The Yakima River Headwaters Chapter 090 is launched the Teanaway Cutthroat Slam on June 2, 2018. The Slam was viewed as a key component of the Chapter’s on-going conservation work in the tributaries of the Yakima River, the longest of the Columbia River’s tributaries in Washington State and home to several species of salmonids, including anadromous salmon, Steelhead, Bull Char, Rainbow, and Westslope Cutthroat Trout, the Chapter’s main cause.
Since its inception, the Chapter has developed a strategic plan and outreach programs to address the cold-water conservation issues in the Yakima River, a heavily irrigated system used to grow most of the Hops in the United States, our famous apples, hay, lentils, and much more. This use of the river and the annual snowmelt has caused issues for anadromous species in the last century, including eliminating spawning grounds, passage over dams, and disease. Drought and water management for fish, families, and farms is also an issue that is being addressed through the ambitious Yakima Basin Integrated Plan, of which TU is also a big contributor to along with American Rivers and the Wilderness Society.
The Teanaway Cutthroat Slam was similar to other Slams, in that anglers are recognized for their efforts in the catch & release of specific species of trout. However, as part of the Chapter’s strategic plan, Angler Science plays a big part in this Slam and engages participants in actively learning more about the fishery and the need to protect the watershed in the Teanaway. Participants were collecting water temperature, insect ID, location, and photographs of their fish to document the presence of fish in each of the three forks of the Teanaway (West, Middle, and Main). Anglers uploaded their findings using a mobile application as well as a paper “Angler’s Diary.” When they registered, they received a packet including a thermometer, pencil, diary. As the anglers completed their tasks, special coins were given to reflect their efforts. At the end of the fishing season in October, we gathered all participants for an special ceremony to recognize their efforts and take the next steps – fish tagging to observe movement throughout the system, eDNA tests to determine hybrid presence, and more.
For those of you who have fished Rock Creek, Montana – it’s very similar, except no Brown Trout. We’ve already determined that the various species of fish in the headwaters are using the Teanaway as cold water refuge, a finding made by our 2016 summer intern and partners at Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW). Since then, our habitat work has focused on monitoring water temperature and flow, quality, and other factors to determine the extent of action(s) needed to rehabilitate this fishery for the future.
For more information, you can also visit the TCS Facebook Page and the Chapter’s Facebook page. A huge thanks to our Chapter’s Conservation Chair, Pat HesselGesser, for planning and executing this great project!