Our next meeting is scheduled for August 14th, Place TBD
At a Glance:
We can do no more than what we can do. This is what I tell myself in these busy times. Hello to all my fellow GAS’ers. I am writing this in one of the busiest summers I can remember, personally. It has been a remarkable year for many reasons. The biggest of which for the trout is the low precipitation. For many of you here in the valley you can recall that after a lackluster winter we had virtually no rain from April 7 to the first week of June and even then it was an afternoon shower. It has not been until the last two weeks when the monsoon finally kicked in that we have noted clouds in the sky. It really has been that bad. And now I am told dry air from the north is going to push the sweet wet monsoonal flow to the South and East. But I must remind myself that this is a land defined by a lack of water, not an abundance. There is a reason why we have a sage dominated landscape.
This drought is a big one and has had varying impacts on different streams. As you may recall the last two major droughts were in 2002 and 2012. In some cases, 2018 is worse than both. One section of Tomichi Creek, for example, was measured at just 5 cfs before the last week of rain. That right 5 cfs! This is a creek where the median flows for this time of year is around 150 cfs. As you may know, we started our Adopt-A-Trout program in part as a response to the 2012 drought on Tomichi. Once again we witness a creek and wild trout punished by circumstance. We should, however, get some interesting data from the 2000 new trout we tagged this spring (see more on AAT Bellow). There is currently a voluntary fishing closure on Tomichi and we surely will not be fishing Tomichi in the Superfly contest this year. Tomichi, by the way, produced the biggest fish I have seen in the Superfly a 26-inch rainbow.
We are coming off of about 4 years of average to above average water in the basin. This may have lulled folks into some complacency but there is nothing like a crisis to raise awareness. So in this vein, I am excited to tell you about all that GAS is doing and ask that there is no greater need than now for supporters. I want to hear from you if not in person at our next meeting August 14 then drop me a line. I want to hear from you, the eyes and ears on the ground, what impacts you have seen from this low water year. Are there areas or issues that you are particularly concerned about? Or do you have ideas about how to better engage the membership? This information is important to me and will go a long way in helping GAS with our mission of Protect*Conserve*Restore trout waters in the Gunnison Basin.
Briant Wiles, President
This time of year most of our efforts are focused on hosting the Superfly contest. This is our largest fundraiser of the year and a long-standing tradition. So I am proud to present the 29 annual Superfly September 7 and 8 in Almont Colorado. This year we will dedicate a large portion of proceeds to the new North Bridge river access (see more below). I am not going to mince words here; I am worried about the event. First, with the low flows, we are already anticipating not having the amount of private water that we have had in years past. Tomichi is definitely out and at this point, I do not think we can count on the usually amazing water on the East River. We are trying to find more water on the Taylor but I was recently informed that they are planning on dropping the flow from Taylor reservoir to 100 cfs on the first of September if not earlier. The Gunnison would become a trickle of about 150cfs. 100 cfs on the Taylor is not going to make many fish or fisherman happy. So what do we do? We have theorized several alternatives including alpine streams and lakes. Suggestions? Either way, we are determined to not compromise our ethics of not fishing for trout in high water temperature conditions.
Second, the Almont resort, our defacto home has suffered a set back when a vehicle rammed into the newly remolded kitchen wrecking the place and sending two longtime employees to the hospital with burns from the resulting grease fire. They are not sure if they will be reopened in time for the Superfly. I am scouting for alternative locations for the event. Please send good thoughts to those injured in this horrible accident.
On the plus side, we have gotten a good and a lot of good response from sponsors willing to donate to the event. Our poster is pretty slick and we have distributed more already than we did all of last year. This includes strategic marketing on the Front Range. We have had between 7-8 teams the three years I have been involved with the event. I am shooting for 15 teams this year. Not a record but would mark a considerable improvement over last year. Also, we have the new Simms shirts and hats ordered. We spent considerably less on them this year but they are still very sharp looking. We took the step of removing the date from both the shirts and hats so that it will be easier to sell any extras later and in the unlikely event that the Superfly will be postponed we will have them for next year
In other news, we have decided to re-work our old logo. It is essentially the same but just updated to bring us into the 21 century. We plan to have it printed on T-shirts and sweatshirts that we can then sell to raise money for GAS. Look for them to be available for a donation on the website.
The 2018 CTU Youth Camp came to Gunnison this year. From all reports, it was a success. We sponsored 14-year-old Maddie of Gunnison to attend the camp this year.
We also lined up a Conservation Project for the campers. As you may know, we have pledged 300 hours of volunteer time to the ongoing Gunnison River Project. So with help from the campers, we were able to plant willows and cottonwoods near the Wilson diversion to revegetate one of the construction sites.
One of the projects that we are very pleased to be a part of is the new river access point on the Gunnison River. For years GAS members have raised concerns over the condition of the North Bridge put in. Tight parking, steep ramps, and trash are some of the more common issues identified. But due to its location on a CDOT right away improvements were pretty much off the table. So when a parcel came up for sale across the street and just upstream from Garlic Mikes restaurant the county jumped at the opportunity. The county purchased the property earlier this spring and is now in the planning process to develop the 11-acre site into a proper put in. We fill that maintain river access on the Gunnison River is very important to local anglers. Not only will there be a permanent access point with a 1000 ft. of river frontage but will also help shape users relationship to the river and the trout. We want to sponsor signage at the put in that will educate river users about the resource. Right now the county needs to find $3000 to get an environmental assessment completed before they can move forward with the development. They have approached GAS to help with the cost. While GAS may not have the means to foot the entire bill we fill that we can contribute to this piece of the project. With that in mind, we are going to use some of the funds raised at this year’s Superfly contest to help with the environmental assessment and then hopefully erect the kiosks/ signage at the put in. The county does not have a timeline for the work yet but believes it will be at least a year before it opens to the public. Recently, with volunteers from the Can’ed Aid Foundation, we cleaned up an impressive amount of trash.
Phase one of the Gunnison River Project was completed last fall and it looks great. Phase two of the project is scheduled to get going this coming fall. GAS has pledged 300 hours to the project. So far this year we have put in 123 hours of volunteer time into replanting riparian vegetation at work sites. Look for more opportunities to volunteer here soon.
Tomichi Creek is in trouble with the low water. Temps on the creek have been getting well above 70 degrees during the afternoon. As I mentioned above there is a voluntary fishing closure on Tomichi.
There is now a new temp gage on the Taylor River. By monitoring water temps you can really get a pulse of the health of the river. So it will be interesting to see what happens to the temps when they cut the flows to 100 cfs. The Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District says that they are also concerned about the water temps and fish health. They have said that they will ask the Bureau of Reclamation to release more water if they fill the trout are being impacted. We will also be monitoring the situation and will be speaking up about conditions.
Thanks to our new Conservation Coordinator Bill Ketterhagen we have recently submitted a grant application to work on a diversion structure on Tomichi Creek. I will keep you up to date when we learn the results.
We have helped tag 2000 trout in both Tomichi and Cochetopa Creeks this spring in cooperation with Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Bureau of Land Management. We used passive tags this time so there is no battery that will run out of juice. GAS has chipped in and Purchased an array. The array lives at the bottom of the creek and records the fish as it passes over it. The array cost $3,200 of GAS funds. Unlike the $6000 plus that we spent on the radio tags in the first round of AAT the new array can be used over and over again. We have already been talking about future trout tracking projects. This also helps ensure that AAT is not going to go away any time soon. We had a couple of different high school classes that came out for the tagging and we plan to continue our education program in the fall. If you have any interest in helping with this wonderful project we sorely need some help. So consider signing on as our education coordinator.