A Native Odyssey Blog Post 10: Idaho

Public Land:

Mmmm Trout Snack

Mmmm Trout Snack


Sawtooth National Forest

     The Sawtooth National Forest encompasses 2,110,408 acres largely in Idaho, but also partially in Utah. It is comprised of multiple terrain types including sagebrush steppe, spruce-fir forests, and alpine tundra. Throughout these terrains there are 3,500 miles of rivers and streams. The area is currently managed by the U.S. Forest Service as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The forest offers visitors multiple recreation options. Over 1,000 miles of hiking trails are available, along with four ski areas, fishing opportunities, and whitewater boating. 81 campgrounds dot the area so it is not hard to find a place to pop up a tent.

-       Matt Crockett

Native Trout:

Austin Holds a Westslope Cutthroat Trout

Austin Holds a Westslope Cutthroat Trout

Westslope cutthroat trout

     These trout were first discovered in 1805, when the Lewis and Clarke expedition took note of their existence. Westslope cutthroat trout (WCT) used to herald the most habitat of all species of cutthroat trout found in the American west, but today they occupy only half of their historical range. Traditional human land uses as well as invasive species have contributed to the decline of the species. However, genetically pure WCT inhabit a few major watersheds where they still persevere. These include the Flathead River in Montana, as well as portions of the Salmon and Priest Rivers in Idaho. These trout have forever been a symbol of the American west, and hopefully we are able to keep it that way.

Bull Trout

A juvenile Bull Trout

A juvenile Bull Trout

     Bull trout, which are actually a species of char, are distributed in the Northern Rockies of the United States. These fish require cold, clean, and clear water to thrive, and can be found in many headwater streams, lakes, and larger river systems such as the Boise River in Idaho. Bull trout are inherently a migratory species, and because of this, culverts, dams, and roads can inhibit their migratory and spawning abilities. Bull trout face many threats from introduced species such as Lake trout and Northern pike, as well as several climate change related impacts. The population of Bull trout in the United States has changed little since 1998, but 60 percent of their current habitat is at risk.

-       Jacob Lacy

Our Experience:

A look at Bull trout. 

     We have now arrived in Idaho in search of the species we have all been waiting for – the big bad Bull trout. Every person we have crossed paths with across our trip that has experienced this trophy species told us tales that we could only dream of. All accounts pointed out that they were big, their appetites were bigger, and they were always eager to eat a fly.

     Our initial Bull trout encounter was unplanned and very exciting. We were fishing the Blackfoot river in Montana in search of Westslope cutthroat trout. We hiked (I scooted) down a huge slope to the Blackfoot river. We came across this crystal blue pool and managed to catch quite a few Westslope cutties. Beautiful 8-12 in. fish, but nothing close to what we saw next. There were 2 foot-plus Bull trout swimming through this pool and our jaws dropped. Their yellow bellies gleamed through the water. Due to high levels of Bull trout protection on the Blackfoot, we could only watch these monsters from the bank.

     The majority of Bull trout water is protected. They are fragmented across the country in an assortment of areas but the ability to plop a fly in front of their nose is highly illegal in most areas. The Yankee Fork provided us with the opportunity to knock Bull trout off our bucket list. We fished a smaller stretch of water, overgrown with vegetation. The entire team managed to catch a few Bull trout on small dry flies.  

     Bull trout were different than any species of trout I have come across yet. They had a slender body, almost like a mullet and were very easy to distinguish from other trout. Mission accomplished. Smaller than predicted, but still exciting nevertheless. 

-     Heather Harkavy 

"A Native Odyssey"- Application Overview

Photo Credit:  Nicholas J. Gragtmans

Photo Credit:  Nicholas J. Gragtmans


"I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us."- Theodore Roosevelt

Today, Theodore Roosevelt’s public land legacy and the wildlife that he sought to protect are under siege.  Members of our government are seeking to dismantle his legacy through the sale of OUR public spaces, thereby threating many of our nation’s endangered species and denying Americans their fundamental right to explore our country’s last untouched wildernesses.

This summer we will be sending several students from the TU Costa 5 Rivers College program on an epic cross country journey—fishing, exploring, and discovering the public lands and the native trout that inhabit them, the way Teddy envisioned all of those years ago.

Together, we can share the stories of our native fish and the importance of conserving those lands for future generations. Stand up and tell Congress to keep their hands off OUR public land!

Do you have what it takes?!?

Photo Credit: Nicholas J. Gragtmans

Photo Credit: Nicholas J. Gragtmans

Trip Details:

We will be selecting 4 or 5 students from at least two TU Costa 5 Rivers Clubs to embark on an eight week, all-expenses paid fishing excursion during the months of June and July 2017. Students will attempt to catch all 15 Western native trout species on public lands in several states. Students will “take over” Trout Unlimited’s and Trout Unlimited Costa 5 Rivers social media pages during the length of the trip and will be responsible for creating their own content documenting the trip. It is imperative that applicants demonstrate excellent experience in at least one of the fields of photography, videography, and/or writing. Applicants should also possess all of the necessary equipment (cameras, editing software, camping gear, etc.) needed for the trip. Students that are selected for the trip will be outfitted with sponsor equipment and apparel.

How to Apply:

Make a short Instagram video or album with some of your best fishing-related content describing why you care about public lands, clean water, and the reasons you should win the trip. When you post it, use hashtag #anativeodyssey and tag @Tucosta5rivers @Troutunlimited @U.S.forestservice. Your profile must also be set to PUBLIC. If you do not tag appropriately, we will be unable to process your application. You can apply as a single applicant or as a pair. If you apply as a pair, please tag the second person in your post as well.  

Ideal candidates should:

•       Possess strong photography, videography, and/or writing skills

•       Be active members in a TU Costa 5 Rivers affiliated club

•       Have a passion for public lands and native trout

•       Possess strong interpersonal skills and be able to work effectively in small groups

•       Be avid anglers

•       Be willing and able to hike into rugged and remote areas

•       Be willing and able to use their own camping, camera, fishing and other equipment necessary for the trip

NOTE: Applicant’s having access to a fully-insured vehicle (preferably 4WD or AWD) is a definite plus. Students will use one or two personal vehicles on the Odyssey.

Instagram application videos and albums must be in published by April 16th. We will then pick a handful of our favorite submissions for a second round interview, and then announce our winners on April 20th.

For more information, please reach out to Andrew Loffredo, the TU Costa 5 Rivers Coordinator, at Aloffredo@tu.org .

Photo Credit:  Nicholas J. Gragtmans

Photo Credit:  Nicholas J. Gragtmans