Wednesday, September 24, 2008

NC Stocked Trout in 2009 will be sterile.....

In a news statement from the folks at the North Carolina Wildlife Commission in Raleigh fisheries supervisor Mallory Martin has some interesting plans to share. Hatchery- raised trout stocked in NC streams beginning in 2009 won't experience parenthood. That's because all brook, brown, and rainbow trout will be sterile and unable to reproduce.
The NCWRC gradually has been shifting its production of trout from those that can produce fry to those that won't be able to spawn offspring.
The impetus for converting to sterile trout is to help preserve the native Southern Appalachian brook trout, said Mallory Martin, the commission's regional fisheries supervisor in Marion, NC.
Hatcheries raise northern brook trout, which have mixed with native brookies, reducing the native trout population. Genetic assessments show 39% of NC brook troutare pure natives, 9% are direct descendents of northern brookies and 52% are a mixture. Sterile trout can reduce this hybridization. "The primary reason is to preserve the genetic integrity of our Southern Appalachian brook trout," said Doug Besler, cold-water research coordinator.
When fishery technicians begin the 2009 stockings, all 800,000 fish will be sterile or, as they're known to biologists, triploids. About half the fish stocked in 2008 will be triploids. Triploids look and act like non-sterile fish but grow faster. Each year, fishery technicians release hatchery fish into 1,100 miles of hatchery supported waters and into 18 delayed harvest stream segments and lakes managed for catch and release. Martin said only a few reproduce in the wild. Another benefit to stocking sterile trout is that any less hardy hatchery fish that make their way upstream into wild trout sections can't breed with naturalized rainbows and browns and consequently weaken their gene pools. He said the agency until 1970 supplemented wild-trout streams with stocked longer.
"We don't go back to wild trout waters with hatchery fish," he said. Martin said NC might be the Southeastern state to go with sterile trout. Virginia has been experimenting with triploids. Idaho stocks triploid rainbows to protect native cutthroat trout. To create triploids, hatchery workers pressure-treat trout eggs inside a metal chamber. The pressure results in an extra set of chromosomes, three rather than two, thus making the unborn fish sterile. NC WILDLIFE RESOURCES COMMISSION @ 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

In Over My Waders......

......Could it be from the rains of Hurricane Fay, or maybe an unannounced change in the release schedule by the TVA on one of the TVA tailwaters, or perhaps a lapse in judgement of a rock ledge on the New River........actually its none of those.
Its that time of year again, and Fall is a big season for us here at Jeffrey Wilkins Fly Fishing. Fall is the time that many of us celebrate the change of season that brings with it some great colors and scenery, cooler temperatures, fewer of those pesky bugs and no seeums of summer, and great hatches of blue winged olives and rising fish. It ushers in perhaps the beginning of several months of my favorite time of the year....cold weather.
Why? There are fewer anglers. On the worst of days there are sometimes NO other anglers. And often the fish don't care. They still have to eat. Also, there's something in me that just likes to put on tons of fleece, gloves, you name it and go out and catch fish on a day where other folks will say "the odds are against you." Its sort of like being handed the ball at half court with one second on the clock and in position to launch a winning long range jump shot. But even in the most impossible situations those shots do sometimes go in. And so it is with the worst of days. A score is always possible.
When I think of being in "over my waders" I think of the challenges and opportunities of the new year coming. The planning and preparation for a new season begins sometimes several months to a year in advance. In this economy you simply can't wait around and let things happen. what used to take a few weeks to plan and fill like classes and trips now can take months. What used to be easy when "the movie" (a River Runs through IT) came out is now a great challenge....and that is marketing events and pretty much everything I do. Fall is the time when all of our fly fishing schools, classes, trips, pretty much everything that we do all year long has to be brought to completion as far arrangements and plans. So when a class or trip comes about it has been the result of many months of preparation, marketing, and planning. Sometimes when you are or want to be on the water everyday, or several days in a row like it can be when business is good..... it literally feels like "in over my waders."
But you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way.....

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Heading for Home.......

