Despised mountain whitefish has numerous positive attributes


STATE BRIDGE — Don’t call me Ishmael. Ahab would be more accurate, albeit lacking the requisite spite, vengeance and, to be honest, white whale.

Instead, it was the great white fish that served the object of our obsession on this day. The hardly rare Prosopium williamsoni, or mountain whitefish, perhaps the most widely distributed salmonid in the West. And arguably among the most despised.

Yet the loathing is as unwarranted as it is confounding. Unlike the regal rainbow and fierce brown trout these high-mountain bottom-dwellers share habitat with, whitefish are actually native to Colorado rivers. Mostly they suffer from an image problem.

Many fishermen regard them as trash fish, even though they eat the same food as trout, are anatomically endowed with the telltale adipose fin common to all members of the trout and salmon family and have been swimming side by side with indigenous cutthroats since the last ice age. At best they are considered a consolation prize for trout fishermen, perceived as a nuisance that gets in the way of an otherwise certain trophy for the mantel.

But more often these second-class denizens will actually salvage a slow fishing day. They are spirited fighters that feed actively at all times, even when trout don’t. Their size and prevalence in some of the West’s most notable trout streams — including the Colorado, Roaring Fork, Yampa and White rivers — should make pursuit worthy, especially in the slow, cold months of winter, when mountain whitefish tend to be much more active than trout. As a bonus, a whitefish just 15 inches long qualifies for Colorado’s Master Angler award, upping the ante for anglers seeking accolades.

See also  .300 Winchester Magnum for Elk Hunting? Best Ammo (Round, Load, Cartridge) for a Successful Elk Hunt Hunting Calibers 04 Apr, 2020 Posted By: Foundry Outdoors Is the .300 Winchester Magnum a viable caliber/load/round/cartridge for elk hunting? The accurate answer is “it depends”. However, the goal of this article is simply to address the question of whether the .300 Winchester Magnum is within the ideal range of suitable calibers to harvest elk. As with anything, the devil is in the details. To answer the question completely, we would need to evaluate the downrange distance to the elk, the bullet type, the grain weight of the bullet, the physical condition of the firearm, the size of the elk in question, the shot placement, the local wind conditions, the expected accuracy of the shooter, the ethics of the ideal maximum number of shots – the list goes on. [Click Here to Shop .300 Winchester Magnum Ammo]What we can do is provide a framework to understand what average conditions might look like, and whether those are reasonably viable for a shot from the average shooter to harvest a elk in the fewest number of shots possible, i.e., ethically. Let’s dive right in. In the question of “Is the .300 Winchester Magnum within the ideal range of suitable calibers for elk hunting?” our answer is: Yes, the .300 Winchester Magnum is A GOOD CHOICE for elk hunting, under average conditions, from a mid-range distance, with a medium grain expanding bullet, and with correct shot placement.Let’s look at those assumptions a bit closer in the following table. Assumption Value Caliber .300 Winchester Magnum Animal Species Elk Muzzle Energy 3520 foot-pounds Animal Weight 720 lbs Shot Distance 200 yardsWhat is the average muzzle energy for a .300 Winchester Magnum? In this case, we have assumed the average muzzle energy for a .300 Winchester Magnum round is approximately 3520 foot-pounds. What is the average weight of an adult male elk? Here we have leaned conservative by taking the average weight of a male individual of the species, since females generally weigh less and require less stopping power. In this case, the average weight of an adult male elk is approximately 720 lbs. [Click Here to Shop .300 Winchester Magnum Ammo]What is the distance this species is typically hunted from? Distance, of course, plays an important role in the viability of a given caliber in elk hunting. The kinetic energy of the projectile drops dramatically the further downrange it travels primarily due to energy lost in the form of heat generated by friction against the air itself. This phenonemon is known as drag or air resistance. Thus, a caliber that is effective from 50 yards may not have enough stopping power from 200 yards. With that said, we have assumed the average hunting distance for elk to be approximately 200 yards. What about the other assumptions? We have three other primary assumptions being made here. First, the average bullet weight is encapsulated in the average muzzle energy for the .300 Winchester Magnum. The second important assumption is ‘slightly-suboptimal’ to ‘optimal’ shot placement. That is to say, we assume the elk being harvested is shot directly or nearly directly in the vitals (heart and/or lungs). The third assumption is that a projectile with appropriate terminal ballistics is being used, which for hunting usually means an expanding bullet.Various calibersA common thread you may encounter in online forums is anecdote after anecdote of large animals being brought down by small caliber bullets, or small animals surviving large caliber bullets. Of course those stories exist, and they are not disputed here. A 22LR cartridge can fell a bull elephant under the right conditions, and a newborn squirrel can survive a 50 BMG round under other specific conditions. Again, the goal of this article is simply to address the question of whether .300 Winchester Magnum is within the ideal range of suitable calibers to harvest elk - and to this question, the response again is yes, the .300 Winchester Magnum is A GOOD CHOICE for elk hunting. [Click Here to Shop .300 Winchester Magnum Ammo]This article does not serve as the final say, but simply as a starting point for beginner hunters, as well as a venue for further discussion. Please feel free to agree, disagree, and share stories from your own experience in the comments section below. Disclaimer: the information above is purely for illustrative purposes and should not be taken as permission to use a particular caliber, a statement of the legality or safety of using certain calibers, or legal advice in any way. You must read and understand your own local laws before hunting elk to know whether your caliber of choice is a legal option.Foundry Outdoors is your trusted home for buying archery, camping, fishing, hunting, shooting sports, and outdoor gear online.We offer cheap ammo and bulk ammo deals on the most popular ammo calibers. We have a variety of deals on Rifle Ammo, Handgun Ammo, Shotgun Ammo & Rimfire Ammo, as well as ammo for target practice, plinking, hunting, or shooting competitions. Our website lists special deals on 9mm Ammo, 10mm Ammo, 45-70 Ammo, 6.5 Creedmoor ammo, 300 Blackout Ammo, 10mm Ammo, 5.56 Ammo, Underwood Ammo, Buffalo Bore Ammo and more special deals on bulk ammo.We offer a 100% Authenticity Guarantee on all products sold on our website. Please email us if you have questions about any of our product listings. Leave a commentComments have to be approved before showing up Your Name * Your Email * Your Comment * Post Comment

