Lonesome Larry’s radio ads hit the airwaves!

When he's not riding toy horses, The Most Interesting Fish in the World produces radio ads to share his story with the masses.Statewide exposure is what Idaho’s most interesting sockeye salmon deserves, and that’s what he’s getting this summer in radio ads airing in every corner of the state. The ads, which you can listen to below, hit the airwaves July 16 and will run through the end of August.

Click the tracks below to give the ads a listen, and leave a comment describing which is your favorite.

 

 

 

Larry finds teamwork at Redfish Lake

Larry talks with guests about the plight of wild salmon during a boat tour of Redfish Lake.

The work to advance awareness of the plight of Idaho’s wild salmon is far more than a one-fish job. Fortunately there is an abundance of people and organizations dedicated to saving wild salmon far into the future.

Lonesome Larry teamed up with the Sawtooth Interpretive and Historical Association last weekend to help spread the word. A non-profit organization based in Stanley, the Historical Association’s mission is to protect and advance the natural and cultural history of Idaho’s Sawtooth and Salmon River country through preservation and education.

Larry shares his story at SIHA's Junior Ranger program.

The Historical Association offers a wide array of fun and educational opportunities in Stanley, including the Stanley museum, a historic walking tour of Stanley, and the Redfish Center, which offers daily educational programs during the summer, including nature hikes and Junior Ranger programs that teach young people about the history, biology and geology of the region. In conjunction with Redfish Lake Lodge, the Redfish Center offers scheduled boat tours of Redfish Lake. During tours, interpretive specialists discuss Sawtooth history, geology, and ecology. Lonesome Larry joined a group of Junior Rangers and made a special appearance on Saturday’s boat tour to tell his story.

Like so many other challenges faced by today’s world, spreading the word about Idaho’s sockeye is something best accomplished by a lot of people working together. Thanks to SIHA and other organizations that are helping to tell the story of the most interesting fish in the world, Lonesome Larry feels a little less lonesome at the end of the day.

The ladies at SIHA just couldn't resist the most interesting (and handsome) fish in the world!

 

Fish-friendly power: Lonesome Larry explores clean energy alternatives

Lonesome Larry visits a wind farm near Pocatello, Idaho.

Good news, Idahoans! You’ve won the clean-energy lottery. As the world attempts to move to more environmentally friendly energy sources, there are few places with more potential than Idaho to develop abundant power with low carbon emissions and an otherwise small environmental impact.

Many traditional methods of producing power, such as coal-fired power plants, produce carbon emissions that contribute to climate change. Higher global temperatures will affect salmon in several ways: reduced snowpack (and therefore reduced stream flows), more severe storms and floods, warmer water, and ocean acidification are just a few of the problems that may result from a warmer climate.

In the northwest, a large percentage of power is generated by hydroelectric dams, which produce no carbon emissions but are lethal to migrating fish. The four dams on the lower Snake River produce relatively little power for the region–less than four percent during peak production.This is energy for which alternatives and conservation measures can easily pick up the slack.

As the 13th windiest state in the nation, Idaho has enormous potential for wind power. Wind is is plentiful, renewable, widely distributed, clean, and uses little land. Windmills are fairly quiet and can be placed in fields that are also used for crops or grazing. Like many man-made structures, wind mills can pose a problem for bats and birds, but their environmental impact is still low compared with other types of power generation.

Wild salmon and wind energy work together well in the Northwest, as sustainable resources and job creators.  But the Obama administration’s present management of the Columbia and Snake Rivers doesn’t reflect this natural partnership, thus needlessly pitting wind energy and salmon recovery against each other.  Conservationists are working to change that.  Federal policy should keep salmon swimming, wind turbines turning, and jobs from both growing.

Although currently used on a smaller scale, solar power is another clean energy resource readily available in Idaho. For the time-being, solar panels are expensive to build and take up more space than windmills, but solar energy produces no carbon emissions and is more predictable than wind energy. Idaho also boasts abundant geothermal power, which uses hot water naturally present underground to generate power from steam. This method of power generation has a low environmental impact, but not every place in the world has geothermal potential. Luckily, Idaho sits on a geothermal hotspot and contains more hot springs than any other state in the continental U.S.

