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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Fly Fishing App Earns 4.5 Star Rating!

PCWorld.com  awarded the Orvis Company a 4.5 Star Rating on their fly fishing App for Android.  To current users of this app it shouldn't come as a surprise. This app is loaded with fly fishing information from flies, casting help, fishing reports, the popular animated knot section and lots more. The knot tying section alone is worth the $15 price of admission and since Orvis throws in a $10 gift card the price tag is really just 5 bucks.

Visit the Orvis Fly Fishing App web page and learn the details of the Fly Fishing App for Android (also available for iPhone)

Congratulations to Orvis for bringing another innovation to the fly fishing world. Well done! 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Billfish and Tuna Habitat Shrinking

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that an increasing low oxygen zone in the Atlantic Ocean is reducing habitat for billfish and tuna. Tuna and billfish  need oxygen rich water to survive and as their habitat shrinks they are forced into shallower water where they are more vulnerable to being caught.

Low oxygen areas in the ocean are a natural occurrence and are known as hypoxic zones.  What has NOAA concerned are these zones are enlarging and occurring closer to the oceans surface.  One such zone off the coast of Africa is now larger than the continental US and covers almost all the equatorial waters.  Rising ocean temperatures are thought to be the cause of the increase in hypoxic zones.

According to Dr. Eric D. Prince, NOAA’s Fisheries Service research fishery biologist, “With the current cycle of climate change and accelerated global warming, we expect the size of this zone to increase, further reducing the available habitat for these fish.”

Eventually, less habitat means fewer fish, a consideration fishery managers consider when doing population assessments.  Scientists are expecting ocean temperature to continue to rise and low oxygen zones to continue to increase continuing to force billfish and tuna into smaller areas leaving them even more vulnerable to exploitation.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ice Safety

This time of year many anglers switch their fishing efforts over to ice fishing. Just like other water activities ice fisherman need to take some precautions in order to maximize their safety while on the frozen lakes and ponds.  It's important to never take anything for granted and understand ice is never 100% safe.

One of the obvious things to consider is the thickness and condition of the ice.  White ice, often called "snow" ice, needs to be twice as thick as new clear hard ice for the same activity.  Most experts agree that no one should venture onto ice that is less than four inches thick. This number is just a guideline as there are many other factors that can make ice unstable and unsafe that could require even greater thickness for safety.  The same applies to the following ice thickness guidelines.

4 inches: one person ice fishing weighing 200 lbs with gear.
5 inches: one snowmobile or atv.
6 inches: one ice boat.
7 inches: several ice fishermen or ice skaters.
8 inches: one car under the most ideal of conditions
9 inches: several snowmobile or atvs
12 inches: one small pick-up truck
15 inches: one medium pick-up truck

Remember, for white ice the thickness doubles.

When going out on the ice bring along some basic safety equipment.  Items like a cordless drill can help you determine if the ice is thick enough.  Use a 5/8 wood auger drill bit to bore a hole in the ice and then measure the thickness with a standard measuring tape.  If possible, contact a local sport shop and inquire about the safety of the ice.  Though, it's still a good idea to drill your own test hole just to be sure.

Another piece of safety equipment to bring along is a standard boat cushion.  This can help provide flotation should someone go through the ice.  It's a good idea to have a line attached to the boat cushion so it can be used to help pull someone from the frigid water.  A pair of ice claws can be a life saver and are easily made from two pieces of dowel and a pair of 16 penny nails.  Simply use a 4 or 5 inch dowel and hammer the nails partway into the ends.  Using a file or grinder, file the ends of the nails into a point.  You can drill a hole into each end so you can nest the exposed nail points into each handle.  A cord fastened between the two claws complete the ice claws.  Make the cord long, like it were a jump rope.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has an excellent online guide to ice safety that can be found at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/ice/index.html They also have instructions for constructing your own ice claws and more suggestions to staying safe and having fun on the ice.

Catch a Virtual Fish, Maybe Win a Real Boat!



North American Fishing Club Provides New Boat, Motor and Trailer for Online Fishing Tournament

ALEXANDRIA, VA (November 29, 2010) /PRNewswire/ — Back by popular demand, the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation’s (RBFF) Take Me Fishing™ campaign is kicking off Catch A Boat 3.0, an online fishing tournament that includes a sweepstakes to win daily prizes or the grand prize boat, motor and trailer. Beginning November 29, 2010 at noon ET, boaters and anglers are invited to take part in TakeMeFishing.org’s interactive game for a chance to reel in the grand prize Stratos fishing boat, provided by the North American Fishing Club (NAFC). NAFC is also offering players a 30-day free trial membership, which includes a free issue of North American Fisherman.

Take Me Fishing also teamed up with N’Gage, Rapala, West Marine, Plano, Gander Mountain and Ready2Fish for Catch A Boat 3.0. Each week one sponsor will dole out daily prizes (rods, reels, tackle, gift certificates and more) to those taking part in the game.

“With fishing season winding down in several parts of the country, we’re happy to help anglers stay involved with our exciting online game,” said RBFF President and CEO Frank Peterson. “The next best thing to actually heading out on the water, Catch A Boat is ideal for anyone interested in the sport. It provides users the knowledge to be successful and gives them the opportunity to reel in great prizes from a wide range of industry partners.”

Catch A Boat not only lets users catch different types of virtual fish in five regions, but also teaches them important facts about boating, fishing and conservation. In each region, users have the opportunity to answer trivia questions to upgrade their boat and gear. All answers can be found on RBFF’s website — www.TakeMeFishing.org.

Catch A Boat will run for six weeks concluding on January 10, 2011. To register for Catch A Boat or for complete rules and information on the sweepstakes, visit www.TakeMeFishing.org.

TakeMeFishing.org is the ultimate boating and fishing resource for outdoor enthusiasts. Visitors to the site can find everything they need to plan a day on the water while searching for thousands of places to boat and fish in the U.S. Boaters and anglers can also join Fishingtonthe Fishing and Boating Capital of the Internet and follow TakeMeFishing.org on Facebook and @Take_Me_Fishing on Twitter

About RBFF

RBFF is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to increase participation in recreational angling and boating, thereby protecting and restoring the nation’s aquatic natural resources. RBFF helps people discover, share and protect the legacy of boating and fishing through national outreach programs including the Take Me Fishing™ campaign and Anglers’ Legacy™.

2010 American Shad Run in Pennsylvania's Lehigh River

Between April 7 and June 28, 2010 The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) counted no less than 1,935 American shad as they passed through the Easton, PA spillway on the Lehigh River.  Good news for shad and shad fishermen. This is a good jump in numbers from that observed in recent years.

What still has the biologists scratching their heads is the low passage of fish through the Chain Dam fishway.  One thought is since some shad use the pool below the dam as a spawning area not too many fish feel the urge to venture further.  This is a little offset by the fact that a few hundred fish were observed in the fishway, but never exited at the end.  For the shad, that seems like a lot of work for nothing.

Overall, it's good news.  More American Shad in the Lehigh River thanks to the hard work by the folks at the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

You can read the complete report with all the charts and graphs and some interesting information on the age of returning fish including how many came to the dance for the second time at http://www.fish.state.pa.us/images/reports/2010bio/lehigh_shad2010spawn.htm 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

IGFA Record Book Going to New Lengths

The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) has long been the official keeper of the world record book for both freshwater and saltwater fish. Historically, these records are based on fish weight with a separate set of rules for conventional tackle and fly fishing tackle.

Beginning on January 1, 2011, the IGFA will no longer require a fish to be weighed to be recognized for a record. They've introduced a new category called the All Tackle Length Record. To qualify for this new category the fish must be measured on an official measuring device. At this time the only place I know where you can get the IGFA Measuring Device is directly through the IGFA Store, though the IGFA say's they will also be available through major tackle dealers.

Initially there will be just one category under this system, The All Tackle Length Record and is open to fly fishing and conventional tackle alike. Fish entered in this category are not eligible to be entered in any other category. The rules pretty much will be same as weight records except no gaffs of any kind will not be permitted. The idea is that the fish are measured and released alive and unharmed.

