Saturday, October 31, 2015

Silver Creeks autumn

Silver Creek Autumn
Its Halloween! Our autumn fishing season is coming to an end. The season stays open another month through November on Silver Creek. Then the head water stretches upstream of Hwy 20 bridge west of Picabo close for the season. Downstream, the Creek stays open until March 1st, 2016.

Brown trout are now spawning. I took a walk today and found good numbers of large fish on the "Reds". I saw another guide who works for a local Outfitter who I won't mention, with 2 clients trying to hook these spawning fish while on the reds. Bugger all! Can't these guys leave these fish alone while their spawning? Meanwhile Rainbows were rising in the Preserve and I notice my neighbor was hooked up.

The photo above is what the stream looks like this time of year. Not much greenery but brown grassy fields.My neighbor was the only one fishing.

Picabo Livestock has put in another application with the county for a stream alteration permit. This SAP application is for dredging the Creek downstream of the Pond and Kilpatrick bridge. They reconfigured the pond two years ago and flushed tons of sediment downstream. See my prior posts. It settled approximately a mile below the new dam that was constructed. The Pond project was totally botched. Now the pond resembles a lake with little or no current flow. The anglers who pay for drive in access to this ranch were complaining of "lack of fish" and no hatches. Heaps of moaning about lousy fishing conditions. I'm not a bit surprised since I fought this stream alteration project for two years. Now Picabo Livestock Company wants to dredge and clean up the sedimentation they created. What a pity that our county commissioners would hand out a SAP to a livestock company with no prior experience on stream alterations. No doubt they will do it again even though many anglers are opposed to such nonsense.

Another piece of news. Someone has taken it upon themselves to illegally stock hatchery/farm raised rainbow trout in Silver Creek. I've notice many of these mutant trout in the Point of Rocks region. I'm looking elsewhere to figure out their distribution on Silver Creek. Now this is against the law and very inconsiderate and selfish considering the possible implications to our wild trout populations. There's always a opportunity for disease to be introduced. Hopefully this person will be identifed and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Silver Creek Spring    

It was another fun season here in Southern Idaho. I hope you can visit next  summer and we can fish together when Silver Creek looks like the photo above. The season opens Memorial Day weekend. June is the best month to fish the Creek!

David Glasscock
Idaho Angling Services

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Big Lost River

Another day in Paradise. My office really isn't too bad! Over the past 34 years, I've spent a large portion of each summer and autumn guiding on the Big Lost River. Yeah, I leave near the banks of Silver Creek, but every day I spend in the beautiful Big Lost River Valley is a joy. I never stop marveling at the dramatic mountain scenery. The fishing is some of the best in southern Idaho. What a spectacular Rainbow fishery this river provides!

The hatches are incredible with Golden Stones, Little Yellow Stones, PMD's, Trico and Blue Wing Olives. the Large Brown Crane flies are very cool as well.

When the hatches are on, large Rainbows move into the shallows and riffles and the sight fishing is fantastic.

The birding is fun as well with heaps of Robins, Cedar Wax Wings, Downy Woodpeckers, Dippers and Kingbirds etc. Occasionally we see a Bald Eagle and lots of Red Tail hawks.

I'm headed back there with some quests tomorrow.......

 Mr. Joe Donoho from Florida 


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Injecting some love into Loving Creek

I’ve been a resident of Picabo for 34 years. Living in an agriculture area, I’ve been able to watch how crops are grown and paddocks are irrigated. In fact, I look out my front windows to the east where hundreds of acres are irrigated.

Over the years I’ve seen a lot of abysmal agricultural practices. I guess in the modern day world, these are the profitable ways to get it done. Growth retardants aerial sprayed on the Beer Barley crops to the entire Silver Creek Valley sprayed with Malathion to eliminate the grass hopper populations causing damage to farmer’s crops. Should I mention the toxic spraying of the Seed Potatoes crops as well?
It’s ugly, toxic and quite frankly, smelly! In many cases these chemical applications are done within a few yards of Silver Creek or its tributaries.  I’ve even been warned by a ranch hand while fishing/guiding along the Creek to leave since the Seed Potato field had just been spayed the day before. Oh, that’s what the funny smell is.

 I’ve had a few tense words with a helicopter pilot applicator flying over my house loaded for bear, with chemicals. Illegal to say the least, but hey, who’s enforcing.