There may be no perfect energy source–every type of power generation has its pros and cons–but it is important to understand that the Northwest has a lot of choices, and Idahoans do not have to give up their salmon to have electricity in the twenty-first century. By understanding and investing in its many options, it is possible for Idaho to find an energy solution that works for both its people and its environment.

Heartbreak and hope: Larry visits his birthplace

Lonesome Larry visits his birthplace and spawning ground, Redfish lake.

The most interesting fish in the world comes from a beautiful and interesting place: Redfish Lake, located in the Sawtooth Valley of central Idaho. Lonesome Larry took a trip home earlier in July.

Redfish Lake, so named for the thousands of red sockeye salmon that once returned during the spawning season, is now a popular recreational area for boaters, campers and hikers. Since the completion of four dams on the Lower Snake river, the lake has seen few sockeye. In 1992, Lonesome Larry was the only sockeye salmon to return. After traveling 900 miles and 6,500 feet in elevation, the absence of a mate was a heartbreaking conclusion to such a stoic and heroic journey.

Like the Salmon River, Redfish Lake’s name no longer seems to fit, but there are still a few who recall how it used to be. A common story that Larry hears when he travels the state: “My father says he remembers when the lake became so full of salmon, it looked like you could walk across it on their backs.”

Thanks to good ocean conditions, federally mandated spill, pumped-up hatchery releases and further restoration measures pushed by Idaho Rivers United and other concerned stakeholders, sockeye have returned in greater numbers in recent years. However, they still have a long way to go before recovery is even part of the common vocabulary. Biologists estimate that 2,000 natural sockeye must return to the Sawtooth Valley for eight consecutive years before removal from the Endangered Species Act is even an option. That’s a long way from the 100 to 200 natural returns of the past couple years.

Larry visits Sunbeam Dam, which was breached in 1934 to allow for fish passage.

But there is hope for Larry and his sockeye friends. After his visit to Redfish lake, Larry dropped by Sunbeam Dam–a fish-killing barrier that was breached in 1934 and demonstrated the effectiveness of dam removal for salmon recovery.

Sunbeam was constructed on the Salmon River a few miles downstream of Stanley in 1910 to provide electricity for a nearby mining operation. Despite its role as a power dam, Sunbeam only generated electricity for one year and then sat for another 23 years as a virtually impenetrable barrier to sockeye and other migrating fish. In 1920, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game constructed a fish ladder over the dam, but the attempt at sockeye recovery yielded few returns.

By the 1930s, public outcry about the blocked fish populations led to action. In 1934, under circumstances that aren’t completely clear to historians, the obsolete dam was breached and sockeye began to repopulate the upper reaches of the Salmon River basin.

The events at Sunbeam signify that Idaho’s sockeye have the potential to recover if given a chance. It’s this little piece of hope that inspires Lonesome Larry to continue his travels–and to continue sharing his story.

Stay thirsty, Idahoans.

Lonesome Larry at Sunbeam Dam

Lonesome Larry examines the blown-up ramparts of Sunbeam Dam on the Salmon River. Once a fish-killing barrier, Sunbeam is now a testament to how endangered fish could bounce back if other dams downstream were to be removed.

Salmon with a side of potatoes, barbecued at Craters of the Moon

From touring the potato capital to braving the heat at Craters of the Moon, the most interesting fish in the world hit the road last weekend to tour some of Idaho’s most interesting landmarks.

Lonesome Larry visits Malad Gorge in Hagerman Valley.

Lonesome Larry began his trip with a visit to Malad Gorge, a narrow, 250-foot-deep canyon formed by the Malad River in the Hagerman Valley. This natural wonder serves as habitat to rock pigeons, red-tailed hawks, golden eagles, and yellow-bellied marmots. A section of the Oregon Trail is visible from the hiking and picknicking area, just off of interstate 84.

Since he’s already visited the fiddling and whitewater capitals of the world, Larry thought it only fitting to pop into the potato museum in the potato capital of the world: Blackfoot, Idaho. Although potatoes were first grown and eaten in South America, the ones grown in Idaho were developed in North America by Luther Burbank in 1872. The burbank-russet potato (commonly called the russet) is perfectly suited to the rich, volcanic soil and warm, dry climate that persists in most of the region, making Idaho the number one potato-producing state in the nation.

