July 18th, 2010

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Sunday, July 18th, 2010

Our demons are our own limitations, which shut us off from the realization of the ubiquity of the spirit…each of these demons is conquered in a vision quest.

-Joseph John Campbell

Ask most Arizona anglers how many trout streams they can name on the National Forest portion (non-reservation) of the White Mountains in the eastern part of the state and I would guess their answer would be less than a dozen. In reality, there are far more. Taking out a map and not counting forks of the same name, I stopped listing them at 33. This includes only waters I have fished or have very reliable second-hand knowledge of. The fact is, they are everywhere.

Apache-Rainbow on Feeding Station

Trout on Station

As proved by a recent outing,  they are as different as they are everywhere.

The past few days, I passed some time fishing with Joe DiSilvestro. Joe has a keen interest in indigenous and wild trout of the West and has spent considerable time and effort over several decades pursuing these fish in their native habitats, including the White Mountains. He is also one of the finest small stream anglers I have ever seen. His bow and arrow casts shoot true, threading through tree and willow to deliver his fly to targets small as a dinner plate.

I have stomped around the streams of Eastern Arizona, and the West at large, for a few decades myself. So after a conversation, Joe and I made plans to show each other some waters one of us had fished, but the other had not.

On  mid-elevation feeders of the San Fransisco River, we found brown trout in beaver dams and plunge pools protected by New Mexican Locust and shaded by Arizona Ash and Ponderosa Pine. We saw turkey and elk.

Along two high-elevation streams of the Little Colorado River drainage we fooled Apache-Rainbow hybrids under the shadow of Ponderosa Pine, Quaking Aspen, and Douglas Fir.

Apache Rainbow Hybrid

Apache Rainbow Hybrid

From the runs, riffles, and pools of a  remote alpine stretch on a  fork of the Black River, we sampled resident Brown and Apache Trout. A Bighorn Sheep was sighted among the spruce and through the willows.

We probably covered about ten miles of trout stream in the three days and double that in terms of miles walked. Each mile was as different as our names – Joe and Mike. On the converse, many people share our names but each is a different a person. As such are  trout streams: defined by differences in flora, fauna, and topography, yet waters united in ubiquity.