December 21, 2012
2013: The Year of the Native Trout
By Kirk Deeter
After reading your input to our "Crowdsourcing" post we did a little while ago, we've decided to say 2013 will be "The Year of the Native Trout." There were plenty of votes for salmon, smallmouth bass (the photo in that post was indeed a smallmouth bass in Lake Michigan), and bluegills. But many of you clearly indicated respect for native trout among your favorite species and most memorable adventures from last year.
For example, one of you wrote that your favorite 2012 moment was: "Casting a streamer at a large cutthroat several times only to miss the hook-set each time. I backed off for 10 minutes and fished other waters before returning. On the first cast after the 10-minute break, the fish struck, and I had a good fight going when I the fly came out of the water and I watched the fish turn into the current and out of my life."
Kudos to the author of that one for the eloquent understanding that you don't have to land the fish to relish the moment. The only thing I'd suggest is that that cutthroat will be part of your angling life (and lore) for years. I hope you go back and catch it in 2013.
Let's face it, 2012 was a landmark year for native trout. From the Gila trout in New Mexico that were impacted by massive wildfires, to our understanding that what may be the only population of "true" greenbacks is now living in a threatened environment, to the brook trout recovering in many eastern rivers, the focus on the importance of native species has never been clearer. We should endeavor to do more in 2013. For starters, make a resolution, if you can, to try to catch at least one native trout in its home river this year. And if you want to learn more about native trout and perhaps offer support, check out the Western Native Trout Initiative.
Back to your input on the other questions...
I was happy to see that fans of carp fishing outnumbered the detractors by more than a 2-to-1 margin. The reasons you gave included "the challenge," "the fight/power," and the fact that they are so "accessible." One reader's favorite moment was the catching of a 20-pound mirror carp somewhere in Idaho, but the reader wouldn't say where. Can't say I blame you, since a number of others said their favorite carp fishing moments involved a bow and arrow.
Muskies got a fair deal of attention, especially when it came to your 2012 highlights. Here is one of my favorite comments: "Watching my girlfriend's face the moment she realized she had a muskie on her line."
I was also touched to read: "My dad caught a 50-inch muskie fishing with me on Father's Day. It was the biggest fish of his life. After I netted it, I don't know who was more excited, me or my dad."
The thing that really sunk in with me was that many of your favorite moments revolved around people, as much or more so than the fish. That's often true for me too. I hope you all enjoy the holidays with the people you are close to and share some great adventures next year. We'll be asking more questions down the road.