Annie Morrison is to Lonesome Larry what Clark Kent is to Superman. She explores Indian Tunnel at Craters of the Moon National Monument.

Lonesome Larry wrapped up his road trip with a visit to the Craters of the Moon National Monument near Arco, Idaho. This strange, lava-swept landscape once rested over what is now known as the Yellowstone hot-spot. It’s cinder-cones, caves and craters served as a training ground for astronauts prior to the first journey to the moon. In the summer, it can get incredibly hot. With temperatures in the mid-nineties on Sunday, Larry fish-flopped his interesting self to a drinking fountain and left cave exploration to his buddies, Annie and Joe.

Larry traveled to these places to share his own story and to share in others. At first glance, the very different areas that Larry visits may seem to have little to do with each other, but they are connected in that each region holds a treasure that makes Idaho unique. From the whitewater of north central Idaho to the hot, dry craters of east Idaho, the Gem State holds a combination of wonders that is truly unforgettable.

A chat with Larry: what Columbia River sockeye returns mean for Idaho

If you’ve stayed up to date salmon news lately, you might have heard that upper Columbia River sockeye salmon are returning to the Okanagan and Wenatchee river basins this summer in numbers not seen in decades. This is great news–so why is Larry still gallivanting all over the place, talking about the plight of wild salmon?

It’s because he’s talking about Idaho’s sockeye, which pass the first four dams on the Columbia River, then turn up the Snake River and pass four more dams before swimming into the remaining miles of free-flowing rivers on their way to the Sawtooth Valley. Idaho’s sockeye this summer are predicted to return at similar rates to recent years. In 2011, 1,118 hatchery and 150 natural sockeye returned to the Sawtooth Valley. In 2010, 1,345 hatchery and 180 natural sockeye returned.

“It’s important to remember that Idaho’s sockeye are a very small percentage of the total number of fish that have been counted at Bonneville Dam,” said Bert Bowler, a retired Idaho Department of Fish and Game fisheries biologist. “The fact is that our sockeye are still in trouble, and these lower Columbia numbers don’t necessarily show that.”

Idaho’s sockeye were listed as endangered in 1991, and they have been on a captive broodstock life support system ever since. Upper Columbia sockeye, on the other hand, are not listed under the Endangered Species Act.

“Fish and Game biologists have worked wonders in preventing extinction of Idaho’s sockeye,” said Idaho Rivers United Assistant Policy Director Greg Stahl. “But the 150 to 180 natural origin fish that returned each of the past couple years aren’t anywhere close to enough to recover the species and remove them from Endangered Species Act listing.

“By all indications, this year’s return should be similar to the past couple of years, and the primary obstacle to recovery remains the same. Removing the four dams on the lower Snake River in eastern Washington state will be required to put Idaho’s sockeye on the path to sustained recovery.”

Continue to keep your eyes peeled for Lonesome Larry, The Most Interesting Fish in the World, at community events across Idaho this summer. And … stay thirsty, Idahoans.

A fishy Fourth: Hailey welcomes Lonesome Larry

Lonesome Larry dances down Main street in Hailey's Fourth of July Parade.

Cheering competitors in Hailey's Fourth of July criterium bike race.

There was something fishy in Hailey, Idaho on the Fourth of July. Swimming down main street through an impromptu entourage of youthful bikers, Lonesome Larry appeared in the town’s annual Fourth of July parade.

Hailey, a town of about 8,000  in the Wood River Valley, bursts with festivities each Fourth of July. From a pancake breakfast to an old-West-style rodeo, Hailey’s is a memorable Independence Day celebration.

Larry (aka IRU summer intern Annie Morrison) said she enjoyed Hailey’s welcoming atmosphere and the opportunity to share Larry’s story on such an important American holiday.

“Odd though it may seem to see a giant fish waving the country’s flag, Independence Day is close to Lonesome Larry’s heart,” Morrison said. “The country’s birthday is a perfect time to remember the things we love about our land and the things that helped our civilization grow. Wild salmon were once an abundant and healthy source of food that provided sustenance and economic opportunity for many American settlers. Also, as a keystone species, salmon are vital to the health of other symbols that Americans cherish, from bald eagles to towering forests. It could be said that salmon are the most patriotic fish of all.”

