It's All About Habitat

Having wrapped up a week of backcountry fly fishing, it's time to reflect on the many lessons learned along the way (if you aren't learning, you aren't really fishing are you?)

The number one lesson I took away from this adventure is that habitat is the number one factor that influences the quality of the fish, and fishing. It's no different than deer hunting, bass fishing, or anything else. But the picture comes into clear focus when you actually get out on different waters, and can contrast for yourself the experiences from one river to another.

What makes a trout stream great?

Location is part of it. Naturally, the further afield and the more remote you get, the better it gets. The more you distance yourself from the pressures applied by other anglers, the more likely trout are eat dry flies. It's just that simple. I am 100 percent convinced that the rivers where you have to use tiny little nymphs all the time are that way because the trout that live there see a lot of flies.

But the health of a trout population--the robust nature of the fish, and the volume of trout in a river--depends the quality of their habitat for spawning, protection, and forage. Good habitat can transcend most factors.

That all came into clear focus yesterday when we chanced upon a restored stream (where the habitat was great) and caught Rio Grande cutthroats up to 16 inches long... and growing. If there is habitat, they will grow.

Which naturally leads to the work Trout Unlimited does... part of this trip was about finding and experiencing fish, the other, more important part was tuning into the challenges posed to these fish by way of threats to their habitat as a result of public land leases for oil and gas production. I encourage all of you to join and work with TU in protecting the fisheries that give us all something to blog and talk about on Fly Talk.

Lastly, here's a hint for anyone looking for a Colorado trout expedition of their own. The area around South Fork, Colorado, is teeming with great opportunity... some of the best in America. Whether you want to catch 20-inch browns or native cutts in the high country, you can do it here. I could spend another month and not begin to scratch the surface of what is available in this stunningly beautiful region. The Riverbend Resort is an affordable and centrally-located place to set up your base by cabin or RV. Tell Dan I sent you... Then get out there and hook 'em up.

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