Today as I was out for a Sunday bike ride, I came across something I’ve never seen before. Here was an old flat bed Dodge pickup parked just off the Gannet Rd., next to Loving Creek. As I rode by, I notice some apparatus operating off the flat bed. I immediately turned around to check it out. Here was a box of some chemical that someone was injecting into Loving Creek with an electric powered applicator and hose. It didn’t look good. The hose was running off the back of the truck and into the headwaters of Loving Creek.

At further inspection, I noticed that it was an aquatic herbicide.


 I read the “environmental hazards” on the box of Cascade herbicide. It said in the first sentence; This pesticide is toxic to fish, and then, This pesticide is toxic to wildlife. Whoa, this is not looking good. Why would this landowner and farmer inject this stuff into one of the major tributaries of Silver Creek?

 I rode home and researched this chemical online. Cascade is typically use in irrigation canals/ditches to kill aquatic vegetation. I suppose this landowner/farmer considers Loving Creek nothing more than an irrigation ditch. It makes me wonder how long this practice has been in use in the Silver Creek drainage. It can’t be good for the aquatic communities as well.

Why have we seen such a significant crash in Mayfly populations on Silver Creek over the past 20 years?  Who knows for sure and some more recent transplants don’t think it’s happened, but these farming practices can’t be helping.

I contact Mr. Doug Megargle, our fishery biologist with the Idaho Fish & Game. He went to work on this immediately in order to get some information. Doug contacted the DEQ and they forwarded my info on to the EPA. The EPA responded to the DEQ and forwarded their info to Doug.

This Casdcade Herbicide is sold over the counter to anyone. Mr. Dirk Helder from the EPA says this if this product is applied by a private landowner and not a contractor:

Under the NPDES Pesticide General Permit (PGP) they would not have to obtain a permit from EPA nor would they have to notify EPA of their pesticide applications.
Small applicators have few responsibilities under the PGP, larger applicators and weed control Districts have extensive permit requirements. Under the CWA even as a private landowner, they would still need to follow the PGP but for a private landowner making this type of application that would require them to calibrate their equipment correctly to ensure the proper amount of pesticide is being applied and to follow the pesticide label.
I know if I was a hatchery operator I'd be pretty concerned along with the fact that Silver Creek is downstream. From a good neighbor perspective it seems like the applicator could have done more, but they would not need an NPDES permit and would only need to primarily follow the label to meet EPA's requirements. 

Apparently if this Herbicide is introduced into a waterway correctly, and in the proper doses, the claim is that it is not toxic to fish. Still, it is risky business and mistakes can be made. From a aquatic ecosystem perspective, it can't be healthy. 

Once the IDF&G had the opportunity to run the license plates on this Dodge truck, the owners identity was shared with me. Picabo Livestock, Nick Purdy owner of the Picabo Angler a newly created outfitting and guiding business. His response to the IDF&G about injecting Aquatic Herbicides into Loving Creek was, "we've been doing this for years".  

Wow, I'm dumbfounded but not entirely surprised.



Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Brown Trout

A few years back, the Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game conducted an open house in Hailey, ID. One of the topics on the agenda was to pass out a questionaire to the public on Brown trout populating Silver Creek.

 I attended this meeting and filled out the questionnaire along with many other anglers.The Fish & Game were considering opening up a catch & kill season on Brown Trout. As I recall, the consensus was that the majority of anglers were in favor of the Brown Trout fishery in Silver Creek. Subsequently the F&G did not implement new regulation changes.

As the story goes, Jack Hemingway introduced or helped introduced Brown Trout to Silver Creek when he was one of the Fish and Game Commissioners for Idaho.  Kudos to Jack for his foresight in enhancing the trout fishery in Silver Creek! Silver Creek has a fantastic Brown Trout and Rainbow fishery. Its my opinion that the Brown Trout fishery represents the trophy fishery in Silver Creek.

Now, where was the pressure coming from to remove or try and change fishing regulations (harvesting Brown trout) on Silver Creek? I recently asked this question to Mr. Dave Parrish with the IDFG. At the time of the public open house at the Community Campus in Hailey, Dave was the regional director for Region 4 within the IDFG.

Here was Mr. Parrish response:

Just to give you some history, TNC came to us saying, antidotally, that brown trout were dominating the fishery within the Conservancy.  They wanted us to physically remove brown trout to restore rainbow trout as the dominate fish through the area.  Rather than us electrofish or trapping browns and moving them – which would be labor intensive, risk spread of diseases, and not cost effective, we proposed limited harvest of brown trout.  Frankly, we suspected there wouldn’t be much public support for the concept, but we wanted to gauge the public’s concern for the rainbow/brown trout fishery on Silver Creek and share the information with TNC.

