One person watching the weeks of muddy waters flow into Star Valley’s main river is avid angler and writer Paul Stauffer.
No person knows more about the history of Star Valley’s waterways than the author of A History of Fishing in Star Valley, Wyoming — The Waters, the Fish, the Anglers, the Managers and the Challenges.
Stauffer is watching one of those “challenges” unfold now as the mudslide in Swift Creek Canyon is filling the waters of the Salt River with milky brown mud.
“What will this do to Brown Trout spawning in the fall,?” he queries, in addition to summer fly hatches. “Clean gravel is important.”
Stauffer warned the slide will have an extending effect on this summer’s fly hatches. “With the interfaces in the gravel filling with silt you won’t have the Mayfly hatches, you won’t have the Stone-fly hatches, and the Candis-fly hatches that the fish feed on. They won’t be as plentiful until that is cleared out .”
With a little smile he included, “Nobody likes to fish in muddy water, except a guy with a bobber and worm.”
The fisherman draws on his experience referring to a time when he watched an unusually heavy winter season fill Star Valley with spring and early summer floods.
“In 1971 we had a big winter and then a few days in June we had 80-degree weather,” he recalled. “There was more snow in the mountains and the [Salt River] river became a lake for nearly a month. There wasn’t even a the channel [for the river] on July 1.”
In the years following ‘71 he recalled important gravel bottoms still covered in mud. “Clean gravel is important,” he emphasized. “After ‘71 you left a trail of silt,” when walking the river.
He recalled the Wyoming Game and Fish doing stocking to accommodate for the loss in the fisheries.
“The years following with dry fly fishing were not as good and we switched to minnows and whatever worked,” recalled Stauffer. “The Game and Fish planted a lot because spawning probably decreased.”
Stauffer included the need for clean deep channels and flanked by willows on today’s River as part of his conversation with SVI Media.
You can hear Stauffer’s full interview on svinews.com/radio.