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.
"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
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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!