November 11 2013
When I caught this trout three years ago I was ecstatic. It was my first visit to Colorado. I had heard they had a very exquisite trout that was native to the state and could only be found on a few streams and lakes here. It was the greenback cutthroat. So I went looking for them. I found a stream that was known to have them and must have caught 20+ “greenbacks”. It felt good to know there was a thriving population of those fish. They were gorgeous; and, to me they served as a physical reminder of one reason Tenkara USA exists, which is to help care for environments where trout are found.
Lo and behold it turned out these were not actually greenback cutthroat as I and everyone else thought at the time. Through recent genetic testing it was discovered that the trout I caught on that trip were actually West Slope Cutthroats, a fish that, to the naked eye is actually identical to the greenbacks (which is why it took so long to discover this).
The fact they were not greenbacks did not diminish my memories nor the beauty of these fish. But, what I later discovered alarmed me a bit: there are only about 750 pure greenback cutthroat left in the world! And, they can only be found on Bear Creek, which has been called a “pity of a stream” due to the real threats it faces with erosion-prone soil, poor trails, and real human threats.
I would like to ask you for your help in protecting these 750 fish left in the wild. An Indiegogo campaign was just launched with the aim of raising money to work directly on protecting these fish. Tenkara USA has taken particular interest in this cause because it is a fish native to our new home of Colorado, but this should not mean that if you don’t live in Colorado you shouldn’t help. This project is being undertaken by a Trout Unlimited group called The Greenbacks, but I think it serves as a great example of the things that can be accomplished in protecting fish and fish habitat anywhere. It is the type of project that serves to inspire groups in other parts of the country and could be a model to future fish habitat and protection projects.
Please visit the 1of750.com website for more info and check out the Indiegogo campaign to pledge some money. You can get a Tenkara USA set (I’ll be changing my donation from the Iwana that is advertised to any Tenkara USA rod, including a new one that will be released soon); a Vedavoo pack with the Greenback patch, or a trip with me.