Initially, 60 freshwater and 67 saltwater fish of the IGFA recognized record fish species will be open for this new category. It's important to note that under the current weight rules it's not required that a fish be killed in order to qualify and the IGFA points out that many of these fish are released after being weighed.

With this new category wide open for entrants anyone who's been Jonesing for their name on a World Record Certificate now has a greater window of opportunity. Check with the IGFA regarding the minimum lengths assigned to each fish species. And don't forget to get your IGFA Measuring Device. That's about the long and short of it.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Pennsylvania Receives Award for Panfish Restoration

The American Fisheries Society (AFS) chose the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC) for an outstanding project award for its work and research on the commission's ten year study of panfish populations. This research has shown that panfish size and populations can be increased by restricting harvest while still proving an excellent fishing experience for the angler.

Originally conceived in 1995 by PFBC biologists in 1994, the study formally began in 1999 when the commission placed size and bag limits on select lakes in the commonwealth. Minimum size limits were placed on yellow perch, crappie and sunfish along with restricted, yet still liberal, harvest limits. After ten years the biologists surveyed the lakes and found the regulations had an across the board positive effect on the number and size of panfish in these waters.

According to Dave Miko, chief of the PFBC Division of Fisheries Management and the project leader for the research study, "Because they are widely available and generally taste good, panfish are one of the most popular fish targeted by anglers."

This study shows, that contrary to popular belief, it is possible to over harvest panfish. In general, anglers have been satisfied with the results of this new management due to the increased size of the fish now caught.

Congratulations to the PFBC for a job well done.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Is This Koi Just Being Coy...

 ...or is it just another Photoshopped internet legend?

This showed up around the web back in September and just recently resurfaced in my inbox. When it was first reported by the U.K.'s Daily Mail  it was touted as one of the biggest of its kind.  The estimated 30 lb goldfish (koi) was caught and released by Raphael Biagini in a lake in southern France.  Now the buzz that I'm reading is that the fish is a fake, well at least the catch.  No one has offered any real proof that it's not real but the speculation continues...

Check out the photo and draw your own conclusions.  Me? Well, I find it hard to believe an angler would overestimate the size of his catch or hold a fish for a picture in such a way to make it look larger than it is.
Raphael Biagini's carp even has his own Facebook page!  Now that doesn't seem like he's being coy to me.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"Extinct" Salmon Species Back From the Dead

In the 1940's the black kokanee salmon was declared extinct.  Now, more than 70 years later this species of salmon, called "kunimasu" in its native Japan has been found alive and well in a lake more than 300 miles from where it was officially pronounced a memory.

Like all kokanee salmon, the black kokanee is a landlocked version of the sockeye salmon.  This salmon was originally found only in Lake Tazawa in northern Japan.  Lake Tazawa is Japan's largest lake with a depth of almost 1,400 feet.  A hydroelectric project built in 1940 and the resultant acidification of the lake led to the the species demise.

Professor Tetsuji Nakabo led a team of researchers from Kyoto University to Lake Saiko, Japan where they recently discovered a population of black kokanee that is large enough to sustain itself as long as the current lake conditions aren't degraded.  It's believed this population of salmon is descended from a stocking that took place sometime pre 1940 when 100,000 black kokanee eggs are believed to have been transported to Lake Saiko.

The black kokanee is an olive colored fish that grows to about a foot in length.  Researchers are hopeful that fishermen will leave the current population alone until the government develops regulations or protections.

Monday, December 13, 2010

900 Trillion Strong!

Looks like the zebra mussels have ushered in their relatives, in this case their cousins the quagga mussels.  A little bigger in size than zebra mussels, the quagga mussels, like zebras, are very efficient filter feeders and are are hitting the Great Lakes plankton population pretty hard. 

There's kind of a backward silver lining to this cloud of invasive bivalves.  There are so many of them in some lakes that they are starting to starve off their own offspring.  The glitch with this is that they trashed other animal populations first; I said it was a backward silver lining. 

Another wacky in a way thing is if the Asian carp that are threatening the Great Lakes break down the door, they probably wouldn't survive because there wouldn't be anything left for them to eat. Not quite sure how that falls into being a good thing, but it's a good illustration of the mess we get in with invasive species.  It's a losing proposition for even the invasive species.

More needs to be done to keep these plants and animals from our woods and waters.  Whenever one shows up it becomes chaos for everything else and causes billions of dollars in damage.  Visit Protect Your Waters and learn how to join the fight.

A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ecologist recently estimated that there are more than 900 trillion invasive mussels in Lake Michigan alone.  Maybe we should increase linguine production and put these mussels to better use.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

111 Years of Counting: Audubon's Christmas Bird Count

The longest running Citizen Science survey in the world, Audubon’s annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) will take place from December 14, 2010 to January 5, 2011. Tens of thousands of volunteers throughout North America will brave winter weather to add a new layer to over a century of data.\
Scientist rely on the remarkable trend data of Audubon’s CBC to better understand how birds and the environment are faring throughout North America – and what needs to be done to protect them. Data from Audubon’s signature Citizen Science program are at the heart of numerous peer-reviewed scientific studies. CBC data informs the U. S. State of the Birds Report, issued by the Department of the Interior each spring. CBC analyses also revealed the dramatic impact Climate Change is having on birds across the continent.

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count began in 1900 when Frank Chapman, founder of Bird-Lore (which evolved into Audubon magazine) suggested an alternative to the “side hunt,” in which teams competed to see who could shoot the most game, including birds. Chapman proposed that people “hunt” birds only to count them. Now Binocular Brigades often brave winter’s chill, ice and snow to record changes in resident populations before spring migrants return.

"The Christmas Bird Count becomes more important every year," said Audubon President David Yarnold. “The information gathered by its army of dedicated volunteers leads directly to solutions. At a time when people wonder if individual actions can make a difference, we know that our volunteers enable scientists to learn about the impacts of environmental threats like climate change and habitat loss. That’s good news not just for birds but for all of us.

Audubon CBC data not only helps identify birds in most urgent need of conservation action; it reveals success stories. The Christmas Bird Count helped document the comeback of the previously endangered Bald Eagle, and significant increases in waterfowl populations, both the result of conservation efforts.

“Everyone who takes part in the Christmas Bird Count plays a critical role in helping us focus attention and conservation where it is most needed,” said Audubon's Director of Bird Conservation, Dr. Greg Butcher.  “In addition to Audubon’s reports on the impacts of Climate Change on birds and our analysis of Common Birds in Decline, it is the foundation for Audubon’s WatchList, which most identified species in dire need of conservation help.

“The Christmas Bird Count is all about the power of Citizen Science,” says Geoff LeBaron, Audubon's Christmas Bird Count Director. “Our theme is ’I Count’ because the work of tens of thousands of volunteers, extending over a century, really adds up.”

Counts are often family or community traditions that make for fascinating stories. Accuracy is assured by having new participants join an established group that includes at least one experienced birdwatcher. Count volunteers follow specified routes through a designated 15-mile (24-km) diameter circle or can arrange in advance to count the birds at home feeders inside the circle and submit the results to a designated compiler. All individual Christmas Bird Counts are conducted between December 14 and January 5 (inclusive) each season, with each individual count occupying a single calendar day.

The prestigious journal Nature issued an editorial citing CBC as a "model" for Citizen Science.

A New York Times opinion piece captured the pleasure and precision of counting:  “The personal joy they experience from patiently spotting and jotting down each flitting fellow creature, exotic or not, is balanced by a strong pragmatic factor in the management of the census by the National Audubon Society.”

Check this web page in order to join a count.

To learn how to identify birds, and become a bird watcher, locate an Audubon Center near you. Meanwhile, here are a few Birding Basics.

For images and bird songs you can download, see our Christmas Bird Count Press Room.

Let's Go Fishing for Compliments!

I just read a press release from the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC) that struck me as funny. Keep in mind that I do spend a lot of time in the sun, so I often see things quite a bit differently than most. 

Anyway, the commission's press release is asking the public to visit their new web page called "Praise an Employee".  They say "...the public also should have a means to let us know when they have received excellent service from our employees”.

