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Brook trout and clean water
Worth fighting for
While doing some research recently, I revisited Cool, Clear Water is Key for the Brook Trout’s Future by Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources’ Molly Kirk in Virginia Wildlife. It’s a wide-ranging look at the challenges faced by Virginia’s state fish and only native trout. Brook trout are a personal totem for me and their well being is something I take very seriously.
In the article, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources’ fish chief, Mike Bednarski, shares his concerns:
“We have a variety of concerns about what’s going to impact brook trout. In addition to stream temperatures warming, there are also concerns about habitat conditions and degradation and a variety of other factors. It can be death by a thousand cuts. The difference between stress and lethal is a fine line. The fish can handle stressful temperatures at some level, but if you have other factors being put into place, it compounds and you can see sub-lethal effects even if the water isn’t at lethal levels of warmth.”
The path forward? Bednarski puts it this way:
“We really believe that the best strategies involve habitat restoration—stream shading, maintaining stream integrity, restoring fish passage—to help reduce the impact of increased thermal stress on those water bodies. If we help keep them cooler, it will help to maintain brook trout populations.”
You can read more of Kirk’s excellent article here.
Let’s follow that habitat restoration trail a little further.
“Take care of the fish, and the fishing will take care of itself.”
In a similar vein, Kirk Deeter’s recent column, The True Cast - The REAL Secret to Catching More Fish, makes a similar point as Bednarski’s
“The truth is, there is only one proven thing in the whole world that will help any person who fishes, regardless of their skill level, the gear they use, the techniques they employ, have a legitimate chance to catch more fish whenever they go fishing.
And that is to have more wild fish in the water in the first place." (Emphasis in the original)
If you have spent anytime in quality fishing area’s you know the truth of that statement.
Deeter goes on and shares the key ingredient to success.
“I’m talking about habitat. Where healthy, big fish make millions of healthy little fish. Habitat leads to real numbers, and numbers amount to opportunity. Fishing is, after all, a game of opportunity.”
Like many people who spend a fair amount of time in the outdoors for fun and, at least in my case, as a side hustle, I see the double-edged sword of more people enjoying the great outdoors. If we create opportunity without venues for folks to enjoy the outdoor recreation experience, we’re asking for trouble.
That is a very strong argument in favor of investing more resources into habitat conservation and restoration. Beyond the non-recreational benefits of clean water, it makes economic sense for the outdoor recreation industry.
As Deeter points out,
“I wish any company that markets products on the basis of ‘catch more fish!’ would invest 10 times more in the real secret ingredient—habitat. Get that right, and everyone really will be catching more fish, with good reason.”
There is a lot of work to be done. In the next few of years, and I plan to spend a fair amount of my free time, not only fishing for these jewels but continuing to work to see that my grandchildren and their grandchildren can fish for them as well.