Golfing, fishing for a local cause

Flyfishers raise $51,150 for stream improvements in tournament

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— The Yampa Valley Flyfishers raised $51,150 at the organization's annual Golf Trout Tournament last weekend, and 276 trout did their part.

Golf Trout is an unusual competition that requires participating teams to score points by catching (and releasing) trout and by playing a traditional best-ball golf tournament. The proceeds go to leverage grants needed for the ongoing stream habitat improvement project on the Yampa River at the Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area. The wildlife area is just south of Steamboat Springs city limits.

The Flyfishers have tackled the stream project through their separate Yampa Valley Stream Improvement Charitable Trust.

The organization already has raised $90,000 in cash to help leverage the $700,000 budget for the three-phase project. The Flyfishers made significant progress on Phase 1 this summer when heavy equipment was used to pry the rusted bodies of old automobiles out of the riverbank. The cars were placed there decades ago in a misguided effort to stave off erosion.

Steve Henderson, one of the Golf Trout Tournament organizers, said 19 teams participated. All of the fishing was done on private waters donated by the landowners. In aggregate, this year's anglers, all accompanied by a professional volunteer guide, landed and released 276 fish.

The first-place team was the Marabou squad, which fished the Elk River. Team Bucking Rainbow was second, and team Wells Fargo placed third in the fishing phase of the competition.

Bucking Rainbow sealed the deal by winning the golf tournament. Jeff Sussman's team placed second. The team led by Bill Davis was third.

The golf tournament took place once again at the Sheraton Steamboat Golf Course.

Members of the Golf Trout Committee, in addition to Henderson, include Jim Zuccone, Paul Russell, John and Jaret Duty, Ernie Theil, Brian Jarrell, Jim Curd and Jeff Ruff.

The work at "The Chuck" - as the Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area is affectionately known - will include condensing the main channel of the river to make it deeper in low-water periods. They'll rebuild point bars that deflect the current and install subsurface rock clusters in riffles to improve trout habitat.

The project goes beyond the actual river channel to include planting native shrubs in an effort to stabilize banks the natural way.

The plan also calls for preventing predatory northern pike from accessing spawning areas while maintaining backwater sloughs for waterfowl.

Conservationists, anglers and others who were unable to take part in the Golf Trout Tournament can make a contribution toward the charitable trust by visiting www.yvff.org or by calling Henderson at Steamboat Flyfisher, 879-6552.

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