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RepYourWater

Native Trout from the High Country

Just a few hours south of us here on the Front Range of Colorado, in the mountains of northern, New Mexico lies Vermejo Park Ranch. The ranch has a great little retail shop and fly shop that sells both RepYourWater and RepYourWild apparel, so if you visit, definitely stop in! We were lucky enough to get to check out a few spots on this pristine ranch recently. However, at just under 600,000 acres, it would take years to get to know the place. It was spectacular to spend time casting dry flies to native Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout in the high mountain valleys where the only sounds are the bird songs from the forest edge.

Vermejo Park Reserve has restored over 100 miles of stream in the upper Costilla watershed to be purely Rio Grande Cutthroat. They are truly little gems in the clear high altitude water.

Western Tanagers in the pines, and native par marks from the tiny creeks as bird song and the sounds of running water fill the air.

The fish are just part of the experience at Vermejo, as the ranch is full of Bison, Mule Deer, Antelope, Wild Turkeys and an incredible elk population. It is very much a high end, luxury destination, but if you have the means, we recommend you check it out and soak up some high mountain air...





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Escape to Jurassic Lake

Sitting in the rain shadow of the mighty Andes, the Patagonian steppe is a beautiful but austere landscape. Due to low amounts of precipitation and frequent high winds, it is hard to find any vegetation much taller than your knee. Seedsnipe call from the scattered boulder outcroppings and Black Chested Buzzard Eagles patrol overhead. Winding through this remote country is the Barrancoso River, a small river fed from the snow on far distant peaks. The river's journey ends when it hits an old volcano caldera and forms the miles wide "Jurassic Lake". 

Photo Credit Jurassic Lake Lodge

Technically Lago Strobel by name, it is our understanding that the lake was coined "Jurassic Lake" by some of the first fishermen to discover its rainbow trout treasures so they could talk about it without giving away its location. This has become a moot point, as the lake is fortunately or unfortunately entirely on private land and not accessible to DIY anglers. However, there are a couple of established fishing lodges that provide access to the lucky and adventurous anglers who make the trip. Corinne and I have stayed at Jurassic Lake Lodge twice over the past few years and it is a place that has become a home away from home. It sits exactly where you want to be, right above the river mouth overlooking where the river joins the lake, and the wine and food are excellent to boot. 

The evaporation off of the lake is so constant and so intense that there is no river outflow, creating a "terminal lake" that is one of the most productive trout fisheries in the world. Why? Well of course a productive fishery starts at the very bottom and works up - the alkaline water creates a nutrient balance that supports a massive scud (freshwater shrimp) population. These scuds are so plentiful and such a rich diet for the trout that the growth rates of fish in the lake seem to be astronomical. It is not uncommon to catch a smaller individual (small in this piece of water becomes relative very fast), that has a tiny head and tiny fins in relation to its body size due to these growth rates. I also think there has to be some limitation to the fish spawning success in the river as the average size of the fish in the lake does not seem to be decreasing over time. In any other large body of water with a huge food source where non-native salmonids were introduced, eventually the numbers of fish go up and the average size goes down. Think of lake Taupo on the North Island of New Zealand for example... But I digress here and I am not a fish biologist, so that remains pure conjecture on my part.

As you walk down to the lake, a very crisp breeze on your face, the sound of waves breaking gets louder and louder. When you hit the shoreline and look out for cruisers the water is a crystalline, almost unnatural looking shade of turquoise blue. You wade into the cold water off of the rock pebble beach, strip off some floating line and send a bugger out past the line of turbid water created by the shoreline chop. Let it sit for a slow count of two and then start a slow, methodical retrieve. Eight feet later you feel a subtle double tick come through the fly line to your fingertips. Instinctually you set hard and immediately feel the explosive power of a chrome fish that will easily clear 12lbs. This is when you need to clear line as the first hot run takes your slack line and the fish jumps repeatedly heading offshore. If all goes well, and you are on a solid hook, minutes later you will be looking at one of the fattest, cleanest, healthiest looking trout you have ever seen. 

The river offers a whole different experience all its own. The opportunity to sight fish to a 6lb fish in small pocket water is pretty unique. Dry fly fishing can also be fantastic on the lake and the river. When the wind does die down and slicks out the lake, the fishing can become a bit more technical and dry flies are often the best play...

In my estimation, if you factor in numbers of fish, and average size of fish (the 20lb mark is not uncommon), there is not a better trout fishery in the world right now. I would love to hear of a better one, so please feel free to give me a heads up if you have a good lead. In the meantime, when we can once again travel you may find us back down at Jurassic Lake Lodge sipping a glass of malbec and watching the moon rise over the lake in a star leaden southern sky.