All good things come to an end........after rising early at 5:30am, we all packed into our van and headed down to turn our vehicle in and catch the airport shuttle. All of us were to fly out this morning, Aug 30, and by 6:30 we were all at the airport checking our bags, getting our boarding passes, then through the security checkpoint, and finally to the gate. We had a slight delay as all operations stopped as Vice President Cheney arrived /landed and was shuttled to his destination. Finally we were cleared for boarding. I couldn't pass up the opportunity for one last gander and video clip of the majestic Teton range as I walked from the gate across the tarmac and boarded the plane. In minutes we'd be off for home...and another great trip in the books. Soon I'll be planning and preparing for next year's return, Lord willing.

Fighting a Green River Rainbow....

On our Wyoming 2008 trip we fished the famous Green River midweek. The river is a phenomenal trout stream, and ask any guide in the Jackson Hole or Pinedale area or in this area of Wyoming and they'll likely tell you their favorite stream is the Green. It is a great river and loaded with large fish. And it has many deep GREEN serpentine bends....hence the name. In this video clip Dr. Gary Lee is playing what turned out to be a nice rainbow. Gary later hooked a really nice brown but it came unbuttoned. Out of this deep run we got 3 rainbows, that one large brown, and several whitefish.

Riding out from the Backcountry....

I had forgotten about the incline at the end of our ride out of the backcountry on our trip, but quickly remembered when we reached it and it was time to ride out. Looking down beside you and seeing a 1500 foot drop off is a little unnerving but horses seem to do okay with it. Not to mention that all of this is taking place at 9000 feet. The stream at the bottom of the drop is the Buffalo Fork of the Snake, a fine trout stream.....wild cutthroats all the way to be exact. Its also very lightly fished compared to other area waters......mainly because it takes so long to get to the accessible water.

Arriving in North Fork Meadow...

After about an hour and 15 minute horseback ride from camp, we settled into North Fork Meadow on the North Fork of the Buffalo. Our outfitter Josh Roth had talked up the stream a lot, swearing us to secrecy, and man do we see why now. By the end of the day everyone would call this the "dream stream". We broke up into groups, Pat Burney started in the middle, Munsey and his dad Munsey Sr. went downstream, and Gary Lee, Ken and Gregg Williamson and I went upstream. Everyone pretty much whacked them good, I worked with Gary most of the time and he tallied 60 fish altogether with the largest fish a 17-18" cutthroat that smashed a #10 Schroeder's Parachute Hopper. We caught a mix of cutthroats and brookies. Upstream and downstream of us the guys were getting into cutthroats of 18-20" with a couple or three or four fish caught that were 20" . The best part was the majority of the fish came on dry flies, BIG dry flies. It would be conservative to say we had a 100-150 fish day, all in all it was awesome. And it truly was the "dream stream". We won't say where Josh, .......promise!

Backcountry Breakfast.....

Sleeping under the stars is great, having breakfast by a fire in the meadow deep in the backcountry is even better. Everything tastes better here. From a breakfast casserole over the open fire with eggs, sausage, peppers, eggs, and pepperjack cheese to french toast and link all of it was absolutely delicious and expertly prepared by our outfitter and camp cook Josh Roth. Josh's dutch oven entrees drew the praises of all our guys as we feasted on the well prepared dishes. I usually lose some pounds on our trip because of all the hiking and the dry climate but not this time. I think I maybe picked up a few pounds......great food Josh and thanks again!

Mia the Dog......

Most western outfitters who do horse pack trips into the backcountry wilderness of the West have a dog that comes along. Our Wyoming Sampler is no different. The outfitter we work with on this portion of our trip is Josh Roth, a real cowboy and an outstanding outfitter who really does a great job at what he does. Josh's specialty is horse pack fishing trips in summer and big game hunting trips in fall and early spring. And he's good at it, as our customers raved about on, during, and after this particular trip. And his dog Mia (pronounced My-uh) was an extra touch of entertainment on the trip. From sitting around the fire, to during our meals, and all times in between there she was. She was a real show to be frank. Part blue healer and border collie, she had unbelievable energy and would literally play fetch with a stick or whatever else you would throw for as long as you would stand there and toss the stick for her. She came along on all our horse rides too, running behind, with, and ahead of us on the fringes of the trail, on a seemingly unending adventure jumping over bushes, logs, and chasing whatever crossed her path.....and squirrels were a favorite of hers. The trip was very enjoyable, and having Mia along was a real treat.....and all of my customers loved her.

