Tag: rehabilitation

A visit to Lincoln Hills Fly Fishing Club

Lincoln Hills Fly Fishing Club

Lincoln Hills Fly Fishing ClubRolling down Coal Creek Canyon Road at a moderate clip, I blow right past the turn-off. Next time I’m an extra standard deviation from the steps of the state capitol building, I’ll follow the directions sent to me instead of Google Maps. On the other side of the tracks is Lincoln Hills Fly Fishing Club.

Tucked away in Gilpin County, an hour and change from Denver proper, Lincoln Hills FFC is what is commonly referred to as “private water.” That term usually carries negative connotations – developers buying up land around prime fishing habitat and closing it off to the public. But what if the area carried historical significance, had been mined to the point of being nearly fishless, and then left to rot? Under such circumstances, should it still be a place anglers love to hate? That’s what I went to find out (as well as catch a few trout).

Getting started

Lincoln Hills has a storied past. It began as a private club, an exclusive retreat for African-Americans, and for a time it was the only place of its kind in the western US. Started in 1922, it served that community by allowing African-Americans to build summer getaways at a time when the Ku Klux Klan held power in Colorado, and African-Americans weren’t allowed to book hotel rooms or use public parks. By the time the Civil Rights Act of 1964 came about, popular entertainers such as Lena Horne, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie were no longer visiting Lincoln Hills. Soon thereafter, centerpiece Wink’s Lodge developer Obrey Wendell Hamlet died, and Lincoln Hills was seemingly lost in the history books.

Industry, which had already stripped the valley bare prior to its development as a resort, returned, and in the ensuing years Lincoln Hills was again a hotbed for placer and hydraulic mining. Thankfully, such techniques did not involve the use of chemicals that would otherwise poison the water, but the effects of the search for precious metals nevertheless took its toll. By the time mining ceased in the late-70’s, the valley was one big gravel pit – devoid of foliage, insect life, and our fine finned friends.


Monday Morning’s Weekend Review

Things I missed because I was doing fun stuff like running from tornados

  • How to stop the next bubble? While the read is interesting, there are certainly plenty of conflicting arguments amongst the discussion participants (summary: they don’t really know the answer). It’s primarily a macroeconomic and regulatory chat – nobody seemed willing to touch on the subjects of herd mentality and the “keeping up with the Joneses” phenomena so prevalent in society – you are not going to stop those bubble creating factors without some embarrassing pain. (h/t The Big Picture)
  • There’s no such thing as a free lunch, at least not if lunch is really dinner and you work at Google. Google has axed its famed free dinners, but they really weren’t free to begin with – everyone is on salary and was working extra hours as a result of the perk. Now employees have an excuse to leave early, and go work on their startup. (h/t Mashable)
  • Drug and alcohol spa Cirque Lodge in Sundance Utah is using fly fishing as a rehab strategy. Catching trout in the Provo River would certainly keep patients’ minds off harmful substances, but as the Trout Underground noted isn’t it just swapping one addiction for another? I guess you’d have to be a participant to understand; in urban America, when one wants to describe something that is instantly addictive they say “It’s like crack” – in the Mountain West we say “It’s like casting dry flies on the Roaring Fork during the green drake hatch.”


San Juan River gets a makeover

The fabled fishery, best known for its high desert beauty, its penchant for crowds, and its fat rainbow trout, just got a makeover thanks to some heavy lifting

Although the river water was ideal in temperature and clarity for trout, fisheries biologist Marc Wethington, with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, knew that more had to be done to improve the fish habitat in the below-dam reaches. He also knew that fixing the river would take some very dedicated, conservation-minded partners, so he approached John Hansen, wildlife biologist with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Together, they began involving the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the New Mexico State Environmental Agency, local members of the Navajo Nation, and the community at large. They knew, too, it was going to take a lot more money than either had in their budgets. So they began approaching environmentally concerned businesses and individuals in the area. According to Hansen, “It was really neat to see how both companies and individuals began to step up to the plate. Companies such as Adobe Contractors, Golden Equipment Co., Volvo Construction Equipment, local tribes, fishing clubs, guide and fly shops, oil and gas companies. Everyone, big and small. It was very encouraging.”

I’ve spent at least thirty days of my life on that river, and must say that while improvement might be hard to come by (being that it is so damn good to begin with), getting such a fine cadre of folks together to work on enhancement proves what an important fishery it really is.

If you (like I) ever wondered how big pocket-water-creating boulders wound up in the middle of medaled trout water (when there was no rocky cliff in sight that might have held said boulder prior), well now you know – someone is looking out for you AND Mr. Fish!

Never been to the San Juan? Well here’s some enticement for planning a trip – some fun (and somewhat astounding) fishery facts.

(h/t to Moldy Chum)