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Escape to the Bolivian Jungle

While almost all of us are locked down waiting for this terrible pandemic to run its course, I am revisiting some favorite destinations and adventures that I have taken over the past few years with my partner in business, life and adventure, Corinne. While we have always been extremely grateful for the opportunities to go on such explorations, our current crisis certainly lends a new perspective and appreciation. It also re-affirms our commitment to get back out and explore, whether near or far, when this virus passes, and it will pass.

There are not that many places in the world today where you can fish a relatively large river system that is completely untouched by modern man made infrastructure of any kind for hundreds of miles. The Secure River in the Bolivian Amazon is one such place. Located in a National Park and Indigenous territory at the foot of the Andes, this river system offers the fly fisherman the opportunity to fish a system that has no dams, no adjacent roads and no agricultural use. And the biomass in the river reflects it! Untamed Angling operates one of their Tsimane Lodges here, and we were lucky enough to go there and explore in search of Golden Dorado, Pacu and a few other river dwellers.

Golden Dorado are a fish that in my estimation are so unique that it is tough to compare them to any other freshwater fish. But if forced to, I would compare their tendency to seek out structure once hooked to a big brown trout (they love log jams), and their proclivity to jump as soon as you stick them to a baby tarpon. However, neither of those fish have cutting teeth that can take a clean bite out of any other fish like a small shark, and neither of those fish hunt in schools with the aggression and violence of Golden Dorado. When a group of them gets a school of baitfish cornered, the river literally erupts into whitewater froth similar to a jack frenzy on the surface of the ocean.

One piece of this Golden Dorado hunting strategy that is particularly challenging for the fly angler is that they love to steal bites of fish out of each others mouths. In other words, if one grabs a fish like a dog bone, his peers will try to bite chunks off of the side. In practice this means when you hook one, his buddies will try to bite at the fly. If they do, it usually results in a flossed line, and if that fish gets above your standard 40lb wire bite tippet you are toast.

So picture me on a rocky gravel bar looking at a run not dissimilar to a trout stream - deep fast current with a log jam on the far side creating some great structure and soft water. I cast a 3/0 black over red deceiver at the log jam and strip it out, fast. Golden Dorado like a retrieve more akin to a saltwater fish - pretty fast to really fast. As I strip out from the log jam I get lit up by my first fish that is well over the 5lb mark. The first thing our guide Santiago does, is run full speed into the run at the fish I just hooked! I look at him like what in the flying f*%ck are you doing? He was of course attempting to scare off his buddies so they would not floss my line! 

The other primary fish to target out of the Secure River Tsimane Lodge is the Pacú. One of the largest relatives of the Piranha family, Pacú are not specialized meat eaters but rather omnivores that eat more plant material - nuts, fruits, berries, flowers and leaves. Although they will definitely eat other fish or even other animals that fall into the river given the opportunity. They patrol deeper pools and investigate most things that "plop" into the water. Because of their diet they're teeth are extremely powerful and bare an uncanny resemblance to human teeth. It is a strange experience the first time you get in there with a forceps to free your fly!

Pacú unlike Golden Dorado do not typically jump. They are an unusual freshwater fish in that the RUN, no messing around, no stand and fight headshakes, no jumping around, they just RUN. And fast. These intense distance runs, wariness and pickiness in taking flies has earned them the nickname "the Permit of the Jungle". 

I had the opportunity to set up on the far side of a deep, slow canyon run on a day when the water was running crystal clear. There I watched as a big Pacú fed in an eddy on the far side. Their coloration varies, but some of the larger ones like this one was getting really dark, almost black with a purple sheen to them. After patterning this fish for a while I was able to blast a cast with a clipped deceiver over to him. You want to cast in such a manner that your fly really hits the water with a pronounced "plop" - as if it has fallen many feet from a huge overhanging tree. As soon as my fly hit the water he sprinted the 3' to it and hammered it. Game on. I do not think I have ever seen my fly line rip off of my reel that fast in freshwater...

