A Different Sort of Fishing

A Different Sort of Fishing

By Jocelyn Mertens

On July 11, the Colorado Division of Wildlife and the Cutthroat Trout Unlimited Crew collaborated to rescue fish on 4 Mile Creek above Deckers. Water levels are down, and water temperatures are up, making for rough conditions for the fish. Jeff Spohn, aquatic biologist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), hatched a plan to use our TU manpower to help move the fish to the Platte for safety.

 

        

 CPW technicians “Electrofishing”

     Spohn, our fearless Division of Wildlife leader, divided 4 Mile Creek into upper and lower sections above and below the bridge. The first group on the lower creek had great success under CPW technician Scott. CPW technician Andrew’s group followed Scott’s with the “Second Pass” doing just as much work for a lot less fish n’ glory. Spohn led the Upper group to the greatest numbers of baby HoferCrosses and other species. Paul from CPW led the “Second Pass”. The whole process was certainly noisier than fly-fishing and yet hypnotic in a similar way: The sweep of the electrode, the constant lookout, the pursuit, the net, and a fleeting thrill with each little glinting fry.
Our CPW guys led the charge with their “shock backpacks”. They looked strangely like Transformers and we half expected them to lift off the ground into the sky. We were all glad we didn’t have to heft those loads but we didn’t hear any complaints from them. The motors sound like a weedwacker on caffeine. Each Fish Stunner had two TU Bucket Mates trailing to accommodate the netted fish. The terrain was varied, the creek narrow. There was some thrashing through the willows, paired with mosquito swatting. Sometimes the banks were pretty steep which is always a calamity in waders. Rasmussen was kind enough to lend me his hip boots. He’s a size 10 and my feet are 7.5 ladies so I felt oddly like a clown, especially since I was carrying a bucket of water (think Fireman Clown…). Until recently, fishing has not been known for high fashion but I was, literally, stunning.
Jim Rasmussen and Kris Buros were at the helm of our lower creek truck, ferrying buckets of cool water from the tank. They were the keepers of the count from each bucket. Most of the take were 1-3 inch fish, but a few larger browns were netted. When the Browns were placed in the tank with the fingerlings, we saw first hand the meaning of the phrase “small fry”! We were all intent on rescuing the young HoferCrosses, a strain of Bavarian trout crossed with a Cutthroat, that’s resistant to Whirling Disease. They’re kind of like Piscean prodigal sons, starting as American rainbows and evolving on farms in Germany only to return to their homeland.
Aside from fish the day was interesting from a naturalist’s standpoint. One bucket brigand whose name will go unmentioned ( John) was munching raspberries. Then, I wondered why I suddenly wanted a Mojito when I realized the wild mint scent was surrounding us as our boots tromped through. The foe of poison ivy rested innocently here and there, waiting for a brush with unwary skin. Stinging nettles: self-explanatory. Flowers greeted us at every bend, as the fingerlings darted under rocks and cress. Insects, some silent, some obnoxiously buzzing, added to the summer bounty. A different kind of fishing trip, indeed, with the same perils and beauties we remember over time. And we can brag that we caught over 3,000 fish.

 

 Cutthroat Chapter members participating in days work; Jocelyn Mertens, Bill Wiebesiek, Dereck Hankins,Kriss Buros, John Roenfeldt, Adam Beede, John Aaron, Jim Long, Duane Van de Venter, Andrew Medina, Jim Rasmussen