Saturday, April 11, 2015

Woodland Trout Fund

Twice every year an intrepid group of fish enthusiasts stock our beloved Woodland Valley Creek with brown trout. This is a private effort and depends on donations from the community. Mike O'Neil (aka Boreegard) spearheads the effort. He collects the funds, contacts the fishery and coordinates with the homeowners along the stream. Right now he is the fundraising part of the endeavor. He wanted me to pass on the note below in case some of you are interested in donating. Here is what Mike had to say.


Onward and Upward in the Stream

A definition from the Woodland Brook Glossary: Brook Trout, Speckled Trout—Salvelinus fontinalis—The true native trout to American eastern waters (though pedantic biologists will quibble and insist that it is actually a char). One of the most beautifully colored fish in all the world, John Burroughs noted that "The [brook] trout is dark and obscure above, but behind this foil there are wondrous tints that reward the believing eye." By the end of the 19th century it was fast disappearing due to environmental degradations and the huge popularity of sports fishing. Native brookies can still be found in Woodland Brook, but only in the coldest headwaters—stunted in size and much reduced in population.

We have stocked the fly fishing section of the stream with browns, exclusively, lo these many years. I use that term “many years” advisedly. I’m shocked to contemplate that 2015 will mark the 51st year we have stocked our lovely stream, and I look forward to continuing into our sixth decade, God willing and the Creeks don’t rise. How many fledgling business ventures have stayed afloat for so long, I wonder?

The reason we’ve chosen browns is simple. They are one of the several varieties that New York State will allow to be stocked in the tributaries of the Esopus, and they tolerate the blight of low warm water that Ulster County often delivers in mid to late summer.

Still, one is mindful of the beautiful natives fostered by the cold uncorrupted stream waters that were the norm before man mucked things up in his quest for the almighty buck. The primeval forest that once shaded our waters with towering hemlocks was leveled in the nineteenth century to promote the tanning of hundreds of thousands of “green” cowhides shipped up from South America. Goodbye brookies—hello stocked browns and rainbows.

Enough of the history lesson, which I have no doubt you knew already. Let me cut to the chase. Last May I decided to order brook trout instead of browns for the first of our two stockings. I did this out of a sentimental twinge, out of curiosity, and finally to succumb to the urgings of a valley neighbor, who earns his living in trout management, Nat Gillespie. Nat will be happy to educate you on his scientifically based belief that reintroducing Salvelinus fontinalis into the brook makes sense. I can report that the brookies seemed to do fine in the early part of the summer. They did well enough so that I intend to stock them again this May. In July, it still seems appropriate to stock the hardier browns.

Now to business—As will occasionally happen with ventures of this sort, the kitty is dramatically low. To be able to continue funding the stocking of our fly fishing run, I would ask you to think of the fun you can look forward to this summer when you visit the stream. Please make out a check to THE WOODLAND TROUT FUND, in the amount you feel the stream deserves, and send it to Mike O’Neil, 101 Rambling Road, Vernon, CT 06066.

Many thanks