The Current Magazine Summer 2018 - Page 5

Drew Braugh stood on the new footbridge spanning Hat Creek and pointed upstream at the 15-inch rainbow trout finning in the lee of a large clump of aquatic vegetation. The trout was easily visible in the clear water. It swung from side to side in the gentle current, now and then taking a nymph. “Two years ago,” he said, “there were almost no plants here. This part of the creek looked like a desert — gray sand flats, no place for a trout. Since we put in the large wood structures, the current has slowed, and the vegetation has begun to return.”

Several large patches of elodea, looking like dark green pillows on the sandy bottom, undulated in the slow current. Other trout became visible as we watched, moving around the edges of the plants, seeking food, competing for territory.

"See how the wood structures create pool habitat for fish by concentrating flow and scouring sediment?" He pointed to an area of restored streambed where the redirected flow had flushed the gray sand downstream. Against the stream bank, dense aquatic vegetation flourished and plants were taking hold for the first time in years. “Over there, the vegetation has grown in, and it’s full of bugs and trout.”

Drew is the man who has led the Hat Creek restoration. As the Shasta/Klamath Regional Director for California Trout, he has guided the process from its conception in 2010 to the beginning of actual work in 2012. He and his team have raised the money to make it possible. He supervised the instream habitat restoration and the installation of the footbridge. In partnership with the Pit River Tribe and the Lomakatsi Restoration Project, he helped coordinate the extensive planting and trail-building efforts. The first phase was completed in the fall of 2017.

Photo by Mike Wier


originally appeared in California Fly Fisher's June issue