As my eyes took in the side hill to the south, I noticed the white mustache and pointed ears of a mountain lion lying on a large boulder about 100 yards from where I sat. I didn’t see it move, and it was looking right at me so assumed that it had been watching me from the moment I arrived.
Participants were extremely satisfied with the experience—especially the opportunity to see these mysterious creatures in the flesh. There was also talk of how therapeutic it was to sit in the darkness and watch the stars from lawn chairs.
My charges include over 200 species of birds and dozens of mammals. Many of the latter (such as pygmy rabbits, American pika and northern flying squirrels) are poster children for cuteness. Most of our sensitive species can fit in your hand. One of these “sensitive” critters—and by far the largest of them—requires at least two people to handle: the California condor.
Each summer, more than 60 employees from the DWR’s northern region spend a day together, improving wildlife habitat and a local DWR facility. In June of 2012, we held our annual workday at the Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area (WMA).
Bear Lake cutthroat trout follow the same tributaries during their early-June spawning run. The tributaries to the reservoir are currently closed to fishing. Though the water is a little murky in June, you can still watch them in the river as they work their way upstream to spawn.
Fish activity and feeding really heats up along reservoir shorelines in the spring. The sun warms the shallow areas of water first, and fish naturally move into this water to bask and feed. The resulting activity attracts anglers and fishery biologists, both with the same goal: to catch a lot of fish.
Our total catch was 681 fish, including 443 rainbows, 236 browns and a couple whitefish. Our PIT tag recapture rate was around 19 percent, which is similar to what we normally see. The big fish of the night was a rainbow trout that stretched the measuring stick to nearly 22 inches, while the longest brown was just less than 19 inches.
The chaining removed pinyon and juniper trees in order to establish grasses, forbs and shrubs. These trees provide hiding spots and thermal cover for deer and elk, which is like a bedroom. By removing islands of trees and aerial seeding the area with quality plant species, we create a kitchen, and they still have a bedroom too. It’s a habitat remodel of sorts.
All winter I’ve been looking forward to the ice coming off at two reservoirs where I’ll have a good chance of doing both—catching lots of big fish. This spring you’ll find me at Scofield and Joes Valley reservoirs.
Now that these ponds are being stocked weekly, it’s the perfect time to start getting out there with family and friends. Whether it’s for the family interaction, some quality time with a spouse or just to reacquaint with nature, community fisheries offer ideal outdoor settings.
Every spring from early March until late April, male sage-grouse engage in a fascinating blend of dancing, vocalization and fighting. The fiercest males move toward the center of a clearing in the sagebrush, signaling upward climb in rank.
Writing and wildlife: two of my favorite Ws. As a crafty, wild-haired seven-year-old, I once created a storybook about a family of bears, complete with illustrations and curly ribbon binding. I loved to get dirty outside, play with bugs and polish rocks. Now, as a technical writer for the DWR, I’ve taken it to the next level.