The Rio Grande is disappearing. Demand for water is growing as snow packs shrink, rain patterns shift and average temperatures rise faster than they ever have in the past 11,000 years.Read more
From Creede to South Fork, the Rio Grande is dedicated to trout fishing, specifically fly fishing.
"No trespassing" signs tell fishermen to not anchor or wade on private property and asks them to return native Rio Grande trout to the river immediately. The rocks in the river are arranged to enhance habitat and provide fishing holes in front of vacation homes. Most of the real-estate signs are directed at fishermen.
It has been this way for generations. Mitch Astalos, from Little Elm, Texas, has been coming to South Fork for the past 30 years to stay with family friends and fish. Last year was the only year he ever missed. He would have come but the West Fork Complex Fire made the air unhealthy to breathe and threatened to burn down the town.
Astalos is not passive with his fishing. He fishes for food. In the last seven weeks, he said his catch count is about 220 trout. Many of those fish are now in a freezer where they will stay until being delivered to friends in Texas. But most fish were eaten the day they were caught.
“The best eating is right here,” Astalos said as he walked along the river just upstream from South Fork, where we met him.
We had stopped because we saw Hitomi Astalos, Mitch's wife, perched on a rock making sketches of the river and the backdrop of mountains.
She was the only adult we saw on the river who was not involved with fishing.
After talking about fishing, Astalos offered to drive Erich back up to the Rio Oxbow Ranch, where we had started our paddle and Erich had left El Burrito, aka his Honda Civic.
To comment on this post or ask a question, please visit the expedition's Facebook page.
As they travel, Colin and Erich are taking water samples for the following periodic water quality tests. In partnership with The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment’s Texas Stream Team Program at Texas State University, the results will be added to a public database it helps maintain for research and monitoring water quality.
While making his way to the Gulf of Mexico, Colin will be periodically activating a device that uses satellite technology to share his current location. Use this map to see where he traveled on this day.
|Check-In||Time of Check-In (CST)||Latitude||Longitude|
To report on and understand the haphazard irrigation system the Rio Grande has become and the changes it is going through, Colin decided the best approach would be to travel the length of the Rio Grande by foot and small boat.
He knew it would give him a unique perspective on a river that few understand. It did require many long days of moving slowly and camping on muddy riverbanks, but Colin likes that sort of thing.
The benefit was it provided access to people who wanted to share their stories and experiences with the Rio Grande. Via Facebook and chance encounters, Colin made instant friends who opened their homes. They provided help from loaning their trucks to their cell phone contact lists to help tell the story of the Rio Grande.
The trip would not have been possible without their help, along with the dedicated assistance of David Lozano, Jason Jones and Daniel Dibona, who drove thousands of miles to get people and boats in place.