The vast majority of the people who work in the PFBC do an outstanding job. To pick one and single him out really isn't fair to the rest.  There's a negative implication here by the commission that excellent service is unusual and needs to be recognized.  But, I'm sure they know better than I do about what's business as usual around their agency.

The Fish Commission could be tired of hearing complaints and maybe look at this new page as a way to boost morale among its workers.  Everyone likes an "atta boy" once in while and making it easier for the public to acknowledge a job well done might have some merit.  But, I feel excellent service should be expected and overall, excellent service is usually what I've found from the commission's employees. So why this new page?  How about giving us a page where we can point out the knuckleheads.

One person commented to me that during these recessionary times maybe the Fish & Boat Commission adopted a policy of "praise is cheaper than a raise". I got a chuckle out of that.

I wish the Fish & Boat Commission much success with this new program and hope they look for some corporate sponsors to help reward their praised employees.  A Happy Meal would be a very nice touch.

From my side of the river it looks like the PA Fish & Boat Commission has decided to go fishing for compliments.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cast Your Vote for a Pennsylvania River

You have until January 3, 2011 to cast your vote for Pennsylvania's River of the Year.  The Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers (POWR) has narrowed down the ballot to six finalists in their annual Pennsylvania River of the Year honor.

The Pennsylvania River of the Year program is administered by the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers (POWR) and the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR).  The way it works is local organizations submit nominations for the award. The river that's selected then has a year round slate of activities and events planned to celebrate the river, including a special extended paddling trip known as a Sojourn.

Login  at: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/9YM8TSK  and cast your vote!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Catch & Release Only on the Juniata & Susquehanna?

The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC) is proposing a catch and release only fishery for the Susquehanna River below Sunbury, PA and also on the Juniata River.  A trend of declining bass populations on these waters is what has prompted the PFBC to propose these new rules.

Commission biologists have recorded a trend of poor reproduction and low populations of smallmouth bass in these two rivers, that formally had reputations as top rate bass fisheries.

Public comments are invited and anglers are encouraged to write the PFBC at:
Executive Director, Fish and Boat Commission, 
P.O. Box 67000,
Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000 

There's a 90 day window to submit your comments beginning on December 18, 2010.  Faxed comments will not accepted but you may submit electronic comments by completing the form at www.fishandboat.com/regcomments  

Whether submitted in writing or electronically be certain to mention the comment is on proposed Rulemaking # 223

Read the entire proposed rulemaking at this link: 

Cross Current Guide Service & Outfitters December 2010 Update

It never ceases to amaze me how December sneaks up on us.  The season begins in April chasing rainbows and browns on the Upper Delaware and with some diversions for striped bass, false albacore, bluefish and steelhead, then bang, it’s December.

It’s a good thing December hurries and arrives each year. It catches us off guard after a busy year of meeting many new fish.  The colder and shorter days the month brings makes it the perfect time to take a short break and reflect back on the past year. It also allows time to look forward to the coming season with all the exciting new plans laid down.

The past season was as interesting as any with some spectacular days on the water and other days that presented a host of challenges not all that different from other years.  The one common denominator on each and every day on the water was the camaraderie and the good times we shared.

This coming season there are several new things coming up.  First, not really new, but worth mentioning again is our trip to Patagonia this February.  We’ll be hosting several weeks at different locations in Chile. If you’re interested in coming along drop an email or call for more details.  There’s only a couple of spots open.

We’ve added a new guide to our line up.  Ryan Furtak will be joining us this coming season.  Some of you know Ryan from Border Waters Fly Shop where he’s worked the last couple of seasons and from guiding on the Lake Erie tributaries also.  Check the guide page on our website where Ryan’s complete bio will be posted in the near future.

Some “reel” excitement comes with the unveiling of the Double Haul Club.  This has been a yearlong project that has finally come together. We’ll be sending out a separate announcement in January but briefly the Club will provide its members with many benefits including discounts on goods and services, savings on sporting travel, and private access on the Upper Delaware and other locations.  If January is too long to wait call Joe or Coz and one of us will fill you in with more details.

We’ll be at the Somerset, NJ Fly Fishing Show January 21, 22, 23, 2011 and at the new Philadelphia Fly Fishing Show on March 5, 6, 2011.  Coz is a featured “ fly fishing celebrity” at both shows joining the likes of Lefty Kreh, Cathy & Barry Beck, Dave Whitlock, Conway Bowman and others.  Come and check out Coz’s informative and entertaining presentation, then stop by our booth for a visit and learn about the new programs we’re offering.

We’re currently accepting reservations for the 2011 season on the Upper Delaware River and our Fly Fishing Guide School. (Did I say Guide School?) Stay tuned for more on that next month!

Wishing you a Happy Holiday Season and a Merry Christmas,

Joe Demalderis
2010 Orvis Endorsed Fishing Guide of the Year

Sunday, December 05, 2010

The New "Text" Book on Fish & Game Violations

Several states have rewritten the "text" book on reporting fish and game violations with the introduction of anonymous text messaging.  Now anyone can anonymously and quietly drop a dime on violators via the service provided by Tip411.  Officials are hoping more people will get involved leading to better policing of our resources.

Currently, Washington, Wisconsin and Alabama are some of the states that have signed on with the service provided by CitizenObserver of St. Paul, MN.  This service also includes social networking features that allow subscribers to post important information quickly and automatically to social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and others.  Specific groups can also be created and immediately contacted via this service.  Groups like watch groups, specific business or industry groups or any group the user finds useful.

But the primary focus is the ability for anyone with a cell phone to quietly and anonymously text violations that can be immediately responded to.  It also has a web based feature so people can easily access the subscribing agency's website or Facebook page and report suspicious activity and violations.

Text messaging has become the communication method of choice among many people, especially among the younger age groups and Tip411 encourages more people to participate in protecting our to often abused resources.

If your state doesn't already subscribe to this service, forward this article along to them so you can also enjoy the added benefits of "text" book protection.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Android Fly Fishing App Joins iPhone App

Well it was only a matter of time.  Ever since Orvis introduced the iPhone Fly Fishing Application, the questions starting rolling in on their blog and Facebook page about when the Android version would be out. That question is finally answered.  It's here.

The Android and iPhone apps gives you some of the best information available in the form of current fishing reports for hundreds of locations.  There's a casting workshop, bug ID, knot tying videos and more including all of Tom Rosenbauer's popular podcasts.

The $15 price tag for the download also gives you a $10 dollar gift card to Orvis bringing the cost to just five bucks.
Check it out at Orvis.com

Friday, December 03, 2010

The National Wild Fish Health Survey

The list is long, too long. The list is on the US Fish & Wildlife Service website and is dedicated to pathogens and diseases among wild fish populations. The fish these pathogens and diseases attack are among the most popular freshwater sport fish in the country; largemouth bass, trout, sunfish, salmon, perch catfish and many others.

The Fish & Wildlife Service tracks and follows the spread and infection of viruses like Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis Virus (IPNV), Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia Virus (VHS), Largemouth Bass Virus (LMBV) and others. Bacterial Pathogens including Renibacterium salmoninarum (RS) or Bacterial Kidney Disease, Enteric Septicemia (ESC) and more. Parasites like the one that causes Whirling Disease, Myxobolus cerebralis is just one of the fish killing parasites the service also tracks.

Having a data base accessible to the public can alert us to when we're in waters harboring any of these fish killing diseases. Armed with this information we can take action against accidentally causing their spread to new locations by following the protocols of cleaning and disinfecting our equipment.

Take moment and check it out at the National Wild Fish Health Survey  Look up your home waters to see if there is something lurking there.  Since knowledge is the first and strongest defense we have, the more we can increase our awareness the stronger our fight against these diseases will be.  While you're at it check out Protect Your Waters  , a site for anglers and other recreational users who want to help stop aquatic nuisance species.

Please do the fish a favor and forward this to all your fishing friends so they too can join the battle in preventing the spread of fish diseases.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Many Coastal Wetlands Likely to Disappear this Century

Many coastal wetlands worldwide — including several on the U.S. Atlantic coast — may be more sensitive than previously thought to climate change and sea-level rise projections for the 21st century.

