Liquid Gold

Sierra Nevada's Volcano Creek is home of the very first Golden Trout...'Protogolden'. Today less than two dozen protogoldens remain.
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Keith Brauneis
Email Verified
Film
San Francisco, California
United States
1 Team Member
This campaign is raising funds on behalf of California Trout, a verified nonprofit. The campaign does not necessarily reflect the views of the nonprofit or have any formal association with it. All contributions are considered unrestricted gifts and can't be specified for any particular purpose.

GOAL:

Keith Brauneis Productions and Caltrout will create a short film about Golden Trout that will raise awareness of this magnificent fish, its habitat and its plight. We will submit to F3T and Wild & Scenic film tours (having aired with them last year) among other tours. We will examine current conditions and determine future threats to this species. 

MAIN CHARACTER:

"While trout in general are known for their kaleidoscope of color, California's state fish, the Golden Trout, is the most spectacularly tinted of all. Goldens drip color and shape matched only by exotic butterflies, birds and flowers. They are found in a most unlikely place; precariously perched in isolated streams and lakes of the Sierra Nevada, among the world’s most spectacular mountain ranges. Sadly, this remarkable species is threatened." - Craig Ballenger, California Trout

Healthy Golden Trout habitatHealthy Golden Trout habitat

BACK STORY:

Craig Ballenger first told me about "Protogoldens", as he dubbed them, the original Golden Trout in the fall of 2012. He spoke excitedly of a creek deep inside the Sierra Nevada range called Volcano Creek, home of protogolden. His passion for this trout and it's home town were infectious. Soon I found myself tossing and turning in sleepless nights yearning to see them for myself. I imagined a valley deep and wide crowned with granite peaks and donned in lush grass with a cold spring creek meandering through the middle teaming with the 'kaleidoscopic' descendants of the very first Golden Trout, California's state fish.

Eastern Sierra Mountain RangeEastern Sierra Mountain Range

I met Craig and Hippy Ted at a saloon in Lone Pine on the Eastern side. Over a last cold beer, we perused the maps one more time before finding the trailhead and beginning the 2 day hike through California's finest, tallest and most rugged terrain to Volcano Creek.

The stunning images that haunted my dreams were quickly squelched when we summited the ridge that revealed Volcano Meadow - an arid, dying meadow with a creek that was near dry, near death.

With pounding hearts and shortened breath we scoured the remaining trickle of Volcano Creek desperate to find protogolden. It appeared all was lost. But then finally we found a bathtub sized pool, and tucked in fear against it's far bank were the sum total of 23 protogoldens clinging to life.

Until that moment, extinction was just a concept to me, just a word I had read in books. Standing there in this bleak valley looking down on the last remaining strain of the original Golden Trout lodged my heart in my throat. My eyes welled and my throat tightened as I was overcome with sadness by the severity that lay in front of me.

One of the few remaining descendents of 'Protogolden'One of the few remaining descendents of 'Protogolden'

A now defunct cattle grazing operation had all but decimated this once thriving valley. And protogolden was the price we paid.

Using a barbless hook and proper catch and release techniques, we were able to catch one of the last remaining protogoldens and photograph it for history.

THE MISSION:

We have assembled a team of six: 2 backcountry experts, Craig Ballenger and Ted Harbour; 2 master fly fishermen, Mikey Wier and George Revel; and 2 nationally-aired filmmakers, Keith Brauneis and Ben Paull.

Together we will embark on a 2 week journey from sea level to 14,000 feet and all points in between, scouring the creeks and alpine lakes of the Eastern Sierra mountain range seeking out the various descendants and hybrids of protogolden.

A lush creek in the Golden Trout WildernessA lush creek in the Golden Trout Wilderness

A 3 day hike, pack and climb lands us at 13,000 feet where we will set base camp. From there we will strike out on day trips ascending many of the surrounding peaks to reach their alpine lakes. One such peak is Mt. Whitney, North America's highest.