Soda Fork of the Buffalo.....a "Dream Stream"

All trout water is good in my book, some better than others, and out West its plentiful. Occasionally, though, along comes a stream that seems to define what an ideal stream is. Such is the Soda Fork of the Buffalo. A high alpine tributary to the Snake River, it originates in the Yellowstone backcountry...that is the part of Yellowstone that is totally inaccessible except to those willing to go by foot or horse 9 miles into the backcountry. And that's the minimum. Because of that, you could almost count on two hands the number of fishermen this water sees in a year's time. And it shows. Not only is the river and riparian area clean and pristine, the water teems with big, wild, and willing cutthroats....and lots of them. In our fishing we averaged about a 15-18 inch fish out of every nice run and pool there was. Some of the better bends might cough up three or four of them. The best pools gave up fish of 18-20 inches....and the best part? The fish would eat a size 10 dry fly with reckless abandon. Does it get any better than that?

Riding In 1500 Feet above the Buffalo Fork of the Snake

One of the most thrilling aspects of doing a backcountry trip is some of the incredible scenery along the way, and our Wyoming Trip in August 2008 was no different. One of the best views of the whole trip was the trail ride alongside the Buffalo Fork of the Snake River.....for probably a quarter mile we rode a skinny trail long the edge of a high ridge at probably 9000ft, all the while looking down about 1500 feet to the river , was it ever breathtaking.

Riding into the Wilderness....Turpin Meadows

Our trip began with a ride in on Aug 24, 2008 with a seven mile horseback ride into the backcountry through the beautiful Buffalo Fork River valley and Turpin Meadows. After meeting Josh Roth our outfitter at the trailhead at 9:00am, we packed up the horses and headed in to our final destination- - -a high alpine meadow on the Soda Fork of the Buffalo- - -a stream that after our day of fishing the next day everyone would consider a "dream stream". The ride in had a few thrills, one at the very beginning that is in this video clip- - -and that is riding in over a high ridge with the Buffalo Fork about 1500feet below us. No guardrail, no obstructions.....just a drop off.....and wow what a view it was.

Green River Antelope

Part of our Wyoming trip in 2008 was to fish the Green River near Cora, WY and I drove down to the Warren Bridge area to check out that part of the river prior to our trip here later in the week. I keep a finger on the pulse of all the places we fish through the friends, outfitters, and guides that I work with and through there, but I always like to check things out first hand to confirm the current conditions. Every fall the antelope migrate from all over NW Wyoming down the Hoback Canyon and through the buttes and sagebrush flats and grasslands on their way to their wintering grounds in the Red Desert near Pinedale, WY. They are interesting animals, requiring very little water to live. Go thing too, other than the river you won't find much water in this area. It is a river through a desert.

A Real Life Bullwinkle.....Well, maybe not

As I left Jackson, WY on Friday morning Aug 22 at a little past 5:30am I stopped into Smiths for a cup of strong coffee and a donut and then headed south on 189 toward the Hoback Canyon. I was headed today to sample the upper Hoback Canyon where we would end up fishing near the end of our week in Wyoming. I anticipated red hot dry fly fishing as the hoppers were everywhere. It was 36F when I got out of the van, but surprisingly even that early in the morning red hot dry fly fishing with a hopper is exactly what I the tune of about 25 cutties on top. It was great. An extra treat was seeing this moose on the way in. Actually there were two moose (or is it meese......plural?...who knows but they were big!) and they calmly watched as I went by them. I felt a little nervous as they can be aggressive and are often known to be more dangerous than a grizzly. Fortunately these guys just gave me a look and decided that getting out of the area was a good idea.....what a thrill and what a great thing to have the camera on me.

Whoa.....there's a Buffalo...and another and another....

They are pretty common, at least in this part of the world anyway, but still an interesting animal and always neat to see anytime you encounter them. I encountered this group of bison on my way up to fish the upper Gros Ventre. I had just left Jackson, WY and the rental car place and was headed up the road to Kelly and had just passed the massive Gros Ventre Butte when this large group of bison decided they wanted to cross the highway. And of course, when they decide to go somewhere its a good idea just to get out of the way.......which I promptly did of course.