Locally, there is plenty of snow pack in the bushy valley bottoms, along the creeks that are home to wild trout. By April, the snow and ice will start to melt and flow into the streams. Thus starts the spring thaw. It feels like a time of rejuvenation and the warmer days are welcomed, after a long cold winter. It is also a good time to whatch the water in local streams.
I love to see the first flows of water, over an ice covered creek. The warmer water quickly cuts a new channel in the surface of the ice, and the melting ice cover is thawed thru in days.
The water table was good this past season and it will be good when the stream channels open up. Combined with a good melt, there looks to be plenty of good flow this next spring. I am hoping that the brown trout eggs in Bighill Creek, start to hatch in May, or emerge from the gravel. It takes some pretty clean water, though out the winter months, for the eggs to hatch.
We already know that there was a successful hatch of brook trout, on Millennium Creek, so we are off to a good start for the new year. There is one more important small spring creek trout hatch, which I expect will also be a successful one, with the safe and healthy incubation of trout eggs, in the spawning beds. I am happy to stay optimistic about the health and well being of our local trout populations.
The Beloved Brook Trout
Don’t let anyone tell you how terrible the brook trout is! “Brookies”, as we call them, are a lovely trout to fly fish for, or just admire. They occupy the smaller trout streams in our area. Headwater tributaries that flow east from the Rockies, are their well known home waters. Where ever the spring water upwells from the ground, in volume, there will usually be brook trout. I agree with the eradication of brook trout in waters presently occupied by our native cutthroat trout, but where cutthroat trout cannot survive, brook trout can.
The lure of fly fishing beaver dams on small east slopes streams is fixated in my memory, and I am not the only one. Plenty of times I would fly fish with a friend for friends, on beaver dams that held plenty of brook trout. The nice thing about fly fishing beaver dams, is that there is enough room for two or three fly fishers, if there are enough beaver dams to provide the right conditions to allow lots of water to fish.
Brook trout are real survivors, their proximity to clean, cold ground water, makes them an ideal variety of trout for survival. All we, as humans, need to do, is protect our small streams. Headwater riparian zones are also unique wildlife habitats for other birds and animals. Beavers are usually left to eat themselves out of a place to live, over time. Then the stream recovers and the process starts over again. Bighill Creek is the same way, but the beavers are managed to keep the riparian habitat.
The two main tributaries where trout spawn are pretty consistent, but Ranch House Spring Creek is the exception. The storm drain has pretty much destroyed this spawning tributary to the Bighill Creek. There is an important lesson to be learned here. If the importance of Ranch House Spring Creek to the fishery was known at the time, the planning for the storm drain would have been different, and the trout would still live in the creek.