On another day we were fishing well down river from the Lodge, here the river changes character and spreads out into many braids, runs and sandy dropoffs. The water was a bit off color after a hit of rain so sight fishing was out. This does not necessarily mean a dropoff in productivity, many times just the opposite, but it does mean more blind fishing at log jams, drop offs and rocky structure. Corinne was positioned upstream from me working a drop off on the far side of the run when she snagged on a log or some such, not uncommon when the visibility is down. Except when Corinne and our guide waded out towards the snag to see if the fly was recoverable, the "log" began to slowly motor upstream. That is when Corinne new that she had a fish of some sort on, but definitely not a Golden Dorado or Pacú! As Corinne crossed the river half a dozen times chasing this fish that continued to bulldog around the river, I was helpless to assist. So I naturally proceeded to bark stereotypical and inane advice at her like "keep it tight" repeatedly. You do what you can. After a good battle she was able to get the fish into shallow water and we were able to tail the Surubí catfish. It was a specimen, with the characteristic graffiti like calligraphic markings all over. It proceed to grunt, croak and bark at us until Corinne sent it back into tea colored water.

While the fishing was amazing during our week at the Secure River Tsimane Lodge, with multiple Golden Dorado landed that approached or reached the 20lb mark, the sentiment that stayed with us was the power of such a wild, intact place and ecosystem. We hope to return this July, pending the global travel situation, but if we do not make it back this summer, we will get there at some point. The wildness and intensity are something you want to experience again.

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Coloring Pages

Get out the Crayons or Pencils!

Since most of us have a little bit more time at home in the short term, and many of you have kids at home for the foreseeable future, my fellow co-founder Corinne asked me to whip up three quick "coloring pages" the other day that we have available to download for FREE as 8.5 x 11" PDFs. Hopefully they will provide a fun diversion for you during these strange times! Clink on the images or buttons to download.

-Garrison Doctor, RYW Co-Founder and Designer

Big Brown Coloring Page - Click image to download

Rising Cutthroat Coloring Page- click image to download

Brookie Coloring Page - click image to download

We hope that kids age 2-102 have fun playing around with some colors on these pages!  Please post them on your Instagram with #rywcoloring so we can see some of the finished products!

Garrison Doctor
RepYourWater Co-Founder and Designer

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Big Cutthroat Trout in the Desert

Since writing these original words, the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe has passed a motion to close the lake to all activities Monday March 23rd, with no scheduled reopen date. Strange and unprecedented times. The good news is that the giant Cutthroat trout will be healthier and less pressured than ever when "the big salt" opens back up. Be sure to hit up our friends at Pyramid Fly Company to arrange a trip for when it is back open.

We recently made the pilgrimage to Pyramid Lake in Nevada to soak in the desert landscape, hang with some friends, and experience the pull of some big Lahontan Cutthroat Trout. Having never been, but heard many stories, we were not sure what to expect and we knew that you usually have to put in some pretty solid time on the water to find a larger specimen. With just a few days to get it done, we were excited to just get one of any size in the net! Luckily for us, the weather was good, we got some great tips from friends and we managed to find more than a couple over 10lbs...

The proportions on a the larger "pilot peak" strain of cutthroat out of the lake are something unique to behold in our experience.

- Garrison Doctor

The generally smaller 'summit' strain of Lahontan also get pretty big and the colors on them can be spectacular.

- Corinne Doctor

It is a strange scene and surreal fishery, not just due to the size of this terminal lake and its fish in the desert, but also the scene of fisherman who flock from all over the country to try their hand. But where else do you have a decent shot on any given day of landing a Cutthroat well over 10lbs?

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Building a Partnership – A Driftless Area Restoration Story

Building a Partnership – A Driftless Area Restoration Story

by Ryan Roberts

The Driftless Area Restoration Effort (DARE) is one of 20 Partnerships under the National Fish Habitat Partnership, whose mission is to protect, restore and enhance the nation's fish and aquatic communities through partnerships that foster fish habitat conservation and improve the quality of life for the American people. DARE is also a Conservation Partner of RepYourWater, through their support of Beyond the Pond, the 501c3 Organization established to benefit the National Fish Habitat Partnership. DARE Released a report at the end of 2019, titled “Building a Fish Habitat Partnership”

This report details the complex landscape of the Driftless Area, which represents a 24,000 square mile area was missed by the glaciers that ground down much of the landscape of the Upper Mississippi River Basin. The boulders and rubble left behind by glaciers are known as “glacial drift.” Early geologists noticed its absence and called it the “driftless area.” We are grateful, for what remains are the limestone and sand-stone bluffs and hundreds of cold, clear spring-fed creeks.

