Short casts: Gila spawn is good, minnows in the Rio Grande, monuments considered, Michigan fishing

Some great news out of New Mexico—the egg count at the Mora National Fish Hatchery hit 130,000, which offers hope for the fire- and drought-ravaged native range for threatened Gila trout. Gilas are native only to the Gila River drainage in New Mexico and Arizona, and recovery efforts were hampered in recent years by devastating wild fires that swept across the fish’s native range and wiped out reintroduced populations. Thankfully, volunteers and state agency folks were able to salvage some of the fish, and there is promise once again for these rare southwestern trout.

Another rare fish in the Southwest is also showing some promise, although that’s largely due to a great winter and ample water this spring in the Rio Grande River. The Rio Grande silvery minnow has long been a harbinger of river health, and its condition often reflects the condition of the river itself. This year, though, with good water expected to be in the river, perhaps through summer, biologists expect the minnow’s path toward recovery to make some progress.

alt=”” title=”” />“I think that they are somewhat a canary in the coal mine,” said Jack Williams, senior scientist with Trout Unlimited. “I think that’s maybe among their largest values to us.”

The ongoing effort to revisit some of our nation’s newest national monuments has ruffled feathers in the sporting community. National monuments like Bears Ears in Utah or the new Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine are “under review” by the U.S. Department of Interior, despite local support that ended in Antiquities Act action by President Obama. The Trump administration, reacting to cries of “government overreach” by some lawmakers, is reviewing several monuments designated over the last 20 years or so to determine if those monuments are necessary.

From TU’s perspective, the Antiquities Act is one of the nation’s great conservation tools and should be used wisely and effectively, as it has for more than 100 years. In Maine, for instance, the new 87,000-acre Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument was created by President Obama after exhaustive public comment and local pleas for protection. TU volunteer leader in Maine, Kathy Scott, was part of the process many claim to be inferior. She knows better, and has said so.

Finally, if you’re looking for some summer fishing, the folks in Michigan are hoping you’ll consider the smorgasbord of angling offered in the state’s northern region. From trout to bass to carp, this corner of the state offers lots of opportunity in a northwoods setting. The now-famous flats fishing for carp and smallmouth is apparently nothing short of legendary. And of course, the trophy trout angling has always made Michigan a fly fishing breadbasket for anglers all over the country.

It might be time to make the trip.

— Chris Hunt

By Chris Hunt.