U.S. Geological Survey scientists made this conclusion from an international research modeling effort published today in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, a publication of the American Geophysical Union. Scientists identified conditions under which coastal wetlands could survive rising sea level.

Using a rapid sea-level rise scenario, most coastal wetlands worldwide will disappear near the end of the 21st century. In contrast, under the slow sea-level rise projection, wetlands with low sediment availability and low tidal ranges are vulnerable and may drown. However, in the slow sea-level rise projection, wetlands with higher sediment availability would be more likely to survive.

Several coastal marshes along the east coast of the United States, for example, have limited sediment supplies and are likely to disappear this century. Vulnerable east coast marshes include the Plum Island Estuary (the largest estuary in New England) and coastal wetlands in North Carolina’s Albemarle-Pamlico Sound (the second-largest estuary in the United States).

“Accurate information about the adaptability of coastal wetlands to accelerations in sea-level rise, such as that reported in this study, helps narrow the uncertainties associated with their disappearance,” said USGS scientist Glenn Guntenspergen, an author of this report. “This research is essential for allowing decision makers to best manage local tradeoffs between economic and conservation concerns.”

“Previous assessments of coastal wetland responses to sea-level rise have been constrained because they did not consider the ability of wetlands to naturally modify their physical environment for adaptation,” said USGS scientist Matt Kirwan, an author of this report. “Failure to incorporate the interactions of inundation, vegetation and sedimentation in wetlands limits the usefulness of past assessments.”

USGS scientists specifically identified the sediment levels and tidal ranges (difference between high and low tide) necessary for marshes to survive sea-level rise. As water floods a wetland and flows through its vegetation, sediment is carried from upstream and deposited on the wetland’s surface, allowing it to gain elevation. High tidal ranges allow for better sediment delivery, and the higher sediment concentrations in the water allow wetlands to build more elevation.

Coastal wetlands provide critical services such as absorbing energy from coastal storms, preserving shorelines, protecting human populations and infrastructure, supporting commercial seafood harvests, absorbing pollutants and serving as critical habitat for migratory bird populations. These resources and services will be threatened as sea-level rise inundates wetlands.

The rapid sea-level rise scenario used as the basis for this study is accredited to Stefan Rahmstorf at Potsdam University, one of the contributing authors of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report. The slow sea-level rise projection is from the A1B scenario of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report.

The study, “Limits on the Adaptability of Coastal Marshes to Rising Sea-Level,” can be found online.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NOAA Sets $15 Fee for the National Saltwater Angler Registry

Fishermen in Hawaii, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, U.S.V.I. must register or renew in 2011

NOAA announced today that the fee for registering with the National Saltwater Angler Registry will be $15 as of January 1. The change affects anglers, spear fishers and for-hire fishing vessels in Hawaii, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and U.S.V.I., although some anglers are exempt.

Fishermen in other coastal states are exempted from the federal requirement when they comply with state saltwater license or registration regulations. Twenty-two of the nation’s 24 coastal states have saltwater angler registries or licenses and have been exempted from the federal requirement because they are providing registry information to the National Saltwater Angler Registry.

The National Saltwater Angler Registry helps NOAA to gauge the health of marine fisheries. Congress created the registry, a national directory of anglers, through the Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Act of 2006 to improve surveys of fishermen used to assess the health of fish stocks and the economic contributions of anglers. Through effective regulations based on data collected through the registry, NOAA helps to preserve recreational fishing for the anglers, fishing businesses, coastal communities and millions of Americans whose lives and livelihoods are connected to saltwater fishing.

The law authorized NOAA’s Fisheries Service to charge a fee for the annual registration beginning in 2011. Unless fishermen meet one of the exemptions specified in the law, they are required to register if they are fishing in federal waters, or are targeting – or might catch – anadromous fish. These are species like salmon, striped bass, shad and river herring that live in saltwater but spawn in fresh water. In addition, non-exempt anglers who registered in 2010 and are still required to do so have one year from their initial registration date to renew.

Fishermen are also exempt from registering if they are under 16; only fish on federally permitted charter, party or guide boats; hold a Highly Migratory Species Angling permit; or are fishing commercially under a valid license. Fishermen who hold a valid fishing license from an exempted state are automatically entered into the registry, and do not need to take further action. Finally, people fishing in an exempted state who are not required to have a saltwater fishing license in that state – as is sometimes the case with seniors or active duty military – are not required to register.

Persons who meet the definition of “indigenous person” in the final rule for the registry program are required to register, but will not be required to pay the registration fee if they affirm during the registration process that they qualify and acknowledge that submission of a false statement is a violation of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Information on who qualifies as an indigenous person will be posted on the registration website at http://www.CountMyFish.noaa.gov.

The National Saltwater Angler Registry is part of a major initiative to improve how NOAA’s Fisheries Service gathers, analyzes and reports recreational fishing data. The goal of the Marine Recreational Information Program, or MRIP, is to ensure that the data scientists, managers, stock assessors and others need to effectively conserve our nation’s ocean resources is available, accessible, held to the most exacting scientific standards, and broadly trusted by our partners and stakeholders in the fishing community and others. For more information or to register, visit http://www.CountMyFish.noaa.gov or call toll-free 1-888-MRIP-411.

Conservation And Industry Groups Team Up To Bring Fishing To Military Families

Take Me Fishing™ Collaborates with Sierra Club Water Sentinels and Zebco to Donate Rods and Reels to Military Families

ALEXANDRIA, VA (November 23, 2010) – In recognition of America’s veterans and those who currently serve in the military, the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation’s (RBFF) Take Me Fishing campaign has partnered with the Sierra Club’s Water Sentinels and the National Military Fish & Wildlife Association (NMFWA) to give families on military installations an opportunity to experience the great outdoors through fishing. Rod and reel manufacturer Zebco donated more than 500 rods and reels to the program, which otherwise would have fell just short of reaching retail racks.

“Supporting this program was a very natural decision for us,” said Zebco President Jeff Pontius. “By providing the repurposed rods and reels to military families, we not only have the opportunity to show support for our troops, but also engage new anglers in the sport of fishing.”

Take Me Fishing and Zebco shipped the most recent donation to the Sierra Club Water Sentinels who will distribute the rods and reels to members of the National Military Fish & Wildlife Association for repeated use by families on military installations. The NMFWA will communicate this opportunity to its members to solicit additional participation in the program. Since 2009, more than 59,000 youth have benefited from the donation initiative on 17 military bases in 11 states.

“Our goal is to expose youth to the outdoor experience and our members will be thrilled with the opportunity to get youth on military installations involved,” said NMFWA President Tammy Conkle. “The premise of this program encompasses everything we stand for. It’s outstanding.”

“We’re very excited by this partnership,” said Sierra Club Water Sentinels Director Scott Dye. “Together, we’re making a difference in the lives of youth by engaging them in outdoor activities and efforts to clean up and protect America's water resources.”

Since 2005, the Take Me Fishing campaign has played a critical role in helping generate nearly $20 million for state conservation efforts and introducing more than one million youth and newcomers to boating and fishing. The campaign increases awareness of the need to protect, conserve and restore the nation’s aquatic natural resources through encouraging participation in recreational boating and fishing. The rod donation program is a means of both reaching a new audience to build this awareness while at the same time supporting the nation’s troops and their families.

The rods and reels provided by this program will extend the opportunity for outdoors experiences to the nation’s military youth, who may otherwise face barriers such as overseas deployment of parents.

Our research shows that fishing is recognized as the top 'gateway' activity to other outdoor interests,” said RBFF President & CEO Frank Peterson.  “We’re hoping these fishing experiences will have a positive impact on families when given the opportunity to get out and enjoy one of America’s favorite pastimes together.”

To learn more about the program or to donate your own rods and reels, visit http://www.sierraclub.org/watersentinels/.

About RBFF
RBFF is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to increase participation in recreational angling and boating, thereby protecting and restoring the nation’s aquatic natural resources. RBFF helps people discover, share and protect the legacy of boating and fishing through national outreach programs including the
Take Me Fishing™ campaign and Anglers’ Legacy™.

