Short casts: New lake in Wyoming; shad in Oregon, clean water takes a hit

Big migratory Bonneville cutthroat trout are among the fishiest resources of the Wyoming Range. This spring, a landslide created a new lake in the Wyoming Range’s Willow Creek drainage.

From the “How Cool is This?” department comes the news of a new lake in western Wyoming. This last winter’s record-setting snowfall caused an entire mountainside to slough off and block a small stream. The landslide has created a new natural lake about 20 acres in size in the Wyoming Range.

This is remarkable for a couple of reasons. First, it’s not every day you hear about a new lake being created at the whim of Mother Nature. Second, TU was the tip of the spear in the effort to protect the Wyoming Range from new oil and gas drilling in the mid-2000s. The Wyoming Range Legacy Act turns 10 this year, and the region’s prized native trout resources are still intact and still thriving. It’ll be interesting to see how the fish respond to this new lake.

A little closer to home, at least to me here in Idaho, is this story about fly fishing for American shad on the Willamette River in Oregon. A lot of folks “Back East” don’t know that fish like shad and striped bass were introduced to West Coast Rivers more than century ago, and, in addition to the salmon and steelhead runs our rivers get, we get sizeable returns of shad and stripers, too. This piece brims with some cool history on the topic, and has me wondering if, next spring, I might need to make a little run to the Willamette Valley to chase fat American shad.

Finally, the new director of Montana Trout Unlimited, David Brooks, chimed in on the decision to unravel the Clean Water Rule and leave thousands of headwater streams without sufficient protection from development and pollution. As Brooks points out, “we must act quickly.” The comment period is short, but the EPA and the Trump administration need to hear from everyday Americans for whom clean water is a necessity of life, not an optional component. If you turn on a tap for your drinking water, this proposed rollback affects you. It’s time to act. Comment in opposition to the rollback and help protect the sources of our nation’s great rivers from contamination.

— Chris Hunt

By Chris Hunt.