By: Ameen Hosain As fourteen youthful and enthusiastic campers showed up to the Barr N I ranch for this year’s fly fishing and conservation youth camp, it was easy to tell that the next five days would be a week to remember.
With many fish to be caught and much to be learned, the campers settled in to the barn that they would call home for the coming days. As the week progressed the campers gained experience in the worlds of conservation and fly fishing and made new connections with others who shared similar passions for the outdoors.
Through fishing instruction, and participation in activities such as a fish hatchery tour and a river restoration project, the young anglers learned the relationship between the fish they are able to catch and the conservation efforts of Colorado Trout Unlimited and other organizations. These experiences all combined to create a lasting impact on all those involved.
To kick off the week, campers took a drive to the city of Alamosa, where they took a tour of the Native Aquatic Species Hatchery, a facility based around the restoration of Colorado’s native fish. Here, over ten thousand fish are being raised with the intention of stocking them into Colorado’s rivers in the future. Campers were exposed to the science behind genetics, and were able to see what it takes to bring back a species from endangerment. Though the camp focuses on trout conservation, the hatchery harbors nothing but native species (meaning no trout), thus enabling campers to realize that conservation goes further than just the species most popular in Colorado rivers.
Another major part of the campers’ experience was their participation in a river restoration project in collaboration with the Purgatoire River Anglers Chapter of CTU out of Trinidad. The Purgatoire River runs through Trinidad and has seen many restoration efforts in the past few years. Campers assisted in the removal of a fern called Russian olive- an invasive plant that consumes large amounts of water, taking it away from the river system. A day was spent using tools and chainsaws to cut down many of these large plants to better the fishery that the anglers of Trinidad value greatly.
As the title presumes, the fly fishing and conservation youth camp also put aside much time for campers to hone their fishing skills on the numerous stock ponds the Bar N I ranch had to offer, as well as the beautiful creek and the larger lakes surrounding the property. Given large amounts of time to fish each day, and instruction from experienced guides and fishermen, campers enjoyed testing newly tied flies on eager fish. Astoundingly, at the end of five days, every young angler, regardless of skill level was able to successfully land a fish, with dozens of healthy trout seeing the net.
The 2016 camp was an extreme success and campers and volunteers alike went home with smiling faces. With the future of our wildlife habitats at stake, Colorado Trout Unlimited gave campers the building blocks to continue down a road of conservation, using the sport of fly fishing as a catalyst to light a fire in the hearts of young anglers.
With hopes that these fisherman will follow in the footsteps of those they learned from, Trout Unlimited’s fly fishing and conservation youth will continue to inspire young conservationists one year at a time, with no end in sight.
Colorado Trout Unlimited would also like to give a special thanks to its volunteers, and those that are able to make this camp a reality year after year, as much success is due to their efforts. CTU would also like to thank the chapters that sponsored a camper with a donation to the Youth Camp. Without all of your support this camp wouldn't have been possible!!