Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Fly-fishing contest to benefit river work

Trout Unlimited and partners seek to restore Big Wood habitat

Several entities are cooperating to fund research on how to restore parts of the Big Wood River ecosystem. Express file photo

    In early August, Trout Unlimited will hold a trout-fishing contest to raise money for restoration work on the Big Wood River.
    Twenty teams of two people will compete in the Big Wood River Single Fly event, Aug. 2-3, for most trout caught with bonuses for large fish. The registration fee is $1,000 per team, and covers a welcome dinner Saturday, and fishing, lunch and an awards dinner Sunday.
    “The Big Wood River is the lifeblood of the Wood River Valley. Residents and visitors depend on the river for recreation, agricultural and municipal purposes,” said Chad Chorney, Big Wood River project manager for Trout Unlimited. “Today, the river faces many threats—reduced stream flows, altered floodplains, habitat lost and disconnected tributaries. TU and the Wood River Land Trust are partnering to restore the glory of this iconic Western trout fishery while protecting the sense of community that has developed around it.”
    The first phase of the initiative is a comprehensive assessment of the river system, based on data collection already underway by a team of Trout Unlimited scientists and the U.S. Geological Survey. Once complete, the assessment will be used to develop and prioritize restoration efforts such as habitat improvements, tributary improvements and development of responsible land- and water-use plans.
    In mid-May, scientists from the USGS installed water temperature sensors at seven sites in the Big Wood River and its tributaries. They will visit the same sites in early September to collect water-quality and biological samples, including fish and insects.
    Chorney said the TU scientists are collecting information on habitat quality and floodplain activity on the river, beginning with the stretch between North Fork and the confluence with Warm Springs Creek. He said that effort will continue through next spring.

Anglers can not only enjoy the river’s wild trout fishery, but be a part of sustaining the Big Wood.”
Chad Chorney
Trout Unlimited

    Chorney said the USGS is paying for half the $106,000 cost of its work, and the two nonprofit organizations along with The Nature Conservancy will fund the remainder. He said the BLM is contributing $50,000 toward data collection and analysis for a six-mile stretch of public land along the river north of Ketchum.
    “We decided we could pool our resources and collect the river information that everybody’s interested in,” he said.
    Chorney said the project will incorporate data collected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric administration’s LIDAR (light detection and ranging) system to examine the river’s geomorphology. The system uses laser pulses sent by plane or helicopter overflights to accurately measure the earth’s surface.
    He said that once all that data is gathered, the organizations will have to figure out how they want to use it to do restoration work on the watershed. He said the money raised during the August fishing contest will go toward that work.
    “The inaugural Big Wood Single Fly event will gather anglers on the river in a fun, lighthearted setting while shedding light on threats that the river currently faces,” Chorney said. “By participating in the Big Wood Single Fly, anglers can not only enjoy the river’s wild trout fishery, but be a part of sustaining the Big Wood for future generations.”
    Silent auction and raffle items will be available for bid and purchase.
    Basic rules of the contest are: One fly per angler. One point per trout caught and released, added to the total inches of two measured trout. A “big trout bonus” of five points for a trout 15-17 inches and a “super trout bonus” of 10 points for a trout longer than 17 inches. Visit for more information, registration and complete rules.

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