New 5Rivers Intern

My name is Nicholas Motola and I will be the new intern for the 5Rivers program. I will be helping Andrew out by running the 5Rivers social media pages and the blog. Through this internship, I hope to make new connections with many schools and experts in the fishing industry who share the same passion. It seems that through fishing you meet great people who care about the environment and try to make the world a better place. I look forward to working with many clubs and adding some new clubs to the 5Rivers map!   A little bit about me, I am a senior at SUNY Oswego studying Business Administration and a technology minor. On campus, I am the President/Costa Ambassador for the Oswego Fishing Club. In my free time I like to hunt, camp, snowmobile, play the bass guitar and of course fly fish. Montgomery, New York is home for me which is located at the foothills of the popular Catskill fly fishing region. Popular streams in this area include the East and West Branch of the Delaware River, the Beaverkill River, and the Willowemoc Creek. I found my passion for fishing around the age of 10 catching brown trout and the occasional brookie on these Catskill streams. As fishing played a major role in my life one of the reasons I chose SUNY Oswego is because of the great fishing opportunities in the surrounding area. Being an Eagle Scout, I learned to appreciate nature and that we must give back to the environment to provide for future generations to come.    A little bit about my club, The Oswego Fishing Club was founded in 2013 by Josh Collette and joined the 5Rivers program in the fall of 2016. We have about 20 active members, who contribute greatly to the club’s success. Primarily we fish Lake Ontario tributaries such as the Salmon River and the Oswego River for Salmon, Steelhead, and Brown Trout. As most of the fish we catch are migratory from Lake Ontario, the average trout size is between 18”-32” and the average salmon weight is 20+ lbs making for an unforgettable fight keeping anglers coming back for more! During the winter months we mostly steelhead fish, but the club also does some ice fishing in the Thousand Islands region in New York. As a club we try to do at least 1 out of state trip every semester and fish as much as we can before/after class while also having a trip on the weekend. We are a campus recognized club that participates in many community events such as an annual Thanksgiving dinner for students and residents of the town of Oswego. By giving back to the community as much as possible, we feel like our contributions will help get young anglers started on the footpath for success!  Below is a link to the Oswego Fishing Club Instagram if you would like to learn more about the club.                           https://www.instagram.com/suny_oswego_fishing_club/?hl=en   Feel free to reach out to me anytime and to send in content to be featured on the 5Rivers Instagram and Facebook!                                          - Nick                                                 nmotola@oswego.edu                                                 (845)-800-9757

My name is Nicholas Motola and I will be the new intern for the 5Rivers program. I will be helping Andrew out by running the 5Rivers social media pages and the blog. Through this internship, I hope to make new connections with many schools and experts in the fishing industry who share the same passion. It seems that through fishing you meet great people who care about the environment and try to make the world a better place. I look forward to working with many clubs and adding some new clubs to the 5Rivers map!

 

A little bit about me,

I am a senior at SUNY Oswego studying Business Administration and a technology minor. On campus, I am the President/Costa Ambassador for the Oswego Fishing Club. In my free time I like to hunt, camp, snowmobile, play the bass guitar and of course fly fish. Montgomery, New York is home for me which is located at the foothills of the popular Catskill fly fishing region. Popular streams in this area include the East and West Branch of the Delaware River, the Beaverkill River, and the Willowemoc Creek. I found my passion for fishing around the age of 10 catching brown trout and the occasional brookie on these Catskill streams. As fishing played a major role in my life one of the reasons I chose SUNY Oswego is because of the great fishing opportunities in the surrounding area. Being an Eagle Scout, I learned to appreciate nature and that we must give back to the environment to provide for future generations to come. 

 

A little bit about my club,

The Oswego Fishing Club was founded in 2013 by Josh Collette and joined the 5Rivers program in the fall of 2016. We have about 20 active members, who contribute greatly to the club’s success. Primarily we fish Lake Ontario tributaries such as the Salmon River and the Oswego River for Salmon, Steelhead, and Brown Trout. As most of the fish we catch are migratory from Lake Ontario, the average trout size is between 18”-32” and the average salmon weight is 20+ lbs making for an unforgettable fight keeping anglers coming back for more! During the winter months we mostly steelhead fish, but the club also does some ice fishing in the Thousand Islands region in New York. As a club we try to do at least 1 out of state trip every semester and fish as much as we can before/after class while also having a trip on the weekend. We are a campus recognized club that participates in many community events such as an annual Thanksgiving dinner for students and residents of the town of Oswego. By giving back to the community as much as possible, we feel like our contributions will help get young anglers started on the footpath for success!  Below is a link to the Oswego Fishing Club Instagram if you would like to learn more about the club.

                          https://www.instagram.com/suny_oswego_fishing_club/?hl=en

 

Feel free to reach out to me anytime and to send in content to be featured on the 5Rivers Instagram and Facebook!

