My two cents on fly fishing, the Truckee River and fisheries science.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Since I learned about Independence Lake and its significance in the landscape, I have been compelled to try and help the many agencies that are making a difference up there. Last weekend we were up at IL with the UNR American Fisheries Society to enjoy the lake and get some work done. Of course, I forgot my camera on the trip to upper Independence Creek, by far the most impressive portion of the basin, so I only have pictures stolen from the UNR AFS Facebook page, but I will say that it reminded me of the many Alaskan streams I crossed a few years ago. There was a real sense of wildness to the creek and you couldn't help but feel like you were among the special few who have ventured into this place. Maybe I'm just being nostalgic, but it is definitely a place worth visiting.
The fishing at IL seems like it would be easier than it was due t the relative lack of angler visitation, but I managed to get skunked two weeks in a row. It had recently snowed the first week I was there, but the temps were warm and the lake was putting off a low fog throughout the day. The fog made for a surreal experience in the morning and gave a sort of mystical quality to the water throughout the day as the fog hugged the surface of the lake in the windless bays.
My wife and I fished most of the afternoon and she was the only one to catch anything. I blame this on the fact that I gave her my best flies and spent the majority of my time teaching her ow to cast. The reality is that I always get spanked when I teach her a new hobby; It happened with rock climbing too. Regardless of who caught fish, I was happy to see some healthy Mountain Whitefish in the lake, but disappointed that I never got to see the LCT that make the lake such a unique place to be. For those of you that don't know, Independence Lake is one of only two places in the world where a surviving and naturally reproducing population of original Lahontan cutthroats still exist. The native fish assemblage of the ancient Lake Lahontan still exists in the lake and only crayfish, Kokanee salmon, Brooks and Brown trout spoil the lake from its ancient composition. I think it's sad that the list is that long, but The Nature Conservancy and USGS are doing some great things to try and shorten that list.
One of the many things that The Nature Conservancy is doing to try and keep the list of introductions short is offering motorized boats every other week and unpowered craft, like kayaks and pontoon boats, every week from when they open in the Spring to November 1st. I think I planned my choice of boats unwisely when I visited IL. I used the motor boat on the calm weekend and chose a cold and windy weekend to try fishing from a kayak for the first time. If I had to do it all over again, I probably would have just hiked to upper Independence Creek on the windy day and given up fishing all together. On second thought, I never give up a chance to fish, even if the wind is howling and there is no way I'm going to catch a fish. After all, I like fishing for the somewhat ridiculous notion that I have the ability to tie a fly that looks good enough to fool a fish into believing it's the real thing. Catching fish is just a bonus on top of being able to enjoy the amazing rivers and lakes that are out there.