About the Sierra Club’s Water Sentinels
The Water Sentinels are a program of the Sierra Club, the nation’s largest and oldest grassroots environmental organization.  Sierra Club Water Sentinels work to protect, improve and restore the waters of the United States by fostering alliances to promote water quality monitoring, public education and citizen action. Sierra Club Water Sentinels are also committed to creating outdoor opportunities for youth across the country.

Monday, November 22, 2010

$9.2 Million to Restore Fish Habitat in Great Lakes

NOAA Announces $9.2 Million to Restore Fish Habitat in Great Lakes

NOAA announced today that it has awarded about $9.2 million to nine projects throughout the Great Lakes Region that will restore fish habitat by removing dams and barriers, constructing fish passage, restoring wetlands, removing marine debris and invasive species.

NOAA received funding from the Environmental Protection Agency through President Obama’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to support these projects.

“Industrial activities and development have led to the habitat degradation in the Great Lakes basin,” said Eric Schwaab, assistant administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service. “These projects to restore more than 700 acres of habitat and open more than 100 miles of river for migratory fish passage, are an important step in restoring the fisheries of the Great Lakes.”

Projects funded include:

• Removal of the Campbellsport Millpond Dam (Campbellsport, Wis.) – $684,000 –
The Village of Campbellsport will remove the Millpond Dam, opening fish passage
throughout the uppermost 25 miles of the Milwaukee River and restoring approximately
22 acres of wetland and 3,000 feet of free-flowing river.

• Erie Marsh Preserve Coastal Wetland Restoration Project (Erie, Mich.) – $2.5
million –The Nature Conservancy will construct and improve levees, water distribution
canals, and water control structures; install a new water supply system; and build a fish
passage structure. This will increase the quality and diversity of approximately 258 acres
of coastal wetlands and provide additional fish spawning and rearing habitat.

• Fordson Island Oxbow Restoration and Debris Removal (Detroit, Mich.) – $150,000
– Detroit Wayne County Port Authority will remove 15 metric tons of shoreline debris in
and around Fordson Island. The island, located in the Rouge River just upstream of the
Detroit River, is uniquely positioned as a refuge for fish and wildlife.

• Lower Black River Fish Habitat Restoration Project (Lorain, Ohio) – $1.7 million –
The City of Lorain, Ohio will build two fish habitat shelves, totaling more than 3,000 feet
of new fish habitat, in the Black River watershed – a tributary to Lake Erie.

• Restoring Lake Erie Hydrology and Coastal Marsh (Middle Harbor, Ohio) –
$643,000 – Ducks Unlimited will install a culvert to establish fish access and restore the
water connection to Lake Erie. At least 350 acres of submerged aquatic grasses and
other native vegetation will be planted, which will provide natural and long-term flood
control in the marsh.

• Radio Tower Bay Restoration Project (Duluth, Minn.) – $665,000 – In the first phase
of this project, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and its partner, the
Minnesota Land Trust, will remove marine debris, including 460 derelict pilings, from
Radio Tower Bay.

• Restoring Native Fish Spawning Habitat in the St. Clair River Delta (St. Clair,
Mich.) – $890,000 – Michigan Sea Grant will construct 40,000 square feet of native fish
spawning habitat in the St. Clair River and connect spawning habitat to almost 14 square
miles of rich, underutilized nursery area in the St. Clair delta.

• Coastal Fisheries Habitat Restoration in the St. Lawrence River (Watertown and
Alexandria Bay, N.Y.) – $1 million – As part of an on-going restoration effort, Ducks
Unlimited will install fish passage and excavate river channels at three locations in the
upper St. Lawrence River watershed in New York. The project will restore and enhance
110 acres of marsh ecosystem and fish spawning habitat.

• Watervliet Dams Removal in the Paw Paw River (Berrien, Mich.) – $920,000 –The
Berrien County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority will remove two concrete dams,
restoring fish passage to more than 100 river miles, including 31 miles of the mainstem
and tributaries of Lake Michigan.

The EPA provided the NOAA Restoration Center with funding for habitat restoration in the Great Lakes region as part of President Obama’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a collaborative effort between EPA and 15 other federal agencies with a goal of building on existing and current work to restore the Great Lakes.

For more information on the Initiative and Action Plan go to www.greatlakesrestoration.us

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Fish That Roars?

Well not really, but the Lionfish is causing quite a roar among fishermen and other environmentalists with some comparing the lionfish invasion of the southeast US coast to the Asian carp invasion plaguing the Mississippi River system.

Lionfish are native to the western Pacific Ocean and range from Japan, Korea and south to Australia.  These voracious predators have found their way into the warm waters from the Carolinas to Florida and are causing concern as they prey on juvenile native fish like grouper and snapper.  Not only are they eating machines, disrupting the natural ecology of the reefs they invade, but they are poisonous having venomous needle-like fins that deliver a painful sting that can cause nausea and breathing difficulty. Rarely fatal, the sting does present a health and safety threat to fishermen, divers and swimmers.

One novel control mechanism has been the fishing derbies that are held in Florida where the fish have established a stronghold.  The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, which much of is off limits to fishing for other species, has been the site of one of these derbies where over 650 lionfish were captured by specially licensed divers and served as part of the menu at the evening banquet.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) launched an Eat Lionfish Campaign aimed at getting people to fish for, remove and eat these invasives as a means of controlling their spread and growth.  Some restaurants have started adding them to their menu with diners comparing the delicately flavored fish to grouper or snapper.  Female lionfish can lay over 2 million eggs a year which means stopping their spread is going to take a big appetite. Up and down the east coast the battle cry is "Kill It and Grill It!"

Lionfish are believed to have found their way to the US via the aquarium trade where they may have accidentally found their way into US water following hurricanes in the 1980's and 90's. 

Feds Enforce Right Whale Wrongs

The Right Whale Ship Strike Reduction Rule became the law on December, 2008 and during the rules first season only letters of notice were given to violators.  This ship strike rule applies to vessels of 65 feet and greater and restricts their speed to a maximum of 10 knots in these special zones.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that notices of violation were issued to seven vessels that violated the rule in the 2009-20010 season. The penalties for this violation range from $16,500 to $49,500.  The special speed limit is only in effect from November 1st to April 30th, times when the slow moving, surface dwelling Northern Right Whales are most likely to be present.

There are only about 300 to 400 Northern Right Whales left in the world.  Because of this they are given protection under the endangered species act and are also given special rights of way by the enactment of vessel speed limits in certain waters from Rhode Island to Georgia.

Right Whales are huge, baleen whales using their baleen "strainers" to feed on zooplankton as they swim.  They can weigh up to 70 tons and reach lengths of 55 feet.  Calves are 14 to 15 feet when they're born after a year long gestation period by the female.  Since females not becoming sexually mature until ten years of age the population of these whales is very slow growing.  Studies show that the whales numbers have only been holding steady for the last several decades.

Collisions with ships are the whales greatest threat.  Besides speed restrictions several other steps have also been taken by the government to reduce the likelihood of ship strikes such as; changes to the Traffic Separation Scheme servicing Boston, MA, Mandatory Ship Reporting systems that provide right whale sighting information to mariners, speed advisories of 10 knots to vessels in locations where right whales are seen, and recommending shipping routes in critical calving areas off  the Florida and Georgia coasts and Cape Cod Bay where whales tend to aggregate.

These seasonal regulations are set to expire on December 6, 2013 at which time NOAA will make a determination as to the laws effectiveness in protecting the Right Whale and increasing its population.

Pennsylvania Fishing License Can Give You an Extra Month to Fish

The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission's fishing license year runs from January 1st to December 31st.  But each year the following year's fishing license goes on sale beginning December 1st.  This means if you buy your Pennsylvania 2011 license in December of 2010, you also get December 2010 covered. A bakers dozen of fishing months!

If you already have a current PA fishing license this doesn't do a thing for you, but if you don't and are thinking of getting one December is a good time to do it.  You'll pick up some steelhead fishing opportunity in the Lake Erie tributaries and some trout fishing opportunities in the waters approved for extended trout seasons. There's walleye, muskie and pike fishing to be had too.