Why would TNC want the IDFG to remove Brown Trout from Silver Creek? I had not noticed any sort of domination of one trout species over the other in my 33 years of fishing/guiding on Silver Creek. I've always caught far more Rainbows than Brown Trout.

                                                               A large bar of Gold

Today, I  was reviewing  permitting applications for the new irrigation dam that Purdy is currently installing in Kilpatrick Pond. With the new dam is a fish ladder component. The design calls for a check structure or gate at the top of the dam. This gate is being constructed per the TNCs request to block any invasive species or Brown Trout from migrating upstream. 

TNC has not elaborated on what invasive species they are concerned about moving over this dam. They have stated in meetings that they want to block Brown Trout from moving upstream, especially during the spawning season in the fall. 

I personally do not want a landowner along Silver Creek to try and manage the fishery. We have a very competent F&G state department to do that for us. If TNC has control over the Purdy dam fish ladder gate, then effectively they are managing the fishery. This is not right.

TNC obviously still wants to have Rainbow Trout as the dominate trout species in Silver Creek. I have heard comments from their staff that the rainbows are more closely related to the native species that populated Silver Creek originally. What was the original trout species in Silver Creek? Was it a Red Band trout? Cuttroat? I'm not sure if anyone knows the definitive answer to this question. One things for sure, the Rainbow Trout that populate Silver Creek are descendents of planted trout, probably Rainbows from Northern California. 

Both Brown trout and Rainbows were introduced to Silver Creek.....



Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Disasterous Draining of Kilpatrick Pond


I was able to attend all of the meetings with the Blaine County Commissioners concerning the stream alteration permit application for the Kilpatrick Pond area of Silver Creek by landowner Purdy and The Nature Conservancy.  Purdy's proposal was to build a temporary coffer dam across a portion of Silver Creek and divert all of the stream into an irrigation ditch. This would de-water and dry up the lower section of the pond, so that the heavy equipment could then build a new island, fill in the banks to narrow the stream, and build a new dam. Upstream of this coffer dam, water levels were to stay at a sustainable level. This was to mitigate downstream sediment transport.

The Purdy proposal was to only de-water that section of Silver Creek downstream from the temporary coffer dam, which is the construction area.

This has not happened. Other methods were used in order to divert Silver Creek into the temporary ditch lined with plastic. Unfortunately, this alternative method de-watered all of Kilpatrick Pond at once, including upstream to Kilpatrick Bridge and beyond. In fact, it has de-watered the float tube area upstream of Kilpatrick Bridge for approximately  four hundred yards. It has also drastically lowered the stream levels through the S- Bends and, more importantly, almost dried up the Lower Slough. This is a natural spring fed slough that connects to Silver Creek.  I walked the Lower Slough today and found many large trout stranded in a few deeper pockets. It appears that they will not be able to migrate back into Silver Creek. Unless there is a fish salvage conducted by the State of Idaho Fish & Game, no doubt these trout will perish.

                                                                     Lower slough

                        Downstream of Kilpatrick Bridge, sediment flowing downstream. 

Because the coffer dam was not used to keep pond water levels stable while diverting Silver Creek, massive amounts of sediment have now flowed downstream. This is due to a sudden water level drop through the entire Kilpatrick Pond and bridge area, both up and downstream. The small channel that is left has carved tons of sediment out and has moved it downstream of Kilpatrick pond. The water velocity in the left over channel is fast and it continues to carve out more sediment and deepen a channel as long as the water is being diverted into the irrigation ditch. These flows could continue for weeks.

                                           Upstream of Kilpatrick Bridge, high turbidity

This just goes to show that there was not correct oversight by  permitting agencies inspectors. Its a tragic loss of habitat, namely the aquatic invertebrate populations in a large area of Silver Creek. By drying up this entire section of Silver Creek at once, most all invertebrates have certainly perished. I estimate there is only 5% of the pond area left with with water flowing through it.

                          Looking upstream of Kilpatrick Bridge towards the S-Bends

The sign below was posted after the SAP permit was issued by our Blaine County Commissioners.  The Purdy SAP is being self contracted by Purdy in partnership with TNC. TU jumped on board and appointed themselves as the overseers of this disastrous project.

                                         A self proclaimed enhancement project

A recent email from a civil engineer in Boise after viewing the photos in this post:

The Army Corps of Engineers should be contacted, and the EPA, State office. If one of my public works projects created turbidity like that in a surface water, there would be very stiff fines assessed to the permit holders.  Just flat crazy.