Our TU Chapter Trip out West, Summer 2005

Here is Den Mora's report from the trip ...

Mike Wilson, Al Kahoun, Bill McNamarra, Mark Munn, Tom Frank and myself went out west on a fishing trip in mid July. We flew into Salt Lake City and headed north to the Henry's Fork in Idaho. We fished the river in St. Anthony's the first evening. Everyone caught fish, Rainbows and Browns. Nothing big, but fish nonetheless. The next morning we headed towards Yellowstone Park. We fished the Henry's Fork at the Harriman's Ranch and Box Canyon. Beautiful water, but very tough fishing. Mike was the only one to catch anything, a Rainbow I believe.

from left to right, Bill McNamarra, Mark Munn, Denis Mora, Mike Wilson, Al Kahoun and Tom Frank

Wyoming has a program designed to increase the awareness of the problems facing Cutthroat Trout in the state. The program is called Cutt Slam. How it works is a fisherman has to catch four of the subspecies of Cutthroat Trout in Wyoming, in their native watersheds. Once one completes the slam, the state issues a certificate honoring the fisherman. The subspecies include the Yellowstone Cutt, the Snake River Cutt (aka Finespotted Cutt), the Bonneville Cutt (aka Bear River Cutt) and the Colorado Cutt. In the park we fished for Yellowstone Cutts. Yellowstone Cutts seem to be doing well in most areas. The main concern is in Yellowstone Lake itself. Lake Trout, a nonnative were introduced in the lake some years ago. Lake Trout feed heavily on the Cutthroat , threatening the future of Cutts in the lake system.

We first fished the northeast corner of the park. Several fish were caught on Soda Butte Creek including a few fish 14 to 16 inches. We had a bear walking around, near us, but he just went about doing his own thing. We then left for Slough Creek, where we caught a few fish including a 17 inch Cuttbow. Day 2 in the park we fished the Gibbon River, where we managed about a dozen fish. All Browns and Brooks. We then did the tourist thing and visited Old Faithful. Day 3 in the park found us hiking out to Cascade Lake. Cascade Lake has Cutts and Grayling. The lake didn't disappoint us, with the group catching over 30 fish. I wasn't able to catch my Grayling, but I had a great time. We had a cow Moose about twenty yards away from us, an otter swimming around the lake and an Osprey caught a Trout near us. Each night after dinner we fished the Yellowstone River, where we managed to catch quite a few Yellowstone cutts. Including several in the 16 to 18 inch range. Having our Yellowstone Cutts for the Slam, day 4 found us heading South out of the park for our Snake River Cutts. Stopping in Jackson Hole, we had lunch and hit Jack Dennis' Fly Shop. Then we drove to Alpine where we checked in and headed out to the Little Grey's River. We caught quite a few Snake River Cutts before we called it a night. The population of Snake River Cutts seem to be doing very well. The next morning found us on the same stretch trying for one more of the Snake River Cutts, which we managed to get after about an hour. Leaving Alpine, we continued south towards Kemmerer. Along the way we stopped to fish the Smith's Fork for Bear River Cutts.(Bear River Cutts are now found in only 5% of their native waters). The Smiths Fork lies mostly in ranchland, it's headwaters are up a long dirt road, which we declined to drive up. We found a piece of public land to fish in the lower section. This stream provided us with good fishing, as most of us managed to get our Bear River Cutts along with a few Brown Trout, including an 18 incher. Leaving the Smith's fork we headed to Cokeville for fuel and dinner. We ate our dinner at 11:00pm and finished our drive to Kemmerer. We called the motel manager to tell him we would be arriving after midnight. He taped our keys to the office door. It was too late for him. We got in our rooms and slept in the next morning, till around seven. Then went to breakfast and shopped for fossils in town. Fossils are abundant in this part of the Green River drainage. The entire area was under water millions of years ago. After the fossil shopping spree, we went to the Green River for the last fish in the Cutt Slam, the Colorado River Cutt. The Green River is the largest tributary to the Colorado River and Colorado River Cutts are native to it. We managed to pull out a couple of fish in about an hour, including the nicest fish of the trip, an 18+ inch Cutt. for Tom. Mark and Tom now had their Slams completed. Things slowed down and we decided to try another area to fish. At our car we were approached by Game Warden Duane Kerr. While talking with Duane, we mentioned that we were pursuing the Cutt Slam and that 2 of from our group had just completed it with the trout they had just caught. He looked at us kind of funny and informed us that the fish in the Green River were Snake River Cutts that were planted in this system. Mark and Tom would have to continue in the quest. I felt so bad for them. For some reason we assumed that Cutts caught in a particular drainage would be the subspecies native to that drainage. But again, the program is designed to educate the public of the problems facing the Cutts. Colorado Cutts are found in only 1% of their native drainage. This is mostly due to competition from introduced species, especially our beloved fish, the Brook Trout. The jewel of the east can be the bane of the west, at least for native species. Brook Trout are fall spawners. Cutts are spring spawners. This means the Brook Trout hatch earlier in the year than Cutts. This enables Brookies to out compete the Cutts for food. Anyway, Duane set us straight on where we might be able to catch a few Colorado River Cutts. He thought there might be some it the South LaBarge Creek. This would be our only shot so late in the trip. The S. LaBarge flows into the LaBarge River before it flows into the Green River. The Brook Trout problem is currently being addressed by the Game and Fish Dept. in the LaBarge watershed. They're poisoning the water. From what I understand the potency of the poisons being used are short term and dilute very quickly. Once the fish are all removed native Cutts will be reintroduced. The South LaBarge did have a few Cutts in it and Mike and I managed to complete our slams with these fish. This is something he and I have talked about since our last trip to Wyoming.

What a trip. The scenery was spectacular. The wildlife included: Bison, Elk, Deer, Moose, Bear, Eagles, Ospreys, Pelicans, Coyotes, Hares, Pine Martin, Red Fox, Ground Squirrels, Marmots, Sandhill Cranes and oh yes, even Magpies. Everyone seemed to have a good time. Although each one of us struggled at catching fish at one time or another. But spending the time out west with a great bunch of friends and not a care in the world made it the best trip I've ever had. Sometimes we forget that it's not all about catching fish. It's about life and the many things including friendships that make a trip special. I'm sure the future will bring more adventures. I look forward to sharing them with you.

Den Mora

A sampling of photos from the trip out West ...


September 12, 2005
photos (c) by Denis Mora, Mike Wilson

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