It’s an old axiom that the farther “off the beaten path” an angler goes, the better fishing that angler will find. Being willing to use your feet to put the crowds behind you is the real key to finding trout that eagerly eat dry flies.
But having those areas that are accessible only by foot is important to all anglers, whether you’re an intrepid hiker or not. All anglers (and hunters) win with roadless areas, and fly fishing as we know it really depends on roadless wilderness.
Let’s remember that it’s called it a “beaten” path for a reason. In a culture where we wrangle over parking spots that get us 50 feet closer to the door at Wal-Mart–and while there’s still appeal (for some) to the notions of “taming wild places” and “opening up the West”–it is difficult to impress upon many that the best way to honor and appreciate wild places is to leave them alone.
This is especially true in Colorado. Here, 12 of the 15 most hunted game management units (the most productive ones) have over 100,000 acres of roadless wilderness. More than 70 percent of Colorado River Cutthroat trout habitat is in roadless areas.
Build roads in these areas, and the elk migrations are hindered, the mule deer populations suffer, and the trout spawning habitat is negatively impacted. That means less hunting and fishing opportunity.
The United States Department of Agriculture is now considering the future of roadless areas in Colorado. For the next two days (before July 14th), the public can comment in favor or preserving roadless areas. You can click here to learn more about roadless issues from Colorado Trout Unlimited. You’ll also find links to make comments to USDA.
It’s worth a couple minutes of your time, whether you live in Colorado or plan on visiting. Access to wild places is a great thing. But how we access those places might well be the key to just how wild they stay for future generations.