pic of the week

Monday, October 19, 2009

Fall flush 09'...

Grey Reef is a truly fantastic fishery. It has held it own and managed to fair well as a wild trout river. A large part of it's success depends on clean gravel courtesy of the flushing flows. I would love to be sitting here writing about the success of last weeks fall flush. Obviously at this point we all know that didn't happen. I'm writing the following in hopes of maybe getting some outside opinions and maybe a little perspective.
Being involved in the outfitting business and making a living on this particular fishery, it only makes sense to have a FALL and spring flush. For reasons unknown to the common man the fall flush continues to get derailed, postponed, etc. Why is this??? Is it lack of water? Both Pathfinder and Seminoe Reservoirs sit at 70% of capacity, water levels not seen in nearly a decade and Alcova Reservoir must be rid of 10 ft of water before winter sets in. Well if it's not water, maybe it's because of some negative impact to the fish population? The flushing flows on Grey Reef are designed to clean the substrate of fine sediment/silt to improve spawning productivity...that sounds positive to me. I'm sure there is some minor form of mortality with the drastically fluctuating water. Maybe some poor little rainbow gets pushed into the path of a 10lb. brown trout and we know how that one ends. But seriously, regarding impact of a flush the positives (mainly increased spawning) out weigh the negatives.
I have made numerous phone calls, had various discussions with folks involved in the flushing process in the past week. I have yet to hear anything worthwhile in regards to why it did not happen. Last year it was bridge construction and this time, gate malfunction. Now I'm not calling bull shit but come on, really? I'm pretty sure there's 31 days in the month of October and somewhere around 30 in November. There's no reason it couldn't happen this week or maybe the next... We had a moisture laden year and there is no question as far as the silt buildup this season. We need a fall flush!!
In closing, it has become increasingly apparent that both the fishing and guiding community surrounding Grey Reef doesn't have a voice. Our opinions and feelings towards this fantastic fishery continually get overlooked. What's it going to take?
I hope to get some responses.


Montana Teal said...

US department of Interior/Bureau of Reclamation have forgotten that they work for the people. They have forgotten that if it weren't for the people they would not have jobs. They have also assumed the philosophy they know what is best and right and that the people do not. This is not a local problem; this is a country problem that starts in Washington DC. (This is not a Republican or Democratic problem either. Although, there are way more liberals in the department of interior than conservatives.)
It has to do with the separation of government and the people. Even our current administration with its "transparency promise" will not be able to break this 30 year trend.
It will only be the people who can break this trend. Petitions with a specific topic (Flushes of the North Platte River drainage in Wyoming) with signatures backing the support will get the attention of those in power to hear the voice of the people.
This would take all outfitters to ask for signatures of a specific topic and then submit as a whole.
Why the Outfitters you ask? You are the ones who have access to the voice of the people. You have the access to the target signatures thru clients, walk-ins, shows and e-mails.
You would also be wise to ask for a meeting with the Game and Fish prior to your meeting with the Bureau of reclamation to show them your signatures and ask them to support you in your quest since they are state and you’re asking federal.
Lastly, when you have your meeting with the Bureau of Reclamation, send copies of your request to any and all key personnel above the ones which come to your meeting. This will ensure they knew of the meeting and the request of the people. Now, bug them, bug them, bug them.
Just my humble opinion.

brownmon said...

Hey Trent, I am not in favor of a fall flush or at least the timing of the flush. Here's my thoughts: 1.many rainbow fry are killed during the fall flush 2.rainbow fry need the decaying vegetation for food and cover during the winter months. With a clean river bottom, where will the rainbow fry hideout during the winter? 3.And lastly, the most important for me and why I complained to the biologists and asked them to stop the fall flushings....I watched several nice browns spawn in an area around....lets say bessemer, and the very next week here come the flushings...all brown spawn was killed for that year. No one stands up the browns in the river anymore...G&F have not and will not stock browns in the Platte. If you must fall flush...do it before the browns spawn. What's the story on the TFO rods? Paul

The Reef Fly Shop said...

What do you mean by what's the story with the TFO rods?
I don't think that Trent or myself disagree about protecting the browns. We love them and are brown advocates.
But, I have seen...for years ...brown redds surviving the flush. I'm not saying that some redds will not be destroyed but my experience is that they do well. This spring the flush happened on the 10th of April or around that time. High time for rainbow spawning. We were all very concerned about the effects on the 2009 rainbow class. Then the BuRec dropped flows in May and left some redds high and dry...which is common. We had gobs of little 2009ers this fall. The other thing is that browns typically build their redds(on this river) in locations that aren't as vulnerable as rainbow redds. The one argument that could be made is that they like the tops of runs in the fast water and these areas might be more subject to damage with increased water speeds/flows.
The flush doesn't remove all the vegetation. It does remove most of the floating/rotting beds. I don't disagree with the points that you brought up Paul. I just see it a little different.

Montana Teal
Good points. Outfitters are exactly who most of public employees don't want to hear from. They feel we have agendas that are perpendicular to theirs. In reality we don't, but we do struggle with certain points.
They use the science of formulas and we use the science of everyday experience. IF there was some way to combine those we would be leaps and bounds ahead. Lewis and Clark didn't try to get over the mountains without a guide, even though they had all the scientific tools. I think there could be far different results in official fish counts if the guys knew where to go to find certain fish. In August you won't find big numbers of young fish in the runs with the bigger fish for example. I'm sure there are times that we poo-poo game and fish stats that are accurate. This struggle won't ever go away. It is the nature of the beast.