You can buy your license at authorized issuing agents located throughout the state or do it online with a few mouse clicks and a credit card.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Redneck Fishing Tournament

Asian carp are a huge problem in the Mississippi River watershed which means it's a huge problem from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. The Mississippi River is the largest river system in the US flowing for over 2,300 miles. The basin takes in all or part of 31 states, more than half the country! So it's no wonder that what affects this river affects all of us.

Not to minimize the scope of the problem - it is huge - these folks are doing their part ridding the river of as many carp as they can and having a good old time doing it!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Commercial Striped Bass Harvest Increase Denied by ASMFC

Conservationists praise ASMFC decision on striped bass

Managers reject proposal to increase commercial harvest 


CHARLESTON, SC – After months of intense debate, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) announced today that it has denied a proposal to increase the commercial harvest of striped bass by up to 50 percent. Public sentiment has run intensely against the proposal from the moment it was introduced last February, as recreational anglers up and down the East Coast flooded their ASMFC representatives with calls to deny the proposal.

“This is a great day for conservation,” said Richen Brame, CCA Atlantic States Fisheries director. “Managers were very much in danger of increasing mortality at a time when the stock is declining, but they took the conservative approach in light of all the uncertainty surrounding the stock today. They should be commended for refusing to take a path that could have ended in disaster.”

Last February, conservationists were stunned when the ASMFC Striped Bass Management Board chose to ignore a host of significant concerns from scientists and enforcement officers about the health of the striped bass population, and instead directed its staff to draft a proposal to increase commercial harvest. Anglers who remembered the dark years of the ‘70s were alarmed that managers were attempting to ramp up commercial harvest even as anglers were seeing serious warning signs on the water.

“CCA members, particularly in Maine and New Hampshire, have said repeatedly they are not seeing striped bass in the abundance seen just a few years ago,” said Mac McKeever, president of CCA Maine. “Anglers in the northern reaches of the striped bass range are the canaries in the coal mine when it comes to the health of the striped bass population, and anglers here are not encountering anywhere near as many fish as they did just a few years ago. There is definitely reason to be concerned.”

Other warning signs pointing to a need for managers to take a cautious approach include declining trends in the striped bass Juvenile Abundance Index, “significant and unreported” poaching in the Exclusive Economic Zone, and the potentially devastating impact of Mycobacteriosis in Chesapeake Bay, the primary striped bass spawning ground for the entire Atlantic Coast. Seventy percent of the fish sampled there had lesions associated with the disease and in aquaculture, Mycobacteriosis infections are virtually always fatal.

“Our members were especially motivated to contact their representatives on the ASMFC throughout this process and let them know this is no time to be talking about increasing harvest of striped bass,” said Charles A. Witek, chairman of CCA Atlantic Fisheries Committee. “The problems facing striped bass today are far more complex than simple overfishing. Managers did the right thing by taking a precautionary approach to management. Striped bass are the crown jewel of ASMFC’s  management successes and should be treated as such.”
CCA is the largest marine resource conservation group of its kind in the nation. With almost 100,000 members in 17 state chapters, CCA has been active in state, national and international fisheries management issues since 1977. Visit www.JoinCCA.org for more information.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Amazonian Port Collapses into River

This really has nothing to do with fishing except that it happened near water...

The Amazonian port of Chibatão, Manaus, Brazil literally collapsed and fell into the river.  Manaus is the capital of the Amazonas state and is located at the confluence of the rivers Negro and Solimões. The footage was captured by a security camera and shows just how fast something can go terribly wrong.  Two workers were confirmed missing and up to ten others may have got swept to their deaths.

Porto Chibatão is the largest private port complex of Amazonas state and is located on the Rio Negro.  There was construction being done at the time the landslide occurred to create an access to a floating pontoon that served as a berth due to low water levels in the river.  The river was at its lowest level since records began in 1902 due the Amazon’s worst drought since 1963. According to the government’s geological service, the Rio Negro was at a depth of 13.63 meters, down from a high of nearly 30 meters last year.

Lake George Steamed About Clams

This past August a colony of invasive clams was discovered in New York's Lake George.  Called Asian clams after their ancestry of southeast Asia, these invaders compete with native organisms for food and excrete nutrients that promote algae growth.  They can also turn the water green and the calcium they release helps zebra mussels flourish.  Like the zebra mussels, they reproduce quickly and clog pipes.  All in all, not good.

Lake Tahoe has the same problem in an even bigger way.  Experts from there have visited Lake George to help with the eradication effort.  The current plan is to place benthic mats over the colonies and suffocate them.  The mats seem to have had an impact in Lake Tahoe in controlling the clams and the hope is that in Lake George they'll be able to eliminate the clams before they get too strong a hold.

According to the United States Geologic Survey (USGS) Asian clams are currently in over 35 states plus the District of Columbia.  They first showed up in the US on the west coast in the 1930's.  Now they are found across the entire country.

The best way to prevent infestations of Asian clams and other invaders and hitchhikers from spreading is to follow the recommendations found at Protect Your Waters This website is part of the "Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!" campaign sponsored by the US Fish & Wildlife Service and the United States Coast Guard.  A visit to their website provides valuable information on the many invasive species threatening our waterways along with directions on how to help prevent and curtail their spread.

Tim Daughten from the Orvis Company has an excellent video on how to prevent the spread of this and other invasive species.  Check out this two minute video here: Tips For Stopping The Spread Of Invasive Species

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Coalition documents Obama’s ghoulish salmon plan

Calling it devoid of science and law, salmon and fishing advocates say biological opinion is a bad ‘trick’ on the people of the Northwest 

November 3, 2010

PORTLAND, Ore. – A coalition of fishing, business, and conservation organizations asked a federal judge today to declare President Obama’s Columbia and Snake river salmon recovery plan illegal.

“We’d like to pretend this plan is just a ‘trick’ and the ‘treat’ is still to come,” said Michael Garrity of American Rivers. “But we can’t. We’ve been here too many times before. This administration has got to stop trying to put a pretty costume on an ugly plan and start following the law and science. We’re dealing with people’s livelihoods and keystone species on the brink of extinction.”

Because federal dams are harming threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake rivers, the law requires federal agencies to create a plan – or biological opinion (BiOp) – to reduce the damage. The papers filed today respond to the Obama administration’s continuing failure to provide legal, science-based plan.

“For two years the coalition has asked the Obama administration to uphold its promises for scientific integrity and transparency,” said former Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries chief Jim Martin. “It appears those were empty promises. If anything, the administration is going backward in terms of openness and scientific integrity.”

In 2009, the coalition asked Obama to review the 2008 Bush salmon plan. The Obama administration agreed to do so, but instead of significantly improving the legally flawed Bush salmon plan, the administration adopted the plan as its own. The only addition from the Obama administration was an Adaptive Management Implementation Plan (AMIP) that promises only to study additional measures to help Endangered Species Act-listed salmon should their populations collapse.

The Western Division of the American Fisheries Society judges the AMIP “inadequate for ensuring the protection of threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River Basin."

The Society review found that rather than using a precautionary approach to protecting threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead, the plan “seems to use a precautionary principle to support the 2008 Biological Opinion and defend the status quo.”

Such skepticism of the Obama approach is widespread. “The federal government simply ignored science that didn’t meet its political goals – it ignored science from the AFS, fisheries biologists with the State of Oregon or the Nez Perce Tribe, and its own so-called ‘independent scientists,’” Martin said. “This plan puts the weight of risk on the fish in violation of the law, and the risk is of extinction.”

The Obama plan, according to the coalition’s filing, augments the flawed approaches of the past with new unscientific defects. For example, the Obama plan details the threat climate change poses to salmon, but proposes no new actions to address climate impacts.

Obama’s plan offers no new actions to protect Snake River sockeye salmon whose woefully low numbers have already tripped predetermined action “triggers.” The Western Division of the American Fisheries Society deems the federal agency approach to Snake River sockeye protection “inappropriate.”

Moreover, the Obama administration’s process for adopting the biological opinion has been shrouded in mystery. Legal proceedings have revealed federal agencies’ refusal to release more than 40 percent of the relevant documents.

