Thursday, August 25, 2016

Hang In There!! Whitefish!!

Yesterday evening, Aug. 24th, we had a public meeting regarding Yellowstone River & Tributaries closure, held by MT FWP at Park County Fairground. It was basically explanation by authorities and officials, followed by Q & A sessions. Lots of participants asked questions - fishing and many other topics. 
Have we learned and been updated? - perhaps but not really. They emphasized how threatening PKD is and health of river is #1 top priority - we all agree and we already know. 
They have NO plan or idea about what to do with whitefish carcass, rotting and smelling awful, along banks of affected area. 
What is "recreational stress"? - let's not talk about fishing (catch & release, taking pictures, etc.) - If the raft or kayak with people on it go through the rapid, whitefish would be scared to death and trout would be stressed and lose their immunity to PKD? 
They say they are working on each issue - thank you for the most versatile answer!!

One thing I can tell you for sure is, combining official reports/explanation and my own observation & analysis, so far lots of whitefish have been affected and killed, but NOT ENTIRELY. Then, NO major threats on trout (rainbow, brown, cutthroat) - so far they identified one rainbow and one cutt. 
I don't imply anything at this point.  What's done is done so I start to look for our future. 
This is another special post. This time to cheer up the rest of surviving whitefish and to get more recognition to this underrated native species in Yellowstone River.

In the previous post, I did mention that recent years whitefish seem to have been way abundant and taking over spots and foods (our flies) from trout, even during insect hatches and dry-fly fishing. I have to say there are times that whities can be nuisance, especially when I'm guiding clients who deserve and are capable to catch big trout. I have to feel so when I have to see some dissatisfaction and "enough-is-enough" expressions on those people............

But that's when I'm on business with anglers in certain levels of skills and experience and with objectives to accomplish on Yellowstone River. I sincerely like whitefish for sporting opportunities they offer me, especially when I get hooked into big individuals!!  In other words, I don't care whatever fish species are as long as I have fooled them with my skills and flies!! 
For beginning anglers and those first-time to Montana people, whitefish offer the initiation practice. There are some people who wouldn't mind catching them all day - they may catch whities through the course of the day and are happy. Then there are some that go through initiation quickly and "graduate" into trout.

Then there's one more category of people................. Whitefish Haters........

  1. I have had several out-of-staters - that I never classify as visiting fishers or angling clients as fly-fishing trip for them is just to fill in their gap during their sightseeing - who somehow must have thought catching big trout on Yellowstone River would be easy, especially hiring a guide with some money. They would complain 10"- to 12"-inch trout, certainly whitefish. What would they expect? 16" or larger trout every other cast? Or 20" plus trout for their lifetime? Typically this type of people can't even set hooks properly and/or handle fly-lines. How could they expect to bring in feisty Yellowstone trout? Whitefish are helping them go through the process only if they would be patient (Luckily, under my outfitting, I don't have to deal with this kind of people.)
  2. Another criminals are who practice "hand-shake" and "bank-release", including some locals, that are described as "grip whitefish torso with deadly force then toss back to river" and "throw whitefish to bank so they will suffocate", respectively. Who do they think they are!!??(with anger emoji here!!)  Some elitist chosen fly-fishers or what!!?? (another anger emoji!!) Unfortunately I'm sure there are even some guides who practice these as they think they are cool. This is a small case yet totally a misdemeanor in fishing & hunting laws and ethics. If you don't want the fish, practice catch-&-release properly otherwise it's the spoiling of game meat!! 

Anyways, for those Whitefish Haters, current situation on Yellowstone River must be the KARMA, if not the CURSE.

Enough accusing..........Backing to the first line..............
Whitefish is the original and native species of Yellowstone River along with Yellowstone Cutthroat. Certainly they are not handsome, compared to trout. But they shouldn't be treated as total trash. Juveniles and small individuals serve as "dinner" for giant predatory trout. Then again, sporting opportunities whities offer us should not be degraded.

I have looked back and chosen some of most memorable Whitie pics!! Following have been posted here before and are worth spotlights once, even twice, more!! Go through as you conjure up your own fond, or joke!, memories with whities!!

"Double hookup" is not uncommon while double-nymphing, however bringing them both (usually either one gets off) and snapping in a picture is very rare!!
Thank you for rising on my new dry-fly design while testing!
Renee's first whitie experience was with a group of rising whities and she caught one big one on a dry-fly!!

Then, have you caught these large specimens? In my opinion, these are rated as trophies!! Just like trophy trout, I seldom catch them!! I can guarantee they will rock your world!!
I recall this was a classic example of "a slow day ended with a laugh!!" Toward the end of gusty and miserable float, I finally had a very huge tug!! I wasn't disappointed, rather happy & proud of my catch!!
Dry-fly risers, nymph eaters, now Streamer Biters!! In my own experience, these ones cause the biggest laughter when they are hauled into the boat!! When we fish with streamers, we target for large trout. Here comes the lightning, vicious, and rod-bending tug!! Good fight follows!! We first expect brown trout. As the fish gets closer to the boat, we can tell it's not in a color of brown trout. So we assume a nice rainbow. Now even closer, we finally realize it's not a rainbow either!! I like these big ones no matter what.

Then here's my record!! Duh-duh!!!
One & only lonely 21-incher!!!!! 

That's what I always preach to visiting anglers. They share the same river, water quality, and food sources - though we know whities tend to stay near the bottom most of time. This time, though trout are not dying, because whitefish are in crisis, trout fishing opportunity is closed. 

Again, it could have been a karma for how we have been mistreating Whitefish. This is the time to give them cheers and thumb-up. Then from now on, they should be treated with the same catch-&-release practice as done to trout.

Again, I will keep you posted for Yellowstone River and tributaries closures.

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