Explore Yampa headwaters while raising money for Friends of the Yampa | CraigDailyPress.com

Explore Yampa headwaters while raising money for Friends of the Yampa

Shelby Reardon / Steamboat Pilot & Today
A man fly-fishes where Fish Creek meets the Yampa River. Friends of the Yampa is putting on a Yampa Headwaters Fishing Fundraiser and Poker Run through the month of August that encourages anglers to fish in the headwaters of the Yampa River while competing for prizes from Patagonia and local businesses.
Shelby Reardon / Steamboat Pilot & Today

When reconfiguring its planned summer fundraiser, the Friends of the Yampa wanted to create something that would encourage people to explore and engage with parts of the Yampa Valley they had rarely or never seen.

So, the Yampa Headwaters Fishing Fundraiser and Poker Run fundraiser was born.

The monthlong event will encourage anglers of all styles and ages to fish at various spots around the Yampa’s headwaters, or the water systems near its source, while competing to earn prizes from Patagonia, Steamboat Flyfisher and more. 

“We can engage with the fishing community, we can encourage a new idea related to fishing as far as it’s not about big fish or the best fish, it’s about the experience and understanding where your waters come from,” said Lindsey Marlow, program manager for Friends of the Yampa. “It’s meant to be more of a holistic experience with this watershed.”

Friends of the Yampa will raise money through registration fees. It’s up to the participant to decide how much they want to pay. Between Aug. 1 and 28, anglers can visit a list of locations, record their coordinates or take a photo of a fish they caught in the spot and use it to verify they visited. Each location visited earns the angler a poker card. At the end of the month, the best hand of five poker cards will earn a prize. The more places visited, the more cards earned, and the higher the odds of presenting a good hand. 

“It doesn’t mean the person that catches the most fish gets an award or the person who catches the biggest fish,” said Marlow. “What it does is challenges people to get out to at least five different watersheds and get a poker card. … Your odds go up if you engage more.”

Registrants can earn additional cards by becoming a member of Friends of the Yampa, submitting photos of picking up trash or by participating in citizen science. The details aren’t hashed out yet, but Friends of the Yampa plans to ask participants to record some simple data at their fishing location to learn a little more about the Yampa and its headwaters. 

Young or beginner anglers shouldn’t shy away, though. So long as the photo captures the action of fishing, a caught fish isn’t a requirement. 

Locations will be determined closer to Aug. 1 and will depend on flow, temperature and conditions. Some possible locations include Bear River, Sarvis Creek, Fish Creek, Elkhead Creek, Soda Creek and even Alpine lakes in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area. 

“I think people easily identify rivers but not the headwaters to those rivers,” said Marlow. “I think them getting a greater understanding while they fish is ideal and what we’re trying to get people to do.”

This fundraiser is important as it may be the only one of 2020 for Friends of the Yampa if the group is forced to cancel its November fundraiser, the Big Snow Bash. Money raised from the fishing challenge will contribute to watershed projects, fly-fishing class for youth and scholarships for that class.

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