"The current plan is nothing more than more of the same failed policies of the Bush administration, only with a new cover sheet.” said Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations (PCFFA), one of the plaintiff groups. “We’re seeing neither good science nor good policy in this plan – just another prescription for failure. More failure just destroys more salmon-dependent jobs.  At-risk salmon-dependent communities have a right to a plan based on science and law, not on politics and denial.”

Briefing on the case will continue through the end of 2010. A hearing before the United States District Court in Oregon isn’t expected until early 2011.

Plaintiffs in this case include a broad range of regional and national conservation groups, fishing associations, and business interests. They are joined by the State of Oregon, the Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho, and the Spokane Tribe of Washington.


American Rivers is the leading conservation organization fighting for healthy rivers so communities can thrive. American Rivers protects and restores America's rivers for the benefit of people, wildlife and nature. Founded in 1973, American Rivers has more than 65,000 members and supporters, with offices in Washington, DC and nationwide.


Yellow Breeches Project

The joint Yellow Breeches conservation project spearheaded by American Rivers and supported financially by the Orvis Company is designed to allow this legendary trout stream to flow free and clear and contribute to increasing the water quality of the Susquehanna River watershed.

By removing three dams on this river, critical trout spawning habitat will again be connected to clear runs benefiting the wild fish population of this legendary and popular trout stream.

Check out the letter American Rivers sent to Orvis updating them on the project:


The letter is published on The Orvis Company's new blog, The Orvis News   The Orvis News is all about conservation issues, fly fishing news & events, sporting dog and upland bird hunting along with high quality writing and photography.

Catch & Release Fishing... Do it right!

Over the decades catch & release fishing has taken a firm hold in the sport fishing community.  My guess is it started with fly fishing and more specifically, trout fishing.  This is just my guess and probably because that's where I was first exposed to the practice. Wherever it began isn't really as important as the fact that catch & release fishing began. It has since spread to become more of a common practice with just about every fresh and saltwater game fish.

From my side of the rod, that's great news (even better news to the many fish that are released each season).  The practice has led to better fishing in many fisheries.  It also eliminated the waste of storing fish in freezers until they became freezer burned only to be discarded several months later.

It's great that catch & release continues to gain popularity with anglers, but catch & release is more than just "throwing 'em back".  Taking proper care of the fish in your hands is an important element in successful catch & release fishing.   

Jason Puris of TheFin.com put together a good short video with Bob Popovics, Carl Safina and Brad Burns on how to release a striped bass. 

Here's a link to the video: http://www.thefin.com/ViewVideo.aspx?vid=61b5d3af-0998-4728-a4b5-f82082cdae3b

Friday, November 05, 2010

Anglers Evaluate NOAA Catch Share Policy

Anglers Evaluate NOAA Catch Share Policy
Final policy on controversial management tool opens door to reallocation, but perils of implementation remain

WASHINGTON, DC – November 4, 2010 – After months of intense debate, today’s official release of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations’ (NOAA) Catch Share Policy provides recreational anglers with two key elements: a framework to redistribute the benefits of harvesting the nation’s marine resources; and a commitment that catch shares have no place as a management tool for private recreational anglers. Coordinated input from the angling community significantly altered aspects of the draft policy, particularly the process of allocating fisheries between sectors.  However the system of assigning fixed percentages of various fisheries to commercial interests remains a controversial management tool to recreational anglers.

“It’s clear that NOAA’s leadership was listening at its Recreational Fishing Summit last April when the entire spectrum of the recreational angling community, from guides to tackle manufacturers to charter boat operators, voiced its apprehension regarding this policy,”said Mike Nussman, president and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association. “A number of significant improvements called for by participants at that summit and in subsequent dialogue with the agency are reflected in this document.”

Although catch share systems have been used in federally managed commercial fisheries for decades, the Obama Administration’s creation of the Catch Share Policy Task Force signaled a new intent to force catch share systems widely into federal commercial and recreational fisheries. Many in the recreational community were adamantly opposed to the Administration’s new direction as it was articulated in the draft catch share policy released in December 2009.

“It was never a question of ‘if’ catch shares were going to be a focus for this Administration,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation. “It was simply a matter of ‘how’ and ‘when.’ Although we continue to be opposed to separating the charter and private recreational sectors, by engaging with the Task Force and NOAA’s leadership, the recreational fishing community has helped shift the view of catch shares as a panacea to simply being another tool in the toolbox that managers may elect to use if a series of conditions are met.”

As previously implemented, catch share systems in mixed commercial and recreational fisheries bestowed a percentage of a public fishery resource to a select group of private commercial entities based solely on their catch history, effectively locking in the allocation of that fishery forever while ignoring the growing participation and beneficial economic impacts of recreational fishing. Coastal Conservation Association has challenged just such a plan in federal district court. However, among the conditions laid out in the policy released today is a requirement for the fishery management councils to address the allocation prior to the implementation of any catch share system using conservation, economic and social criteria. The policy also requires that every mixed-use fishery allocation be reviewed periodically using the same criteria.

“All of those requirements were put forth at NOAA’s Recreational Fishing Summit as pieces that might make this policy more workable,” said Ellen Peel, president of The Billfish Foundation. “This is a good indication that the agency and Dr. Lubchenco are listening and, as promised at the summit, responding to the expressed concerns of our community. We are committed to working with the Councils and the Administration to ensure the pieces of the policy fit together to benefit recreational angling.”

The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) is the sportfishing industry’s trade association, committed to looking out for the interests of the entire sportfishing community. We give the industry a unified voice speaking out when emerging laws and policies could significantly affect sportfishing business or sportfishing itself. We invest in long-term ventures to ensure the industry will remain strong and prosperous as well as safeguard and promote the enduring economic and conservation values of sportfishing in America. ASA also represents the interests of America’s 60 million anglers who generate over $45 billion in retail sales with a $125 billion impact on the nation’s economy creating employment for over one million people.

New Home Rivers Initiative on Michigan's Rogue River

Trout Unlimited Launches New Home Rivers Initiative on Michigan's Rogue River

Project to restore urban watershed near Grand Rapids.

Grand Rapids, Mich. - Trout Unlimited has launched a new watershed-scale restoration project on the Rogue River.

Aimed to protect and restore the Rogue River watershed near Grand Rapids, the project will address the impacts of development and other pressures due to its location in an urban area.

"Trout Unlimited set its sights on the Rogue River because it faces the pressures of development and urbanization and is an important river to this section of Michigan, in the state where TU was founded 50 years ago," said Warren Colyer, Trout Unlimited's Watershed Programs Director. "We're very excited to hit the ground running to improve water quality, habitat, and coldwater fisheries in the watershed."

The Rogue River is a tributary to the Grand River, which flows into Lake Michigan and supports a migratory steelhead fishery. The Rogue River is an extremely important trout fishery resource in southern Michigan. The lower portion of the river, below the dam in Rockford, is known for its excellent steelhead runs in the late winter and early spring. The eastern tributaries, particularly Cedar, Stegman and Duke creeks support brook, brown and rainbow trout fisheries.

Nichol De Mol has been hired as the project manager. A water resources expert, she was previously a watershed manager at the Annis Water Resources Institute of Grand Valley State University. The Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative office will be located in Muskegon.

"All of our TU chapters in Michigan are excited about this project and beginning intensive efforts focused at improving and protecting this important coldwater trout salmon and steelhead fishery," said Bryan Burroughs, executive director of Michigan Trout Unlimited.

This project is one of 12 Home Rivers Initiatives that TU operates throughout the country.

Working with a number of local partners, including the Schrems West Michigan chapter of TU, the Michigan TU Council, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment and other groups, TU will improve stream habitat and erosion control in the watershed. The project will increase habitat restoration efforts and analyze thermal impacts of the Rockford Dam on the Rogue River, as well as improve fish passage there. TU will work with local municipalities to better manage stormwater and will engage local citizens to help increase protection of the watershed.

Financial support for the project has been generously provided by the Frey Foundation, the Wege Foundation, Wolverine World Wide, Inc., the Schrems West Michigan TU Chapter and Robert DeVilbiss. 

Trout Unlimited is the nation's largest coldwater conservation organization, with 140,000 members dedicated to conserving, protecting, and restoring North America's trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds.

