Patagonia Mice? Revisiting Henry's Fork

Patagonian Mice?

I’d like to thank Jerry Gibbs for doing such a professional job of chronicling his experience of fishing with us here in Chilean Patagonia (Autumn 2010, “Patagonia North”). I’d like to rectify a slight error in our Web-site address, with the correct being www.chilepatagonia.com. Jerry’s article highlighted the giant cantaria beetles, which only hatch here in large numbers every even year so those impressive insects won’t be on our local trout’s menu for the 2011 season. However, there is another interesting event taking place that could prove to be a boon for the diet of our local trout. Most rivers in Chile’s Aysen Region are lined with large amounts of bamboo, locally know as colihue, and this plant is presently flowering en masse throughout much its range. And this flowering, which records show hasn’t happened to this scale in close to 70 years, results in the production of a massive seed crop, which, as local lore has it, will result in a huge spike in the local mouse population. So much so that authorities are referring to it as a plague. Whether or not this means that massive numbers of mice will be finding their way into the rivers and we will have an epic season or two of fishing mice patterns remains to be seen. But, as the fish gods know, we will certainly be putting the theory to the test!

Rex Bryngelson
La Posada de los Farios

Revisiting Henry’s Fork

I enjoyed Greg Thomas’ (always well-written) article on the return of the Henry’s Fork (Autumn 2010). But as former chair of Trout Unlimited’s National Resources Board, an academic with decades of experience working in water-resources management, a former Wisconsin state resources agency head and fly-fishing author, I was disturbed that Thomas didn’t explain the why and how of the recovery of the fishery. Failing to make that connection for anglers leaves them with the simplified and naive impression that rivers simply “ebb and flow, literally and metaphorically”, rather than informing readers of the science and conservation work essential to improving our coldwater fisheries.

Without improved winter flows to assure survival of year classes, and without enhancing connections between the Henry’s Fork and key tributaries that provide off-mainstem refuges and spawning areas—both major activities of the Henry’s Fork Foundation (HFF) over the past several years—Thomas’ reported comeback wouldn’t have happened. To not mention the watershed organization that has championed these actions is a gross oversight, and misses the chance to educate the fly-fishing community on what underpins their fishing experience and future. I’ve been a member of the HFF Board for the past five years, and have helped shape the research and restoration program executed by a very talented staff, working with many partners. But my concern is not rooted in my affiliation. Having worked with watershed conservation groups in the U.S. and worldwide for many years, [I believe] it’s critical for magazines like FR&R to make sure that the conservation stories behind our fishing get told accurately and well.

Stephen Born
Emeritus Professor
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Thank you, Professor Born, for sharing this conservation angle. Greg Thomas’ feature, of course, was on fishing the Henry’s Fork and was not centered on cataloging conservation programs (which magazines such as TU’s Trout and the Conservation column in this magazine have a mission to cover more fully). Similarly, an article on fly patterns cannot tell the complete story of, say, the development of the hook and the materials used.—ed.