Eddied Out

Welcome to Eddied Out, a special series designed to connect you to rivers and inspire you to visit them, support them or just dream about them from the comfort of home. If you’d like to get Eddied Out in your inbox, sign up here.

The 5 Weirdest Fish in the River

When people talk about the importance of rivers, fish are usually at the forefront of the conversation. And when it comes to fish, it’s the charismatic species like salmon, steelhead and trout that seem to capture people’s attention the most. However, swimming beneath the surface is a whole host of stranger looking fish that are just as important to the rivers they inhabit.

These unique animals, which have almost all experienced dramatic population declines, need healthy habitat to survive, which is where you and WRC come into play. Protecting habitat is critical, because not only are rivers the life sources for fish, but fish—which cycle nutrients and maintain vital food webs—are life sources for rivers.

For our latest installment of Eddied Out, we’ve profiled five of the strangest native fish you can find in western rivers, the ones with humpbacks and gaping mouths, spiny fins and fang-like teeth. These strange creatures help make the West what it is—wild, diverse and full of surprises waiting to be discovered.

See the full list here.

9 River Hot Springs Across the West to Heal What Ails You

The existence of hot springs is nothing short of miraculous—hot water inching its way thousands of feet upward through dark, ancient fissures from Earth’s depths to form steaming, mineral-rich pools.

In the West, hot springs and rivers go hand in hand. For millennia, people have taken to these natural mineral baths to relax and connect with nature, plunging into nearby streams to enhance their soaks.

So, for our latest installment of Eddied Out we’ve compiled a list of nine riverside hot springs across the West that you can get out and enjoy, places that are still wild because people have cared enough to protect them.

These springs are natural wonders, places of respite and scenic delights (not to mention perfect pit stops during river hikes). For this list, we focused on hot springs in natural settings—undeveloped places where instead of large parking lots and admissions fees you’ll find tranquil natural treasures along great western rivers.

Whichever pool you visit, a soak in steaming waters taking in the sights and sounds of the river will make you all the more inspired to save the great rivers of the West.

See the list here.

Our Favorite Bite-Size River Videos

In life and in art, rivers are wellsprings of inspiration. They invite us to be adventurous, to be curious, to connect with nature, and to better understand history and heritage. And there are infinite ways to capture the joy we feel when we are alongside one, why they matter and just how beautiful they can be.

For this installment of Eddied Out, we turned to video, specifically online shorts. Ubiquitous as they are, some of them just nail it. So, we’ve collected 10 that resonated with us to share with you.

We hope these videos transport you, for brief moments, to the world of rivers and remind you just how important they are—to the fish, wildlife, people and communities that depend on them.

Check out our full list of river videos here.

Kid-Friendly Online River Activities

Children are tomorrow’s conservationists. For those of you with young ones in your life, a trip to the river is a wonderful opportunity to foster a love of nature that can last a lifetime. At Western Rivers Conservancy, we work with these future generations in mind. Everything we do is to ensure we leave a legacy of healthy, functioning rivers.

So, to help the West’s future river lovers get excited about wild streams, we’ve compiled a list of kid-friendly online activities, tools and videos.

On this list, you’ll find accessible resources that are designed to stoke curiosity and provide some educational fun. Think how-to videos on things like making mini waterfalls and tying flies, a short video on fly-casting icon Maxine McCormick (the “Teen Queen of Fly Casting”), and river-related games, like one from LEGO that shows you how to build your own river!

We hope this is an enjoyable supplement to family time spent on the river, and that it helps inspire your up-and-coming conservationists. Enjoy!

Read the full list of kid-friendly activities here.

The 14 Best Books About Rivers

Rivers are the centerpieces of some of the greatest stories ever told, and some of the most epic adventures ever chronicled. To make a list of great river books, we polled our staff, friends and family about their favorites—there are so many!—and culled it down to these must-reads.

These books inspire, educate and excite us. Inside their covers, you’ll ride the rapids with explorers down the Grand Canyon, tie flies with a trout bum, and swim upriver from the viewpoint of a Chinook salmon.

We hope these titles transport you and give you a greater sense of wonder and connection next time you’re out on the river.

Read the full list of river books here.

River Playlist

From bluegrass to soul, oldies to recent hits, we created a mix of some of the best songs inspired by the river. May it remind you of the tremendous joy our rivers bring into our lives, and their importance to all life here in the West. If you have any suggestions for songs you'd like to see added to the list, email us your suggestions. We hope you enjoy what you hear!

Listen on Spotify here.

12 Great River Movies

As we combed through the suggestions we received for this list, it became clear that rivers have played central roles in every genre of movie out there: comedy, drama, romance, crime, thriller, documentary and, of course, adventure! If there’s one thing this illustrates, it’s the importance of rivers to our lives and to our stories. They’re woven into everything. And that’s why Western Rivers Conservancy continues to protect them.

We hope you enjoy this list. We surely left a few favorites off, but these are the ones that rose to the top.

Read the full list of river movies here.

Capturing River Moments Like a Pro

Western Rivers Conservancy hosted renowned fly fishing photographer Val Atkinson for a live Zoom how-to on photographing rivers and river scenes with your iPhone! Val shared his favorite tips and tricks in a one-hour instructional session that covered the fundamentals of great photography—stuff that will help anyone improve their photo game on the river. Topics covered:

  • Why light is everything
  • How to compose a great shot
  • The importance of moment
  • iPhone technical tips
  • What makes Val’s and some of WRC’s best river photographs work

Rivers are where we make some of our fondest memories, but it can feel impossible to capture those special moments on a camera phone. Val will help you do better! And hopefully those photos will help you share your love of rivers—and why we should conserve them—with others.

About Val Atkinson

Val Atkinson is an internationally acclaimed fly fishing photographer whose work has taken him to over 30 countries. He has published four photography books, and his photography has appeared in more than 100 publications worldwide. This is a rare chance to learn from a true pro, who knows rivers intimately and knows how to capture them unlike anyone else.

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