Tourney could cast big benefits to angling
BASALT High in the Fryingpan Valley drainage there is a basin where three streams converge near a unique spring to provide what the Roaring Fork Conservancy labeled a “haven for many native animals.”The 160-acre parcel is home to elk, mule deer, black bear, mountain lion, pine marten, snowshoe hare and golden eagles. The spring also creates an unparalleled natural sanctuary for native trout. For many decades, a private hatchery operated there for rainbow and cutthroat trout.The hatchery has been out of commission for a couple of years, but two leading conservation groups in the Roaring Fork Valley hope to change that. The pristine property is managed by the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies. It hopes to resurrect the hatchery at Spring Creek to raise cutthroat trout.The Basalt-based Roaring Fork Conservancy is helping ACES achieve that goal. The conservancy is helping organize the 2007 High Mountain Masters Fly Fishing Tournament this weekend to raise funds for the Spring Creek hatchery and another project that will help protect the Roaring Fork River watershed.The event features a casting competition on Friday, Aug. 24, and a fly-fishing tournament on Saturday as well as a dinner and cocktail party at the Peace Ranch in the Fryingpan Valley, above Basalt, on Saturday evening.This is the second year of the event. R.A. Beattie, a fishing guide who masterminded the benefit, said it pulls all the guides from the various shops into a team effort. They share a desire to help raise funds to conserve fisheries, he said.Details and registration for the competitions, and tickets to the dinner are available at the Roaring Fork Conservancy’s website, http://www.roaringfork.org, and an event website, http://www.fishwithra.com.In addition to helping with the resurrection of the Spring Creek hatchery, the HIgh Mountain Masters benefit will raise funds for temperatures monitors on rivers in the valley.Roaring Fork Conservancy Executive Director Rick Lafaro said the temperature monitoring is another tool to help protect fish habitat in the basin. There are 43 miles of Gold Medal Fisheries from the base of Ruedi dam on the Fryingpan River to the confluence of the Roaring Fork River with the Colorado River. Gold Medal waters must meet Colorado Division of Wildlife criteria for the size and number of trout they contain.The standard temperature for premier trout streams is 65 degrees, Lafaro said. The Conservancy wants to eventually measure temperatures at all 28 of its water quality monitoring stations in the Roaring Fork basin, which includes the Fryingpan and Crystal rivers.Low flows in late, warm summer days can boost the temperatures of the streams, Lafaro said. That affects the amount of oxygen that is dissolved in the water. Fish can be more easily stressed in higher temperatures.Lafaro said the Conservancy could use the monitoring to alert anglers about high temperatures and urge a voluntary closure of waters to fishing if necessary.For more information about either cause that benefits from the High Mountain Masters Fly Fishing Tournament, call the Conservancy at 927-1290.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is email@example.com.