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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Orvis Wins Fly Rod & Reel's 2010 Kudu Award

In their December '09/January '10 issue, Fly Rod & Reel magazine announced the winners of their 2010 Kudu Awards. Not surprisingly to those who fish them, the Orvis Helios Rod took the fly rod honors.

The Helios first showed up three years ago and after numerous field trials and evaluations Orvis now offers this rod in a selection of practical and essential freshwater and saltwater versions. The Freshwater rods come in 2 weights up to 7 weights, including switch rods in 5, 6, and 7 weights. The poularity of switch rods that allow you two hand or single hand cast is growing from the steelhead and salmon rivers to the larger trout rivers. The Helios switch rods are just the rod for doing double duty in varying situations.

When Orvis added the Helios Ion they gave the small stream angler the advantages of Helios technology in a package designed for the challenge close quarters provide, where quick loading and pin point accuracy can determine your success. In lengths as short as six feet all the way up to 7'9", these Helios Rods start out weighing less than an ounce. The perfect brook trout rod and also a rod that can handle bigger fish on bigger water.

On the Saltwater side you'll find Helios Rods in 6 through 12 weights. There's an 8 weight switch rod in the line up too. This versatile switch rod is excellent for casting off the beach for striped bass, Atlantic salmon fishing and steelhead on the larger rivers.

Congratulations to Orvis for achieving Fly Rod & Reel's Kudu Award.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

NY DEC Proposes American Shad Fishery Closures

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

With the American shad population in the Hudson River at historic lows, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced draft regulations to prohibit commercial and recreational fishing for American shad both in the Hudson River and the Marine and Coastal District of New York.

The closure is necessary because the Hudson River shad stock has declined dramatically since the 1990s. Juvenile production dropped to below average in 2002 and has not rebounded. Hudson River recreational and commercial fisheries were restricted in 2008 with the hope that it would trigger some improvement in production of young American shad. With no improvement in stock status, a fishery closure was the only remaining alternative.

DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis said: "New York is proposing this measure because of the severity of the declines in the American shad population throughout the region and the importance of protecting this species. DEC has thoroughly evaluated all the data available and a closure is the most appropriate step to help this fishery recover."

Last year the DEC adopted the Hudson River American Shad Recovery Plan (PDF, 109 Kb) to help rebuild the stock. In 2009, several parts of the Recovery Plan were implemented, including: a tagging/tracking study to better to understand adult spawning habitat use; a bycatch monitoring program to quantify American shad caught in ocean fisheries; sample collections to evaluate habitat use by early life stages of fish; and a continuation of diet studies on predatory fish such as striped bass. DEC is working on a Recovery Plan update which will include a progress report and is developing reopening criteria for the recreational and commercial fisheries.

Also, DEC's draft regulations propose a change to the daily creel limit for American shad in the Delaware River from 6 fish a day to 3 fish to further protect that population.

The draft regulations were released today in the New York State Register - NYS DOS Division of Administrative Rules - 2009 State Register Index . The public comment period will be open until Jan. 4, 2010. Written comments can be sent to Kathryn Hattala, NYSDEC 21 S. Putt Corners Rd., New Paltz, NY 12561 or by email to kahattal@gw.dec.state.ny.us .

For further information regarding status of New York's American shad stocks, please visit the DEC website and access Hudson River American Shad Status (PDF, 78 Kb) document.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hydros Fly Rods

Orvis Rod & Tackle has done it again! After the very successful introduction of the Helios rods a couple of years ago the Orvis Company has taken the same graphite and scrim technologies and applied them to the new Hydros series of fly rods. It looks like they took the jewelry off the Prince and came out with a rod that is just about every bit as good as a Helios. Just a lot less bling.

What are some of the differences? The Hydros rods don't have the cool Recoil guides of the Helios nor does it come in a sexy woven graphite rod tube. The rod is in your basic Codura covered tube and the hardware on the rods are more in line with other companies premium rod lines.

What did this do? Well, first it made the Hydros rods the second lightest fly rods made (the lightest rod is still the Hydros' rich uncle, the Helios). And they did this at a price point that's lower than other premium rods. If you're in the market for a new rod you should give this rod a try.

Am I going to replace my Helios rods with this rod? Of course not. But the next rod I buy that I know is going to get banged around in the boat and generally used very hard is likely to be a Hydros.

The Hydros was Winner of the Midcurrent.com 2009 Best of Show award and is already being manufactured from 3 weights to 12 weights, in all the same configurations as the Helios except for the switch rods. I already see myself using the 8'6' or 9' 5 & 6wt and the 9' 9 & 10wt as my standard boat rods. The 10' 7wt should make a sweet steelhead rod on the Great Lakes Tributaries. And I already know what my next 12wt is going to be.

A light rod that casts well, fishes well, is built tough and costs less is a good thing.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

New Mine Drainage Treatment Plant Will Improve 35-Plus Miles of the West Branch Susquehanna River

$11 Million Project Will Treat Up To 10 Million Gallons of Mine Water per Day

Barr Township, Cambria County – Construction has begun on a mine drainage treatment facility that will restore aquatic life to the upper reaches of one of America’s most polluted rivers and improve the economic outlook for the entire region, according to the Department of Environmental Protection.