Fifty Dollar Nippers

“These modern nippers are total departure from traditional line cutters which are usually just an adaptation of old fashioned nail clippers . . . just the kind of creative, Twenty First Century thinking anglers expect from Abel,” said Don R. Swanson, president.

Yep,  Abel has re-invented the line nipper. The Abel Nipper is 1-3/4" long, 3/4" wide and tapering to 1/2" wide at the jaws.  It weighs seven-tenths (0.7) of an ounce.  A needle used to clean hook eyes is integrated into the jaws.  It'll cut line from 7X all the way to 100lb test which is good because that's what nippers are supposed to do. They look just like a nipper too, so there won't be any problems recognizing them.

For your $50 you not only get a nipper, but your nipper has replaceable blades that Abel will replace for free during the first three years.  After that it's $10 to get replacements, that is if you don't loose the nippers by then.  If you want to add fish graphics to your nippers double the price to $100.  Pretty cool.  I can't wait to find a pair of these along the stream bank.

Hey, What Kind of Fish Is This?

Thanks to the International Game Fish Association's (IGFA) new iPhone app that features a fish ID description and color photo of every game species, you'll now know what that unrecognizable critter is hanging on the end of your line. The descriptions include extensive reference material from the IGFA including thorough habitat information, geographic distribution and fish anatomy.  The IGFA are the folks who maintain the record books for all tackle, line class, and fly tackle records for just about everything that has fins.

This app will also let you know if the fish you caught qualifies for a record, along with the rules so you'll know if your catch counts.  The IGFA didn't leave out the fly rodder's either, listing the rules for that tackle and game too.  There's even a feature with directions to get you to the closest official weigh station to get your record catch certified.  There's more too, check it out with the IGFA

If you have an iPhone you already use your phone for more than making calls, so now you can add a fishing related feature to wow your fishing buddies after you search the IGFA database and find that you qualify for a record.  Or you can just use it to kill time during the next meeting or seminar you're forced into attending. By the way it's only 9 bucks from the IGFA

Monday, November 01, 2010

No More Chubs & Smelts in Big Reed Pond

And that's a good thing if you're an Arctic char.  Big Reed Pond is in northern Maine and is one of only 12 locations where Arctic char still exist in the lower 48 United States.  The other locations are also in Maine.

The smelt, rainbow smelt to be exact, and creek chubs where accidentally or illegally introduced into the pond most likely by fishermen who dumped their unused baitfish into the water.  The chubs and smelt really took off and displaced the native fish like the Arctic char and brook trout.

Enter the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologists who over time captured the native fish and brought them to a private hatchery for safe keeping. With the pond cleared of its natural residents, the biologists then poisoned the pond with Rotenone to kill off the invasive species. Rotenone is a pesticide, in this case a piscicide that is made from the roots of several South American plants.  It biodegrade in just a few days leaving no harmful after affects or residue.  Check Rotenone out on the internet if you wish to learn more about it.

Remember the captured fish that were taken to the private fish hatchery? Well they're the parents to genetically pure char and trout that will be reintroduced into Big Reed Pond sometime over the next two years.  The work of these biologists along with a little luck could serve to ensure that Arctic char continue to survive in their native habitat.

Spiney Water Fleas: Not so small an issue

One of the least known of the aquatic invaders to US waters is the Spiney water flea and it's smaller cousin, the Fishhook water flea.  Both of these critters fall into the crustacean family along with shrimp, crabs, crayfish and the like.  But unlike the more popular crustaceans these guys are pretty small, placing them in the zooplankton family.

As a general category, zooplankton are a very important part of the food chain and contribute greatly to a healthy waterway.  However, both these water fleas are larger than your average zooplankton and as such feed heavily on the smaller, native zooplankton. They also reproduce very rapidly and quickly takeover a food supply.  The smaller plankton that they feed on are a very important food source for most juvenile fish.

It's not just being bigger than other zooplankton, but these fleas also have a funky body shape.  Their body is longer and has barbs along its length making it difficult for small juvenile fish to handle them.  Studies have shown that poor growth rates in fish have been the result.

Now all the above is bad enough, but try to visualize this; infestations so great that nuisance build ups occur on fishing line making angling nearly impossible to enjoy.  These build ups look and feel like wet cotton on the line.  As the line is reeled in the water fleas build up in the guides jamming the whole show.  Fisherman are often left with no alternative but to cut their line in order to free up the mess.

These guys are European imports and currently are found in Lake Ontario, Lake Michigan and some inland lakes in New York state.  Odds are, based on where they're confirmed now, that they're in other places too. To curb their spread it is important to be extra diligent in cleaning equipment. Not just the usual wader cleaning and boat scrub but also cleaning fishing line on the reel as these little guys can easily hide and survive there too.

Let's put up a good defense to this invasion and always follow the cleaning instructions on Protect Your Waters website to curtail the spread of these and other aquatic nuisances.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pennsylvania Adds Streams to List of Class A Wild Trout Waters

The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission recently added several streams to their list of Class A Wild Trout Water.  Class A wild trout waters represent the best of Pennsylvania’s naturally wild reproducing trout fisheries. The Commission manages these streams solely for the perpetuation of the wild trout fishery.  These streams do not get stocked with hatchery fish.

The new additions are: Kleinhans Creek, Pike County; Sand Spring Creek, Lackawanna County; Hunter Creek, Carbon County; Catasauqua Creek, Iron Run and Spring Creek, Lehigh County; Shades Creek, Luzerne County.

Class A Trout Water can be wild Brook, Brown or Rainbow trout with different criteria needed for each species of trout.  There are also combined species waters.  The complete list can be found on the PA Fish & Boat Commissions website: http://fishandboat.com

Friday, October 29, 2010

Deep Fried & Eaten Alive!

 Bon Appetit... I don't think so!

Here's the difference between catching and releasing a fish, keeping, killing and eating a fish and what amounts to torture.  I only have a problem with the torture part.  Steam some clams or boil a lobster.  It dies pretty quickly and then you eat it... no problem for me there. But, even a fish catcher, eater and sometimes fish killer like myself found more than enough things not to like...

Didymo Confirmed in Remote Chilean Rivers

The invasion of the diatom Didymosphenia geminata, or didymo, has spread to remote Chilean rivers near Esquel, Argentina.

Didymo is a disgusting aquatic invasive species that has hit several regions of the world. It invaded New Zealand in 2004 and has since spread to 32 watersheds there. Didymo, or "rock snot" as it's affectionately called, is a problem because of its propensity to erupt into massive “nuisance blooms” that cover stream and river bottoms. These dense masses can alter the aquatic habitat for other life forms, such as invertebrates and fish, and consequently the health of the entire waterway.  In other words, they choke everything else out.

The presence of didymo was first reported in Lago Sarmiento, Chile, in 1964, but this is the first known occurrence of a nuisance bloom in South America. The newly discovered bloom was reported on Rio Espolon and Rio Futaleufú, covering  a total of more than 56 river kilometers.

Didymo is known to survive in damp conditions for more than 30 days and can be transported on the gear of anglers, boaters, kayakers, swimmers and just about anyone or anything that comes in contact with water. The pristine, low-nutrient rivers that anglers, kayakers and vacationers seek are the same ones that are most vulnerable to large blooms of didymo.

Didymosphenia geminata cells produce large amounts of mucilaginous stalks. These stalks are white and look like wet toilet paper when clinging to fishing line. The stalks, cells, and associated sediment can resemble raw sewage lining riverbeds or streambeds.  Rock snot is a most descriptive slang term for the stuff.

Didymo presents a paradox to scientists because it is able to create large amounts of biomass in low-nutrient rivers. Recent work indicates that the amount of stalk produced is related to the phosphorus concentration of the water, implying that the stalk acts to attract and take up phosphorus for the cells. In some regions of the world, the blooms are persistent for a number of years after the initial invasion.

Clean you gear, including boots, waders, fishing tackle, lures, flies, boats, swimsuits and anything that comes in contact with the water.  Visit Protect Your Waters for more information and advise on dealing with didymo and other invasive junk: http://www.protectyourwaters.net/