                                         - Nick

                                                nmotola@oswego.edu

                                                (845)-800-9757

A Native Odyssey Blog Post 10: Idaho

Public Land:

Mmmm Trout Snack

Mmmm Trout Snack

 

Sawtooth National Forest

     The Sawtooth National Forest encompasses 2,110,408 acres largely in Idaho, but also partially in Utah. It is comprised of multiple terrain types including sagebrush steppe, spruce-fir forests, and alpine tundra. Throughout these terrains there are 3,500 miles of rivers and streams. The area is currently managed by the U.S. Forest Service as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The forest offers visitors multiple recreation options. Over 1,000 miles of hiking trails are available, along with four ski areas, fishing opportunities, and whitewater boating. 81 campgrounds dot the area so it is not hard to find a place to pop up a tent.

-       Matt Crockett

Native Trout:

Austin Holds a Westslope Cutthroat Trout

Austin Holds a Westslope Cutthroat Trout

Westslope cutthroat trout

     These trout were first discovered in 1805, when the Lewis and Clarke expedition took note of their existence. Westslope cutthroat trout (WCT) used to herald the most habitat of all species of cutthroat trout found in the American west, but today they occupy only half of their historical range. Traditional human land uses as well as invasive species have contributed to the decline of the species. However, genetically pure WCT inhabit a few major watersheds where they still persevere. These include the Flathead River in Montana, as well as portions of the Salmon and Priest Rivers in Idaho. These trout have forever been a symbol of the American west, and hopefully we are able to keep it that way.

Bull Trout

A juvenile Bull Trout

A juvenile Bull Trout

     Bull trout, which are actually a species of char, are distributed in the Northern Rockies of the United States. These fish require cold, clean, and clear water to thrive, and can be found in many headwater streams, lakes, and larger river systems such as the Boise River in Idaho. Bull trout are inherently a migratory species, and because of this, culverts, dams, and roads can inhibit their migratory and spawning abilities. Bull trout face many threats from introduced species such as Lake trout and Northern pike, as well as several climate change related impacts. The population of Bull trout in the United States has changed little since 1998, but 60 percent of their current habitat is at risk.

-       Jacob Lacy

Our Experience:

A look at Bull trout. 

     We have now arrived in Idaho in search of the species we have all been waiting for – the big bad Bull trout. Every person we have crossed paths with across our trip that has experienced this trophy species told us tales that we could only dream of. All accounts pointed out that they were big, their appetites were bigger, and they were always eager to eat a fly.

     Our initial Bull trout encounter was unplanned and very exciting. We were fishing the Blackfoot river in Montana in search of Westslope cutthroat trout. We hiked (I scooted) down a huge slope to the Blackfoot river. We came across this crystal blue pool and managed to catch quite a few Westslope cutties. Beautiful 8-12 in. fish, but nothing close to what we saw next. There were 2 foot-plus Bull trout swimming through this pool and our jaws dropped. Their yellow bellies gleamed through the water. Due to high levels of Bull trout protection on the Blackfoot, we could only watch these monsters from the bank.

     The majority of Bull trout water is protected. They are fragmented across the country in an assortment of areas but the ability to plop a fly in front of their nose is highly illegal in most areas. The Yankee Fork provided us with the opportunity to knock Bull trout off our bucket list. We fished a smaller stretch of water, overgrown with vegetation. The entire team managed to catch a few Bull trout on small dry flies.  

     Bull trout were different than any species of trout I have come across yet. They had a slender body, almost like a mullet and were very easy to distinguish from other trout. Mission accomplished. Smaller than predicted, but still exciting nevertheless. 

-     Heather Harkavy 

A Native Odyssey Blog Post 5: Colorado Part 1

Public Land:

Rocky Mountain National Park.

Brett and Jacob look out on Timber Lake. 

Brett and Jacob look out on Timber Lake. 

     Established January 26, 1915, Rocky Mountain National Park was the 10th recognized National Park in the United States. It is the best place in the county for visitors to experience alpine landscapes and tundra. Driving in from Denver (just 2 hours away) allows for visitors to see numerous summits, 78 of which exceed 12,000 ft. elevation. The eastern and western slopes of the Continental Divide cut directly through the park’s 265,461 acres. The northwest region boasts the headwaters of the Colorado River, and this provides anglers the perfect location to pursue Colorado River cutthroat trout. For more information about Rocky Mountain National Park visit https://www.nps.gov/romo/index.htm.

-       Matt Crockett 

Spotting fish in Rocky Mountain National Park. 

Spotting fish in Rocky Mountain National Park. 

Native Trout:

Colorado River Cutthroat Trout.

Jacob releases a gorgeous Colorado River cutthroat. 

Jacob releases a gorgeous Colorado River cutthroat. 

