Groups to protest KORE exploratory mining in Mammoth Lakes on Saturday

What’s happening?

The U.S. Forest Service announced in a media release this week that KORE Mining, Ltd. will begin exploratory drilling as early as Tuesday, November 30, in Long Valley. 

“The public should expect that heavy equipment including a drill rig will be on the roads near Whitmore Hot Springs and Antelope Springs Roads,” the media release says.

Friends of the Inyo (FOI), together with the Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project and Sierra Club, is suing the U.S. Forest Service for allowing KORE Mining’s destructive activities to proceed.

“This is a bad project for the community of Mammoth Lakes, Southern Mono County, and negatively impacts wildlife, including the imperiled bi-state sage grouse, and our recreational tourism economy,” FOI Executive Director Wendy Schneider said. “It provides no benefit to the people of Mono County.”

What can I do?

Mammoth Lakes area activists are organizing a peaceful protest this Saturday, Nov. 20, from Noon to 3 p.m. A Facebook page that provides details has been set up. You can access it by clicking here or on the button below.

“The goal of this protest is to bring awareness to community members in Mammoth Lakes and the Eastern Sierra about KORE Mining’s intentions to implement an open pit gold mine,” the protest Facebook page says. “We are encouraging folks to make signs and banners in preparation for the event.”

Friends of the Inyo supports this peaceful protest.

End to a tough year

Those of a certain age will remember Porky Pig’s sign off, “ba-dee, ba-dee, ba-dee, that’s all folks,” as the 2021 fishing season ends on many of our rivers today. And if you remember the joys of Porky Pig and his friends Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny and hapless Elmer Fudd, you probably hope for another year, instead of taking it for granted.  I certainly know I do.

If 2020 was our COVID year, 2021 has been all about reentry, and it’s hard to figure. Everybody seems to be mad and raging about something.  I have opinions, but my posts, all 635 of them, are not political here on LA River. I just began my 11th year, which is hard to believe.

The moon shines brightly before dawn on the banks of Oregon’s Owyhee River, named for the old spelling of Hawaii. (Jim Burns)

Also, as readers have noticed, I don’t write nearly as much as I used to. I’ve trimmed back on traditional print as well, so you won’t see my byline in California Fly Fisher, but I’ll continue for Fallon’s Angler. At this point in my life, I get to be choosy.

Back to the year. From Western press reports, I expected overrun river conditions along the likely suspects, where new anglers would resemble a herd of raging bulls in Pamplona. Heat, passion and too much flask time can lead to inconsideration for your fellow anglers. So can just plain etiquette ignorance. One of the beautiful things about fly fishing is how much respect we have for each other on the water, as well as for fish and their habitats. Let’s not lose that beautiful part of our sport as our numbers increase. “Share the water.”

Sign from the West Fork in better days. (Jim Burns)

I still mourn the loss of the West Fork of the San Gabriel because of the Bobcat Fire, which, as it turns out, is irreplaceable as a beauty spot within a short drive from L.A. that had lots of small rainbows, a bike lane, shade and happy times. When it will actually return to those conditions, is anyone’s guess, but the stream is slated to reopen April 1, 2022. I hope that date isn’t another sign of things to come.

I was lucky enough to fish the nearest good water from L.A., the Kern, in winter and spring with no other anglers in sight on the 20-Mile Stretch. I went out with Rob Buehler of Buehler Brothers fame, on each occasion. Great guide and great guy.  

Spring became summer with the drought tightening a dry, dusty grip across the West. Did you know Elko, Nevada, still has a fly shop and a weekly fishing column? The columnist and shop owner, Joe Doucette, even calls you back when you’re trying to find a spot to catch a Bonneville Cutthroat Trout in Nevada’s Great Basin National Park. For lots of reasons, that didn’t happen (yet), but my chats with Joe led me to a beaver pond in Nevada’s Ruby Range, full of small, radiant cutties. My wife and I missed a mountain lake, but even with a sky dirty gray from persistent Western wildfires, those small fish were a wonder to behold.

Next, I skipped Idaho’s Henry’s Fork out of agoraphobia, and instead went desert fishing on the awesome Owyhee River in Oregon at the Idaho border. Andrew Catt and I left Boise at 4:30 in the morning to beat the unrelenting summer heat. After an hour’s drive, we found very cold water and very active browns, even as the temperature soared into the high 90s.

Hanging with Seattle Pat on a cold night in the Western Sierra (Credit Jack Train)
TUSC’s Luis Rincon gets snowbound after the group woke up to an unexpected snowfall. (Credit Michelle)

The end of the season found me on the Western side of the Sierra last month with Trout Unlimited South Coast friends and new friends. The water levels at Edison and Henderson were heart-bracingly low, as was the drive into the back country through acres and acres of Camp Fire burn. We’d cancelled our trip with Jimmie Morales last year because of COVID, so it was pretty amazing to have Pat from Seattle, Jack, the nomad, and Rocky from Texas come join in. Several of our group without all-wheel drive vehicles got snowed in and had to spend an extra day. (Some have all the luck … .)

