water enters their mouth and exits the gills as they face upstream. In addition, by facing upstream, the trout catch whatever food comes their way by the flow of the current. So for a fly fisherman, this leads to the next question. How do trout see?
A trout’s eyes are on the side of their head with their primary field of vision directly in front of them. Because of this placement, however, they do have an extended range of peripheral vision. This vision allows them to see things to the side of them.
By BHA Conservation Director, Holly Endersby.
Scientists recently gave the nod to sea otters as unlikely protectors of estuary health. It seems the otters eat crabs which feed on small invertebrates that slurp up algae which bloom when water has increased nutrients in it. The algae grow on the leaves of sea grass-the canary in the coal mine of estuary health-causing less sunlight to reach the sea grass resulting in a die back of the plant. Nutrients increase in estuaries most commonly from nitrogen-rich fertilizers used in agriculture. Rain carries the nitrogen out of the soil and into surrounding waters which carry the load to the ocean. After extensive research, scientists realized it was the presence of sea otters that allowed sea grass to remain healthy and which worked to stabilize the estuary environment.
“It’s almost like these sea otters are fighting the effects of poor water quality,” said Brent Hughes, of the University of California and lead author of the study.
By BHA's Oregon Sportsmen Outreach Coordinator, Brian Jennings.
Now that the Feds have gone back to work, we can get back to hunting and fishing on public lands that were shutdown to access. And, we can expect to hear more about expected legislation from Senator Ron Wyden impacting 2.4 million acres in Western Oregon known as the O&C lands (Oregon & California Rail lands). BHA has been following this issue closely and we have advocated a balanced use strategy which will protect back country habitat for hunters & anglers while at the same time increase logging in a scientific way to help boost needed revenues for jobs in 18 Western Oregon counties. This past summer, Oregon BHA members at the invitation of Wyden’s office came up with a map designating areas BHA would like set aside for special habitat conservation. The map
was well received by Senator Wyden and his staff because of the balanced nature of BHA's position
on the management of O&C Lands.
The following is an excerpt from BHA Member, Jeff Young's new book The River's Voice.
I have a favorite place to fish that I will not describe in detail. I plan to keep it special; a place that only I know about, or a few adventurous souls who figure it out for themselves. There are many places in New Mexico where one can park a car, and head 20 feet or so to the river to find fish. In these places you will find crowds, camps, and kids throwing rocks. Although I am not snobby enough to say I won't fish those place, (I often do fish them!), I still enjoy the quiet and solitude that my favorite place brings me when I am there.
There are a couple of ways to get to my wilderness "honey hole", however, they all involve hiking. On one route the hike is through the middle of the stream. On one occasion I didn't want to disclose my access point and looked at a map for an alternative way in. I found a place where I could hike over a long ridge, and then down a canyon to get there. This way I would go undetected by people who parked at my other access point. Although my parking spot was a bit risky, it turned out to be perfect, and I enjoyed a nice walk through a ponderosa forest and spotted some deer on the way in.
When I am fishing the wilderness, all troubles fade away; I feel a peace that I cannot feel in the home of civilized man. As I work my way up the stream, I see nothing but wildlife, beautiful scenery, and a crystal clear trout waters. It is fly fishing as it was meant to be.
Read more of Jeff's book here.