During a groundbreaking ceremony today, DEP Deputy Secretary for Mineral Resource Management J. Scott Roberts said the Lancashire #15 treatment plant will improve water quality in at least 35 miles of the West Branch Susquehanna River.

“No place in America has paid a heavier price for the unregulated mining practices of the past than Pennsylvania’s northern bituminous coal fields and the West Branch Susquehanna River,” Roberts said. “Here in the midst of some of the most remote and beautiful country in the eastern United States, approximately 1,000 miles of the West Branch and its tributaries are impaired because of mine drainage.”

The new mine drainage treatment plant will treat up to 10 million gallons per day of acidic water from the abandoned 7,100 acre Lancashire #15 mine complex. Currently, the Susquehanna River is losing this water because the Lancashire #15 mine pool is pumped, treated and discharged to the Ohio River Basin on the other side of the mountain. This prevents the mine pool from rising to an elevation where it will drain into the West Branch. In 1969, the mine blew out and caused a fish kill for more than 40 miles of the West Branch of the Susquehanna.

The influx of fresh water into the basin will counteract the effects of numerous acidic discharges in the headwaters, restoring aquatic habitat to an estimated 35 miles of the river and improving water quality as far downstream as the Curwensville Lake in Clearfield County.

In addition, the added water will help make up for the estimated 15.7 million gallons that agricultural operations use in the middle and lower Susquehanna Basin, extending the benefits of this treatment plant as far downstream as the Chesapeake Bay.

“Capturing and treating the acid mine drainage that impairs 5,500 miles of Pennsylvania’s rivers and streams and reclaiming our 180,000 acres of abandoned mine lands is one of the most ambitious environmental restoration efforts in the nation,” Roberts said. “Construction of the Lancashire #15 mine drainage treatment facility is a significant step toward restoring this waterway and the entire region, improving property values and recreational opportunities, and providing fresh water to offset downstream agricultural consumption.”

The facility will go online by the fall of 2011. It will pump water from the mine, treat it with hydrated lime to remove metals, and raise the water’s alkalinity before it is discharged into the river.

The plant’s construction will be financed by Pennsylvania’s Acid Mine Drainage Trust Fund, created with funds set aside from the federal Abandoned Mine Lands Fund. The federal fund is supported by a tax on the modern coal industry and is distributed to states as annual grants to reclaim mine sites that were abandoned prior to passage of the federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977.

In addition, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission has placed a $3.9 million appropriation from the legislature in trust to fund partially the perpetual operation and maintenance of the plant. The commission has set aside another $2.1 million for the operation and maintenance of a planned treatment plant in the headwaters of the Clearfield Creek, which is also severely degraded by mine drainage and negatively affects water quality where it joins the West Branch downstream of Clearfield.

Through a combination of federal funds and grants from Pennsylvania’s Growing Greener program, DEP and local watershed groups have spent $85 million on 280 mine drainage projects, and have restored aquatic life to formerly dead streams, such as Babb Creek in Lycoming and Tioga counties, Toby Creek in Clearfield and Jefferson counties, and the Stoneycreek River in Cambria and Somerset counties.

For more information, visit www.depweb.state.pa.us, keyword: Abandoned Mines.

Monday, November 09, 2009

NOAA Commissions New Fisheries Survey Ship

November 6, 2009

NOAA Ship Pisces.

NOAA Ship Pisces is the third of four newly constructed fisheries survey vessels and is homeported in Pascagoula.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

Senior NOAA officials today commissioned NOAA Ship Pisces, the nation’s most advanced fisheries research vessel, and dedicated a new fisheries laboratory in Pascagoula, Miss. The vessel and the NOAA laboratory will support fisheries research in the Gulf of Mexico, southeastern United States and the Caribbean.

“Our fisheries and the marine ecosystems that support them are vital to our nation’s economy,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator, who attended today’s ceremonies. “The knowledge we’ll gain from Pisces and the Pascagoula laboratory will greatly enhance our understanding and stewardship of these precious resources.”

Pisces, built by Pascagoula based VT Halter Marine, is equipped with high tech research equipment and quiet-hull technology. The vessel is so quiet and so advanced that scientists can study fish populations and collect oceanographic data with minimal impact on fish and marine mammal behavior.

The 208-ft ship is the third of four newly constructed NOAA fisheries survey vessels of the same class. Pisces is operated by the NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations and is homeported in Pascagoula.

NOAA's new Southeast Fisheries Science Center’s Pascagoula laboratory.

NOAA's new Southeast Fisheries Science Center’s Pascagoula laboratory.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

Pisces was named by a team of students from Sacred Heart School in Southaven, Miss., and christened by Dr. Annette Nevin Shelby, professor emerita at Georgetown University and wife of U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby.