As for the LA River, it continues to be the source of crazy stories, like the one my friend, Bob, told me recently about the opera singer who enjoys the same carp honey hole. Only in LA, right? Earlier in the year, Bob and I couldn’t figure out what the mysterious raindrops in a forlorn pond were all about, until with a net he and his fiancée, Karen, discovered lots of large bullfrog tadpoles coming up for air. At first, I was madly casting to them, thinking they were blue sunfish rises!

So, readers, my fishy advice? Enjoy getting outdoors; enjoy the camaraderie of those of like mind; put yourself on a social media diet; show the ones you love how much you actually do love them and keep a little in reserve for those who come off cranky, but probably just need a hug. Keep it light and easy streamside, our refuge. This year I fished with guys who have wildly different political views from mine, and guess what – we all enjoyed each other’s much-needed company.

What will next year bring us all? As Porky Pig might stutter, “Stay tuned, folks … .”

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Influential Osprey Magazine publishes 100th issue, adds online presence

After three decades of advocating for wild steelhead in print, now you can read these in-depth scientific article online at http://www.ospreysteelhead.org. Please also consider donating to this important organization. (Courtesy Osprey Magazine)

Yvon Chouinard, founder of the outdoor clothing company Patagonia, legendary mountaineer, conservationist, and steelheader once said “science without activism is dead science.” That could have made a pretty darned good motto for The Osprey. With this edition, we celebrate our 100th issue of bringing vital information about dwindling populations of wild Pacific salmon and steelhead in service of their recovery and conservation.

While we cover a broad range of subjects, including wild fish policy and management plan analysis, opinion, news and even legal matters, our core focus has always been to bring the latest, cutting-edge wild fish science forward, to inform our audience of fish researchers and managers, professional conservationists, angler activists, and everyone else who cares about the future of wild salmon and steelhead.

Rainy day reading list from World Rivers Day

Here’s an excellent list of books about rivers from World Rivers Day. Some titles I recognize, some I don’t. With fishing season closed for the winter, these books could keep you company on your fly-tying bench. They’ve got “the movie” at No. 5. I’m definitely going to check out No. 13, “How to Think Like a Fish.” Wonder if it will help me with my backcast?

Tight lines, Jim

  • 1. For those with little ones in their lives, Mark Angelo’s new illustrated children’s book, “The Little Creek that Could; the story of a stream that came back to life” has just been released. Based on a true stream restoration story that unfolded over the past 50 years, the book is an inspirational and hopeful tale about how nature can heal itself, if only we give it a chance – a wonderful and timely message for kids. The book is also a tribute to all those that strive to clean-up and restore rivers.
  •  2. Another much anticipated book is Rivers Run Through Us; A Natural and Human History of Great Rivers of North America by Eric Taylor. This book is an engaging, informative, and personal exploration of some of the great rivers of North America and highlights the fact that every river has a great story to tell. 
  • 3. The Emerald Mile by Kevin Fedarko.
  • 4. The River Why by David James Duncan. 
  • 5. A River Runs Through It by Norman Mclean. 
  • 6. In addition, Highland River by Neil M Gunn is a wonderful story of a young man who returns to the fishing village of Caithness, Scotland, to follow his home river to its source. 
  • 7. Running the Amazon by Joe Kane from back in 1989 remains a great adventure. 
  • 8. Rod Haig Brown’s classic, A River Never Sleeps. 
  • 9. Where Rivers Run: A 6,000-Mile Exploration of Canada by Canoe by Joanie and Gary McGuffin. 
  • 10. Robert Collins’ The Nile is an excellent and informative book.
  •  11. And Blue River, Black Sea; a journey along the Danube into the heart of New Europe by Andrew Eames chronicles an incredible journey while providing a sparkling history of south-eastern Europe. 
  • 12. For a white knuckle ride, Hell or High Water: surviving Tibet’s Tsangpo River is as good as it gets.
  • 13. How to Think Like a Fish by Jeremy Wade is perfect for any fishing aficionado.
  • 14. Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat remains an excellent guide for any serious Thames River pilgrim. 
  • 15. And for those with an interest “down-under,” the book, Rivers: The Lifeblood of Australia, by Ian Hoskins is filled with amazing images and a wealth of information.

Two inspiring videos from two inspiring conservation orgs

Ultimately, we sort of have an ecologically illiterate society, and issues like climate change, it’s kind of dangerous that our average citizens don’t know how the world functions and how we connect to it. We’re more connected than we think. We need each other more than we think.”
 —Paul Rogers, director of Utah State University’s Western Aspen Alliance, on the lessons aspens can teach us | The Gazette

CalTrout: From ‘fishing for fun’ to ‘catch and release’

Trout Unlimited: “The biggest threat to our world is the disconnection between people”