“I like to think of the whitefish as the Colorado River bone fish,” said Dave Bryant, who chases Colorado River whiteys until his Lake Ice USA guiding season kicks in for the winter (720-298-9260). “Pound for pound, they fight better than a rainbow. And they are physically a tough fish that can survive in all kinds of water temperatures and oxygen levels, kind of like smallmouth bass.”

That same tenacity that allows whitefish to thrive in a wide range of waters may account for at least a portion of their public relations problem. Some of the scorn emanates from a presumption that they compete with trout, although there’s no evidence that whitefish numbers diminish trout populations. In reality, their presence typically serves as an indicator of a river’s overall health since they tend to feed off the bottom and are used as a food source themselves by other fish and animals.

“They really are an equal-opportunity fish,” Bryant said. “They get treated like the redheaded stepchild, but they are a nice recreational fish because you can go anywhere on the Colorado where there are some nice deep runs and really get into those things. They’re a little bit easier fish to catch.”

They say the tug is the drug that keeps recreational fishermen coming back for more. How else do you explain fly-fishing for carp, the entire concept of catch-and-release or how I talked a lifelong spin fisherman into picking up a fly rod, skipping out on the shopping mall and joining me over the Thanksgiving weekend in dedicated pursuit of whitefish? Consider it a quick fix.

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“Can you even catch those things?” Ken Hoeve asked before agreeing to our “Black Fly-day” mission. “I see them all the time but I’ve never caught one on a spinner.”

“You need to use nymphs,” I explained. “They’re pretty much bottom feeders.”

With their small, down-turned mouths, whitefish can be a challenge to hook on dry flies, although they will occasionally rise to a summer hatch. More often they tend to suck in smallish, shiny flies like a beadhead prince, pheasant tail or copper John heavily weighted to bounce off the riverbed.

Fall spawners, whitefish huddle together in deep pools below gravel bars and riffles where eggs are scattered rather than deposited in nests like many salmonids. It makes the fish somewhat easier to spot once a suitable pool is located, and the fishing action nearly constant once the proper depth is dialed in.

You may not land Moby Dick, but you’re still bound to have a better day than ol’ Ahab.

Scott Willoughby: 303-954-1993,

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>