The report also highlights projects done in partnership with several federal, state, local government agencies, as well as several NGO’s. One of the challenges for the Driftless Area Restoration Effort is hurdles both large and small to overcome when implementing on-the-ground conservation projects to benefit both fish habitat and angling opportunities. The Driftless Area Restoration Effort (DARE) has followed this path, and emerging and unforeseen hurdles face it in the years ahead. As the partnership looks forward, it is envisioned that the future holds hurdles in the form of changing climatic conditions in the region as well as limited resources to develop new and needed initiatives. Climate change is confronting Driftless watersheds in the form of high-intensity, short-duration rain events that have occurred almost every year since 2007. Often, too, they have occurred soon after another similar event, causing more damage and runoff from already saturated soils. Nine inches in six hours slammed into northern Buffalo County, Wisconsin in 2016, followed by six inches in the same period two weeks later. Later the same summer, the Viroqua area received three major events in a six-week period, the last a nine-inch, six-hour storm. In August 2018, Black Earth and its namesake creek suffered a state record 15-inch rainfall in 24 hours. And soon after, two successive rain events hit the Ontario-Elroy area with 23 inches in a week. All these events battered riverside communities and damaged rural infrastructure and older restoration work.   

Please take an opportunity to read the report in its entirety and learn more about the Driftless Area. We are fortunate for the support from RepYourWater to benefit the Driftless Area. Learn More about how to support DARE, HERE. To learn more about the work of the National Fish Habitat Partnership, please visit www.fishhabitat.org.

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RepYourWater Nears Goal of Donating 250K to Conservation Partners

Rick Crawford

BY RCRAWFORD@EMERGERSTRATEGIES.COM ON FEBRUARY 5, 2020 

RepYourWater made giving back to conservation part of its DNA since their inception in 2011 and currently donate a minimum of 3% of all sales to their 19 nonprofit conservation partners such as local chapters of Trout Unlimited, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Bonefish & Tarpon Trust and Wild Steelhead Coalition. In 2019 alone RepYourWater donated $55,874 bringing their lifetime total to $237K.

It’s safe to say that RepYourWater will achieve their goal of donating $250K to conservation by the end of 2020 and RepYourWater Co-Founder, Corinne Doctor had this to say about their effort to support conservation, “We believe that giving back to nonprofit conservation organizations is simply the right thing to do. Ultimately, we want to protect what we love and our conservation partners are the one’s with their boots on the ground fighting to protect and save wild & native fish and public lands & places like the Everglades, for example. But we have our customers to thank because they are the one’s who are equally, if not more, passionate about these important conservation issues, so they have an opportunity to protect what they love by supporting us, so it’s really a win-win-win scenario for RepYourWater, conservation and our customers!”

RepYourWater has also recently released a collection of products that go a step further than giving back to conservation by also improving the social and environmental performance of their products called the “Ethical Assortment”, which includes, among other products, new flannels that are ethically sourced and made from organic cotton. Additionally, RepYourWater has gone zero-waste to landfill and purchased Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) for 100% of their headquarters purchased electricity, so they are not only giving back to conservation, but their operations and products are also exemplifying their beliefs as individuals and as a brand and this also positively resonates with their customers. Stay tuned as RepYourWater will be releasing their third annual Sustainability Report in the coming months and help RepYourWater crush their goals of $250K by 12/31/20 by supporting a brand that measures their success not by how much they can make, but by how much they can give back.

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Exploring Patagonia with ChileTrout

RepYourWater Co-Founders Garrison and Corinne were lucky enough to spend Christmas exploring new water in Chilean Patagonia with their new friends at ChileTrout Lodge. The variety of incredible landscapes and fishing opportunities was matched only by the quality of the trout and the lusciousness of the wines...

From turquoise glacial fed lakes and rivers in the lush temperate rainforest, to gin clear spring creeks in the open grasslands and everything in between, we were blown away by the amount of fishing opportunities in the area. Keep in mind that ChileTrout Lodge is located on a gorgeous lake not too far outside of the town of Coyhaique that is a great fishery in its own right and was right outside our door! While we did not get much in the way of sunny days (it is was early summer in Patagonia), the dry fly and streamer fishing was amazing!

- Garrison Doctor

Wild Brown Trout Goodness

"Every day brought a new adventure and new opportunities but the one consistency was fish far beyond our expectations, amazing shore-side lunches and unforgettable company in beautiful landscapes. Shots at the best brown trout to date were the icing on the cake."       -Corinne Doctor





For more information feel free to shoot us an email anytime at: customerservice@repyourwater.com or contact ChileTrout directly at: info@chiletrout.com

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Introducing Ethically Sourced and Organic Cotton Flannels

Rick Crawford
Founder and CEO of Emerger Strategies

RepYourWater continues to improve their social and environmental performance by working with their suppliers to introduce a line of flannel shirts that are ethically sourced and made with organic cotton for their Fall 2019 collection.