Eastern Sierra peaksEastern Sierra peaks

GOAL:

Keith Brauneis Productions and Caltrout will create a short film about Golden Trout that will raise awareness of this magnificent fish, its habitat and its plight. We will submit to F3T and Wild & Scenic film tours (having aired with them last year) among other tours. We will examine current conditions and determine future threats to this species. The story of the California Golden Trout will be the over arching theme and will unfold within a real life adventure story about six men's quest to find liquid gold in the great American west.

YOUR SUPPORT:

Your Tax Deductible Donation is the key to this project's launch and it's inevitable success. The dollars raised in this campaign will all go toward the many aspects required for pre production, filming and post production.

RECENT FILM SUCCESS:

Please watch Enough Is Enough, the story of the McCloud River. This film was widely received and nationally-aired, was in 2 film tours, and currently resides on more than 10 major websites. Visit Keith Brauneis Productions for more related films. And Caltrout to learn more about their conservation efforts.

Risks and challenges 

Every production has inherent risks, thankfully we have done this many times before and understand the risks involved and how to avoid them, or how to use them to our advantage when we can't.

The greatest challenge of this project will be getting the actual footage. The Sierra Nevada can be an inhospitable and unforgiving landscape, that's why we established a team of seasoned adventurers, a well oiled crew ready to face any road blocks.

With our combined years of experience and expertise in all aspects of this production, we feel confident that we will deliver you an outstanding film!

Find This Campaign On
$11,387USD
raised by 130 people in 1 month
57% funded
0 time left
Verified Nonprofit
$20,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on August 14, 2013
Select a Perk
  • $10USD
    Big Thanks

    You’ll be listed on the film’s Donor Thank You pages appearing on the CalTrout and Keith Brauneis websites.

    10 claimed
  • $25USD
    Golden Trout Photo Download +

    You’ll receive a digital download of a Keith Brauneis Golden Trout photo for your screen saver or FB page. You’ll also be listed on the film’s Donor Thank You web pages.

    23 claimed
  • $50USD
    Liquid Gold Film Download +

    You’ll receive the film's HD Digital download upon its release along with the Keith Brauneis Golden Trout photo download and listed on the film’s Donor Thank You web pages.

    31 claimed
  • $100USD
    Tickets to F3T Film Tour +

    You’ll receive tickets for you and a guest to one of the five CalTrout sponsored Fly Fishing Film Tour events (Pasadena, San Diego, Sacramento, Orinda or Marin County) in the first quarter of 2014. You’ll also get the film's HD Digital download, Keith Brauneis Golden Trout photo download and listed on the film’s Donor Thank You web pages.

    22 out of 50 claimed
    Estimated delivery: January 2014
  • $250USD
    Rivers Lost Coast DVD +

    Look stylish in a Simms ball cap with Caltrout logo while you watch your Rivers of a Lost Coast DVD, an award-winning documentary about the Russian River angling community in the 1970’s. You’ll also get the film's HD Digital download, Keith Brauneis Golden Trout photo download and listed on the film’s Donor Thank You web pages.

    5 out of 25 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2013
  • $500USD
    CalTrout Capilene Shirt +

    Stay warm on your next outing with a Caltrout emblazoned Patagonia Capilene long-sleeved shirt. You’ll also receive the film's HD Digital download, Keith Brauneis Golden Trout photo download and listed on the film’s Donor Thank You web pages.

    2 out of 25 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2013
  • $1,000USD
    CalTrout Gala Tickets +

    You and a guest are invited to CalTrout’s 15th annual spring Gala and Auction held in San Francisco - "Trout Camp 2014". (Transportation and lodging is not included.) You also receive the film's HD Digital download, Keith Brauneis Golden Trout photo download and listed on the film’s Donor Thank You web pages.

    0 out of 10 claimed
    Estimated delivery: March 2014
  • $2,500USD
    Caltrout's Trout Camp +

    You and a friend will get to spend two days and one night at CalTrout’s Trout Camp on the McCloud river fly fishing with CalTrout ambassador Craig Ballenger who will guide you to some of the most pristine spots of local blue ribbon waters. A $1,500 value! You will also receive the film's HD Digital download, Keith Brauneis Golden Trout photo download and listed on the film’s Donor Thank You web pages.

    0 out of 4 claimed
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