The new Southeast Fisheries Science Center’s Pascagoula laboratory replaces the laboratory that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. At approximately 55,000 square feet, the building contains office space for 104 scientists, a library, and meeting rooms. This enables NOAA to consolidate several previously dispersed programs in the Pascagoula area including the Pascagoula Laboratory; National Seafood Inspection Laboratory; and the Documentation, Approval and Supply Services office.

One new feature at the facility is an environmental laboratory that will allow scientists to analyze environmental data such as temperature/depth profiles, oxygen data, and other environmental data collected on all survey cruises. These data will be useful in monitoring environmental factors such as hypoxia, but also will be incorporated into ecosystem models.

The structure is also designed to be more hurricane resistant, with a first floor elevation of 17 feet and is capable of withstanding winds up to 150 mph. Walton Construction, LLC, based in Kansas City, Mo., with an office in Harahan, La., led the design and construction team which includes partners such as HDR in Alexandria, Va., and Gibbens Drake Scott in Kansas City.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.

NOAA - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - Captain John Lowell Named Director of NOAA Office of Coast Survey

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


Nov 3rd, 2009 | By Capt. John McMurray

ASFMC Denies Increase in Commercial Striped Bass Harvest
Anglers rally to defeat proposal for commercial sector to kill more fish

Coastal Conservation Association commends the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) for denying a proposal to increase the commercial harvest of striped bass at its meeting this week in Newport, Rhode Island. The proposal would have allowed commercial fishermen to add at least half of their uncaught commercial striped bass quota to their quota for the following year. Many anglers from CCA Maine made the journey to Newport to express their concern over the status of this important fish, and their voice made a difference.

“The Striped Bass Board understands that anglers at the north and south of the striped bass range are not seeing the numbers of fish they saw even just a few years ago,” said Richen Brame, CCA’s Atlantic States fisheries director. “There is cause for concern and we commend the ASMFC for taking a conservative approach.”

In its formal comments before the ASMFC against the proposal, CCA cited several disturbing trends in the striped bass fishery, including a dramatic decrease in the number of striped bass caught and released by recreational fishermen, particularly in the northeastern states of New Hampshire and Maine, the prevalence of the fatal disease Mycobacteriosis among the Chesapeake Bay spawning stock, and a Fish and Wildlife Service annual survey that encountered the fewest striped bass in the survey’s history.

“While officially the stock is not overfished and not undergoing overfishing, there are signs that the overall abundance is declining,” said Brame. “The proposed action to allow the commercial industry to take more fish was not a remedy for any of the problems we are seeing with striped bass. Increasing abundance is what will fix those problems.”

While the motion was defeated by a vote of 8-6, the margin of the victory means recreational anglers will have to maintain vigilance at the ASMFC to protect the recovery of striped bass.

“After the vote on the original motion, there was immediately another motion to allow the commercial sector to rollover 25 percent of their uncaught harvest to the next year, which was also defeated,” said Brame. “We will continue to see efforts like this and it was very encouraging to hear Board members remark on the number of comments they received against this proposal from the public. Our members will have to be ready to stand up for conservation.”

The following states voted against the rollover proposal: Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. Voting for the proposal were Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Potomac River Fisheries Commission, North Carolina and the National Marine Fisheries Service. The Fish and Wildlife Service abstained.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

DEC Arrests Striped Bass Poachers in Brooklyn, NY

October 30, 2009

Routine Patrol Nets 2 Men Catching Undersize and Over-limit Fish

State Environmental Conservation Officers recently arrested two fishermen in Brooklyn for catching dozens of striped bass that were undersized and in excess of allowable limits, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced.

While on marine patrol in the Breezy Point area, Environmental Conservation Officers (ECO) Jamie Powers and Kevin Thomas spotted activities on a boat that made them suspect poaching and they tracked the vessel back to its dock in Shell Bank Creek off Seba Avenue. There, the ECOs witnessed John Arena of Parksville, Sullivan County, and Mark Sarubbi of Brooklyn, struggling to drag two totes full of striped bass up to a truck.

The officers then approached the men and began counting the catch. The fishermen, who realized their day of "good" fishing had just met its end, watched as the ECOs counted out 46 striped bass - the legal recreational limit for the trip for both men is only 2. The fish weighed a total of 295 pounds and the vast majority of the fish - 40 - were less than the minimum size requirement of 28 inches.

Arena and Sarubbi were arrested and charged with possession of 40 undersized Striped Bass; possession of 44 Striped Bass over the legal recreational harvest limit; possession of 46 untagged Striped Bass; taking Striped Bass for Commercial Purposes without a permit; and failing to possess a valid food fish license. Additional charges are anticipated.

Their arraignment is scheduled for early December. They are facing thousands of dollars in fines and a possible four years in prison. The Brooklyn District Attorney's Office is prosecuting the case. The fish were seized and destroyed because Striped Bass are not permitted to be harvested for commercial sale from waters west of East Rockaway Inlet due to the potential level of contaminants in the fish.

Information on illegal harvest of any species of saltwater fish, shellfish or crabs can be reported to the Marine Enforcement Unit at (631) 444-0460 or by using the toll-free number of 1-877-457-5680.