The second iteration of the Ross Reels x Trout Unlimited: Native Series is officially here, and we’re here to tell you all about it. Introducing, the Colorado Cutthroat Native Reel from Ross Reels.
ABOUT THE NATIVE SERIES
Earlier this year, Ross Reels partnered with Trout Unlimited in an effort to restore native trout species throughout the U.S. through an initiative titled: “The Native Series”. As part of the Native Series, Ross Reels and Trout Unlimited aimed to bring awareness and funding to the projects that support the revitalization efforts by releasing beautiful limited-edition reels with designs inspired by the fish they seek to save.
As the first iteration of the Native Series, Ross Reels unveiled the Colorado 2/3 Greenback Cutthroat Reel as a limited edition release this past February.
A mere 495 of these remarkable reels were meticulously crafted, each adorned with a unique identification number ranging from 1 to 495. To commemorate its significance, the reel foot is elegantly engraved with the word “Greenback.”
In addition, $75 from the sale of each special edition reel was dedicated to the noble cause of the Poudre Headwaters Project. The funds raised through this endeavor play an instrumental role in the restoration efforts aimed at preserving the natural habitat of the greenback cutthroat trout in its native range.
During the “Troutfest” event organized by Colorado Trout Unlimited at Coors Field in Denver, Ross Reels proudly presented a grand total of over $31,000, which were the direct proceeds of the February launch of the Greenback Cutthroat reel. The immense success of this venture stands as a testament to the unwavering commitment of both Ross Reels and their devoted customers towards the preservation and conservation of the greenback cutthroat trout species.
Just last week, Ross Reels unveiled their latest creation, the Colorado River Cutthroat Trout Reel. This remarkable reel was specifically designed to support the vital Clear Fork Muddy Creek Project, dedicated to the restoration of the Colorado River cutthroat trout within their native habitat. Renowned for their breathtaking beauty, the Colorado River cutthroat trout has earned its reputation as one of the most awe-inspiring and exquisite fish in all of North America.
Similar to its predecessor, this special edition reel belongs to the distinguished 4/5 Colorado model series, with a limited production of only 495 units. Every purchase of this reel will contribute $75 towards the noble cause of the Clear Fork Muddy Creek Project, aimed at rejuvenating the Colorado River cutthroat trout population and preserving their natural environment within their native range.
To learn more about the new release, we chatted with Trout Unlimited’s Colorado Communications Coordinator: Kyle Perkins. Here’s what he had to say:
Flylords: Can you tell us about the Native Series Project?
Kyle: “The Ross Native Series is a series of limited edition reels that gives back to specific TU efforts to restore and protect native trout species. The first reel in the series, the Greenback Edition, aimed to raise funds that went directly to our Poudre Headwaters Project (PHP). The PHP is Colorado’s largest-ever restoration effort for native trout. The project aims to restore greenback cutthroat trout to nearly 40 miles of connected streams and multiple lakes in the Cache la Poudre Headers. Ross Reels presented a check to Colorado Trout Unlimited at this year’s Troutfest Colorado at Coors Field on July 8th for $31,125 as a direct result of the first reel.
Also at Troutfest Colorado, Ross and CTU launched the second reel in the series, The Colorado River Cutthroat Edition. This second in the series will benefit our work on the Clear Fork East Muddy Creek Native Fish Restoration Project.
The project came about while I was talking with Jeff Wagner, CEO of Mayfly Outdoors, at our annual Fall Rendezvous last October. He mentioned he wanted to do something to benefit native trout, and the rest is history. I’m in amazement at how fast this project was envisioned, planned, and executed. Those folks over at Mayfly move fast!”
Flylords: What is the focus of the Muddy Creek Restoration Project?
Kyle: “On the eastern flank of the Grand Mesa, NE of Paonia the Clear Fork East Muddy Creek Native Fish Restoration Project will prevent the upstream migration of non-native fish species, such as Brook Trout, Brown Trout, and Rainbow Trout, and provide a refuge for native green lineage Colorado River Cutthroat Trout (CRCT) to flourish in this remote high-altitude watershed. CPW has prioritized the reintroduction of this endemic green lineage CRCT in this reach and is committed to ongoing monitoring of fish barrier performance and fish populations. Once established, this metapopulation will serve as brood stock and will be relocated to other watersheds.
Ross Reels’ funding for this project will go directly toward the construction of a concrete fish barrier that will provide both a vertical barrier and a velocity barrier for preventing upstream passage of invasive fish.
Because this project is on US Forest Service land and adjacent to critical infrastructure (a road and gas pipeline) there are also bank stabilization elements immediately upstream of the proposed barrier location. The bank here is currently protected by rock-filled gabion baskets, which are in poor condition. The proposed project includes 140 linear feet of articulated concrete matting and 45 linear feet of riprap. The proposed bank stabilization BMP’s will protect NFSR 844 – Clear Fork Road and an existing natural gas line buried along the road.”
Flylords: What are some of the challenges that these trout face that this project is looking to aid in fighting?
Kyle: “The main challenges that these trout face are competition for resources with non-native trout and hybridization with rainbow trout. Other issues include climate change and extreme weather events. The existing natural fish barriers protecting CRCT are vulnerable to being washed out in a flood event. Increased fire threats resulting in ash and debris flows, could also hamper efforts. In addition, aridification and dewatering are challenges.”
Flylords: How can people become more involved with projects like this outside of buying a pretty fly reel?
Kyle: “One of the best ways to help with these projects outside of funding, is to volunteer. There are so many fun opportunities we offer, and there’s nothing like feeling the accomplishment of introducing native fish to Colorado. Years ago, I volunteered to reintroduce the first greenback cutthroat to Herman Gulch. Now, those fish are reproducing. You can volunteer for the Poudre Headwaters Project at https://rmftu.org/php and other projects at https://coloradotu.org/volunteer.
Flylords: what has been your favorite “Win” to see from the native series project thus far?
Kyle: “While the project is still young and funds haven’t quite been utilized, I would say the biggest win so far is simply knowing the industry recognizes the effort it takes to restore and protect native trout. We value Mayfly Outdoors’ commitment to these projects, as well as everyone who purchases one of these limited edition reels.”