Lonesome Larry moves to the grooves of his own theme song

Lonesome Larry dancing to his own song.

Lonesome Larry dances to the rhythms and harmonies of his new debut single.

Music is his mantra, salsa his middle name. When he’s not running races, visiting Idaho’s breweries or letting his fans fawn over him at community parades, The Most Interesting Fish in the World writes songs.

Check out his most recent debut.

 

And big thanks to those who helped Larry write and organize his music:

  • Lyrics and arrangement, Steve Benner.
  • Music, traditional.
  • Vocals: Steve Benner, Scot Oliver, Tucker Wardwell.
  • Instruments: Steve Benner, guitar; Scot Oliver, guitar; Scott Hopkins, bass.
  • Produced and recorded by Randy McKellip.

The world’s most interesting fish reels in a crowd

The Most Interesting Fish in the World joins a beach volleyball team at Payette Lake in McCall.

From spiking the volleyball on a scenic beach to dodging fish hooks in the whitewater capital of Idaho, Lonesome Larry is spreading his fishy tale throughout the Gem State on the 20th anniversary of his lonesome return to Redfish Lake.

On Sunday, June 17, Lonesome Larry visited McCall, a resort town located on the edge of Payette Lake. Originally a logging town, McCall is now an all-season tourist destination for those who love biking, boating, skiing, fishing and other outdoor recreation. As the most handsome, athletic fish in the world, Larry couldn’t resist joining a game of beach volleyball with some fun and fabulous people.

On Monday, Larry splashed into Riggins, also known as Idaho’s whitewater capital.

Larry watches anglers cast lines for salmon into the Little Salmon River near Riggins. Fully restored fishing seasons would bring millions to Idaho's rural riverside communities.

Riggins is the starting point for many whitewater enthusiasts who wish to brave the unforgettable rapids of the Salmon River. The small town is also popular among anglers, and there are hundreds of fishermen lined up on the river’s shore this summer, hoping to land a giant chinook. The fishermen barbed in jest that they were going to hook Larry and fry him up for dinner.

Larry also visited the 45th parallel (halfway between the Equator and the North Pole) and then headed to Midvale to nap on a hay bale at Dixie Creek Ranch, one of several small cattle ranches located next to the Weiser River. He was last seen on a four-wheeler, riding into the sunset, but don’t despair–the most interesting fish in the world promised to reappear soon.

Stay thirsty, Idahoans.

 

 

A Small Town with a Big Tradition: The Weiser Fiddle Festival

Larry with Betty and Ozark Mountain Music

Larry buys a LemonadeLast week, Lonesome Larry grabbed the bull by the horns and rode into the Fiddling Capital of the World–otherwise known as Weiser, Idaho–for the 60th annual Weiser Fiddle Festival and the National Old Time Fiddler’s Contest.

Fiddling first came to Weiser in 1863, when emigrants crossing the country in covered wagons would stop at the area’s way station for rest and recreation. The town’s first fiddle contest was held in 1914, but the present-day annual contest was started by former Weiser Chamber of Commerce Secretary Blaine Stubblefield in 1953.

 

Stubblefield, a fiddler and folk music collector who grew up in Oregon’s Wallowa Valley, spent several years researching fiddle music for the Library of Congress. In 1853, he asked Weiser’s chamber of commerce for $175 to finance a fiddle contest during the intermission of the town’s annual Square Dance Festival. The contest, then called the Northwest Mountain Fiddler’s Contest, became the annual event that is still celebrated each year.
Larry rides the bull
Today, the National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest boasts close to 3 50 contestants and eight divisions. More than 1,100 volunteers come together annually to support this spectacular, nationally recognized event, which is accompanied by a week-long festival including vendors, a parade, a carnival, and free daytime shows in the town’s parks.
Lonesome Larry quenched his thirst with lemonade, took a ride on a mechanical bull, and caught a show by Betty and Ozark Mountain Music.

 

Places like Weiser–a small town with a big tradition–are a huge part of what makes Idaho special. Like the iconic salmon that make their way up Idaho’s rivers and streams each year, fiddling has been included in the region’s identity for as long as anyone can remember. Right up there with rodeos and huckleberry pie, it is one of the many symbols that captures our hearts and makes natives–like Larry–proud to be Idahoans.