     Colorado River cutthroat trout are one of Colorado’s three native trout species. They are known by the orange or red slash under their chin and their large gradient spots. On the mature fish, bright red flanks are found as well. Colorado River cutthroat trout are a beautiful species that are historically bound by the perimeter of the Escalante River to the west, San Juan to the south, the Continental Divide to the east, and the Green River to the north. Throughout this area, their historical distribution is discontinuous because of warm, large, and sediment rich waters that inhabit the Colorado River basin.

     Populations of Colorado River cutthroat were originally spread out across the Colorado River. An assortment of factors led to the dispersion and lack of connection amongst this species. The issues breaking up Colorado River cutthroat include isolation management, the intrusion of invasive species, and the poor management of land and water. Currently, Colorado River cutthroat trout inhabit small headwater streams and high-elevation lakes.   

     Colorado River cutthroat were believed to have 361 conservation populations that inhabited a total of 2115 miles of stream. As a result of a restoration project gone wrong, Colorado River cutthroat inhabit much more water than studies initially showed. Due to strong similarities in appearance and genetics, Colorado River cutthroat were mistaken for Greenback cutthroat trout. This is good news for the Colorado River cutthroat, but a sad realization for their sister species.

-       Heather Harkavy 

Brett holds his prize from Timber Lake. 

Brett holds his prize from Timber Lake. 

Our Experience

Alpine Angling. 

Proper planning leads to great days chasing fish. 

Proper planning leads to great days chasing fish. 

     For me, the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park serves as a depressing reminder of a place that was once plentiful and true. I can’t help but feel a slight melancholy jab every time I glance upon the headwater meadows of the mighty Colorado River, knowing it will never again complete its journey to the Sea of Cortez. Compounding my melancholy feeling is the fact that whenever I fish in these headwaters I yield nothing but invasive brook trout, as opposed to a once bountiful supply of native Colorado River cutthroat trout.

     When I heard that the “Native Odyssey” trip would be trying to conjure a native cutthroat out of the west side of the park I immediately became apprehensive and wary of new challenges. Although I grew up in Colorado, I never ventured to fish the west side of the park more than I had to, for fear of annoyingly hard to dodge brook trout in once fruitful native trout waters. I knew it would be a challenge finding a Colorado River cutthroat trout haven in this hell of invasive species and mis-managed cutthroat populations. With much work to do in order to find these natives, I immediately gave a call to Rocky Mountain National Park. The park staff pointed me towards a few options, and I ultimately settled on Timber Lake and Timber Creek, which serve as a tributary to the headwaters of the Colorado River.

     Fishing in high mountain lakes is a game of cat and mouse, where the mouse most often eludes the cat. A variety of factors contribute to whether an alpine lake will produce worth-while fishing opportunities. These factors can include ice-off timing, weather, elevation, insect life, and lake depth. Basically, multiple things have to come together perfectly in order to have a good day of high-elevation fishing.

     Luckily for us, everything decided to come together. After our group’s 4.8 mile hike up to an elevation of 11,040 feet, I was a bit depressed to see dirty mounds of snow, swampy shores, and long ice sheets. Usually this signals that the lake is still in thaw mode, and that the fish aren’t as active. For a while this held true as we had only netted a couple of small Colorado River cutthroat, and hadn’t seen any trout cruising the shore in search of a meal. A bit out of sorts, we decided to have lunch, which consisted of turkey wraps and granola bars. Post lunch time took on a Thanksgiving afternoon vibe, as everyone but Andrew and I decided to take a nap on the warm rocks adjacent to the lake.

     As everyone else took a snooze, Andrew and I started working flies along the large ice sheets which still hovered over the lake’s surface. Before I knew it, Andrew had hooked into a decent native, which we netted, photographed, and released. Suddenly, morale shot up, as we had figured out how to conjure these elusive natives out of the depths. With the rest of the group still happily napping, Andrew and I continued to work our small streamers along the thick ice until we had netted and released six gorgeous Colorado River cutthroat. The day had suddenly gone from abysmal to killer. To me, there is absolutely nothing cooler than sight fishing to ruby red native trout, having them chase down your fly, and then watching them swim back to their ancient home. Unfortunately, once everyone else woke up from their siesta, the fishing was not as great and shortly we were prompted off the mountain by an afternoon thunderstorm. The hike back is always a little bit easier when you’ve had the satisfaction of bringing a few native trout to hand.

     What I once viewed as a depressing and melancholy expedition turned out to be an eye opening experience. Having the pleasure of catching, photographing, and releasing Colorado River cutthroat trout in their ancient ancestral home is truly an awesome experience that makes you feel connected to the land. The fact that these fish have an isolated stronghold high up in the mountains gives me solace, as I know the native trout will keep on chugging away at life with little interference... that is, except for the occasional hook I hope to plan