RepYourWater already measures the success of their business in part by how much they can give back to conservation. By donating at least 3% of annual sales to 17 nonprofit conservation partners, they have donated over $220,000.00 to date. Since 2018 they have diverted 97% of their waste from landfill and offset 100% of their greenhouse gas emissions through the purchase of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) from their warehouse and HQ in Erie, CO. Now, RepYourWater is taking the next step in their sustainability journey by diving into the social and environmental impact of their supply chain.


RepYourWater continues to lead by example and has been working diligently on ethically sourced flannels made from sustainable fabric. By partnering with this factory that is using the HIGG Index, SA-8000 Certified Socially Compliant and using Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) Certified yarn, they have done just that. Additionally, the dyes used on these products are AZO free and meet the OEKO-TEX Standard 100, which means the dyes used are free of carcinogens and harmless in terms of human ecological terms. RepYourWater co-founders, Corinne and Garrison Doctor had this to say about addressing the social and environmental performance of their supply chain: 

“We continue to strive to do well by doing good and are proud of our efforts and know our customers will appreciate them. There is always room for improvement and knowing that is what keeps us motivated to continue to make advancements in sustainability. ”

RepYourWater started working with sustainability consulting firm, Emerger Strategies, in 2016 because they wanted to further authenticate their brand by improving the social, environmental and economic performance of their operations and products. Emerger Strategies President, Rick Crawford, had this to say about RepYourWater, “Corinne and Garrison continue to amaze me as they are so passionate about protecting what they love and diving into their supply chain completely validates that.”

ABOUT SA8000 Standard

The SA8000® Standard is the leading social certification standard for factories and organizations across the globe. It was established by Social Accountability International in 1997 as a multi-stakeholder initiative. Over the years, the Standard has evolved into an overall framework that helps certified organizations demonstrate their dedication to the fair treatment of workers across industries and in any country. Elements of the SA8000 Standard include: Child Labor, Forced or Compulsory Labor, Health and Safety, Freedom of Association and Right to Collective Bargaining, Discrimination, Disciplinary Practices, Working Hours, Remuneration, and Management System.

ABOUT Global Organic Textile Standard Yarns

The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibres, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain.

ABOUT OEKO-TEX Standard 100

If a textile article carries the STANDARD 100 label, you can be certain that every component of this article, i.e. every thread, button and other accessories, has been tested for harmful substances and that the article therefore is harmless in human ecological terms. The test is conducted by our independent OEKO-TEX® partner institutes on the basis of our extensive OEKO-TEX® criteria catalog. In the test they take into account numerous regulated and non-regulated substances, which may be harmful to human health. In many cases the limit values for the STANDARD 100 go beyond national and international requirements.

To view RepYourWater’s new Fall 2019 and new Flannels click below.

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Conservation Check In: TU Southern Appalachians

 

Reconnecting Native and Wild Trout: 2014 – 2019

By Andy Brown

In the Southern Appalachian mountains, Trout Unlimited focuses much its work on replacing culverts and fords that block native and wild trout from accessing important habitat with stream crossings that maintain natural stream function and allow fish passage. This work is especially important for the long-term viability of native Eastern Brook Trout, who typically occupy isolated small patches of high elevation source waters and need every bit of coldwater stream that can be made available to them – particularly in the face of a warming climate.  

From 2014 – 2019, TU in the Southern Appalachians built seven Aquatic Organism Passage (AOP) stream crossings in western NC working in close collaboration with the US Forest Service and NC Wildlife Resources Commission. These projects opened up 15 ½ miles of additional coldwater habitat for native and wild trout. As we speak, TU has three other AOP projects in the works for which we are raising funds to hopefully construct in 2020. In addition, we are training TU chapter members and other community volunteers to perform surveys of stream crossings throughout the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forest to identify where additional fish passage barrier projects might exist. Volunteers in 2019 alone have already surveyed over 150 stream crossings. Thankfully most are being shown to be passable for fish but a few culverts are likely to be our next AOP projects in the coming years. 

TU cannot do this work alone. We are grateful for the financial and professional commitments provided by our partners with the US Forest Service and state wildlife agencies in the region whose contributions amount to over 60% of the total cost of our work together. TU is also grateful for the numerous other financial contributors that believe in our work – such as Rep Your Water – helping cover the remaining 40% of costs to put coldwater conservation on the ground.

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