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Fishing Trip on the Gunnison

Fishing Trip on the Gunnison

The Perennial Plate - Sn 1/Ep 6The Perennial Plate - Sn 1/Ep 6

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We floated down the Gunnison River with 3 members of Trout Unlimited, a conservation group striving to find solutions to protect fish and waterways. Fishing and real talk ensue.

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Transcript

- When I was a kid, my brother and my dad and I would, we would drive up the river, above the diversions, at night, and we would fish. And I remember one night, my brother and I caught a handful of maybe 10 inch fish. And we thought we were doing pretty good. The next day we were irrigating, and we had to clean out a gated pipe section, and we released a 24 inch rainbow out of the end of our gated pipe in our irrigation field. And it was kind of then that I realized that, wow, we have a serious impact on this fishery. The biggest fish my brother and I caught that whole summer was while irrigating. And we needed to divert water, we needed to irrigate our fields, on the other hand, we didn't need to be taking fish out, out of the river to do that. And maybe that means that we can be doing something else. I think I started fly fishing when I was 10. So, 31 years. You'd think I'd be better at it. - The day that I graduated from law school, I moved to Colorado, so I could be closer to fishing. - Lifelong since I was a little kid, not always fly fish, but I grew up... Playing down by the river, fishing, making forts in the willows. And, it was either that or irrigating. Always had something to do with water. - [Cary] And I grew up on a small stream not too far from here where I would fish at the headwaters. And then just a few miles downstream, the creek was dry because all the water would be taken out of it to grow hay. And, so I understand it from both sides. - Farms and ranches, and conservation and fish and wildlife, all depend on healthy rivers, healthy water flows. The distrust that might've existed slowly starting to go away because we see that we can work together, we have common interests. - [Jesse] I love cows, I love fish, and just trying to figure out a way to protect both of them, you know? Where you can have, you can produce the food for folks that we need as a society, and also protect the watersheds that we need as a society. And fish are a great indicator species for the health of the watershed. And if we can come up with solutions to keep fish in the streams, ultimately that'll be what, what we need to maintain as a community. - [Drew] Farms and ranches, a lot of... Great benefit to the state in terms of local food production and, open space, and wildlife habitat and fish habitat too. So, it's all about trying to find a balance between those competing needs, so it's a challenge, in a dry place like Colorado. - [Jesse] Sometimes the biggest challenge is trying to get folks to step away from their, just their perspective on what the water should be used for. - Here's where a ditch starts to pull water off of the, off the river for irrigation, for agricultural use. - It can actually provide pretty good habitat for trout, these structures, deeper pools. They can also be problematic. - So part of the balance is trying to get the irrigators the amount of water they need, especially in times of low water, so that they don't have to come out in the river with heavy equipment and push these rock dams up, which can affect the fishery, which can take more water out of the river, it can create fish passage issues, and it disturbs the, the channel structure, and the fish habitat. You know, if you look around, it's kind of the life blood of the community. This normally arid area. It's amazing how resilient the river can be too. How it goes through times of shortage and, and if cared for right, it can provide so much for so many. Think about how much work this water does. From here to California. How many people rely on this little chunk of water that we're floating on. We think about it in terms of fishing, like right now, right here in front of us, our community. What it provides for us. But it's crazy to think about how many people are downstream using this resource to grow food, drinking water, and to be out here on it, on a day like today is, you get to see how, how special it is. Oh! Shit! - [Jesse] Nice one. - That was a big fish! And I think he took the 20 incher. - [Jesse] Really? - For Pete's sake. - [Jesse] Dang it. - He was going right when I was pulling it back! Ah crap! - [Jesse] Yeah 20 incher's the money, maybe get rid of that rubber leg, huh? - Yeah, heck yeah.

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