Spencer Durrant's blog

Why do so many trout anglers hate whitefish?

Whitefish deserve the same love as trout
Now that's a face everyone can love (photo: AD Boyle).

Despite the increased focus on and effort devoted to native fish conservation these days, the mountain whitefish is often overlooked or maligned. Whitefish, like trout, are members of the salmon family. They are native to many of the same storied waters as our beloved trout — Rocky Mountain rivers like the Madison, Snake, and Green. And they’ve lived alongside cutthroat and bull trout for centuries. Whitefish are often the first species to struggle in the face of declining water quality.


Are we loving our favorite places to death?
Photo: Spencer Durrant

Europeans first set foot in South America sometime in the late 15th century, but it wasn’t until 1870 that Kaieteur Falls in Guyana were documented by non-native explorers. The falls are enormous. In fact, the 741-foot drop from top to base makes Kaieteur Falls the tallest single-drop waterfall in the world. Indigenous peoples knew of the waterfall for centuries, if not millennia. It features prominently in local folklore. These days, there’s an international airport less than a mile from the head of the Kaieteur Falls.


The three year cold shoulder
Photo: Hyrum Weaver

Three years is, in the context of space and time, a blip. Even in the context of a human life, three years isn’t much time at all.

Are you helping other anglers? You should be.

A small gesture can forever alter another angler's journey
Photo: Chad Shmukler

For $120, I could get two nights at Flaming Gorge Resort, two dinners topped with the best blackberry cobbler I’ve found, and an entire weekend mostly to myself on Utah’s portion of the Green River. This was a few years ago, back when I was more broke than I am now, but with far fewer responsibilities and more time to devote to fishing. And this deal was only available when the resort started offering offseason pricing. I couldn’t afford to be around when the fishing — and the weather — was at its peak.

The tiger trout takeover

Are frankenfish what we want swimming in our backcountry fisheries?
Photo: Spencer Durrant

The creek looked like something pulled out of a wilderness designer’s catalogue. It snaked through a sweeping meadow valley, each turn revealing deep undercut banks and plenty of hiding spots for trout. Rocks peppered about half the runs, giving me a mix of pools, riffles, and pocket water, in which I knew were cutthroat eager to smack a dry fly.

Winter midges

The smallest things can reveal a river's biggest surprises
Photo: Rueben Browning

Within a minute of leaving the truck, I regretted the extra layers I’d added at the last second. Sure, it was cold, but the snow was waist deep. The exertion of moving through the landscape warmed me up plenty. More than necessary, probably, since I felt my extra layers trapping too much moisture against my skin. But I wasn’t about to head back to the truck and change.

Right under my nose

Seeking the cure for fishing envy

About a week ago, I was sitting around trying to get some work done when I got an email from a friend of mine. He works at my favorite fly shop here in Utah, and he was emailing me some pictures of the bonefish he’d snagged while fishing South Andros Island in the Bahamas earlier that day.

A few days later, another friend of mine sent me some pictures of him with a steelhead on some river in Washington. Then a couple days after that I read about two anglers’ grand adventure in Patagonia.

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