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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Clean water bill commended by sportsmen

New legislation would restore Clean Water Act protections, conserve fish and wildlife habitat and hunting and fishing opportunities

April 21, 2010
Water World

WASHINGTON, DC, April 21, 2010 -- The nation's leading sportsmen-conservation groups today commended the introduction of legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that would restore critical Clean Water Act protections for streams, lakes, wetlands and other important waters. The America's Commitment to Clean Water Act would help sustain the healthy habitat, robust fish and wildlife populations and range of economic benefits that rely on America's waterways and wetlands and would reverse recent Supreme Court decisions that jeopardize the nation's water resources.

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the Izaak Walton League of America, the National Wildlife Federation and Trout Unlimited have been vocal proponents of legislation that reinstates safeguards previously in place via the Clean Water Act. The bill introduced by Rep. Jim Oberstar of Minnesota responds to these groups' calls for congressional action that strengthens conservation measures for water and wetland ecosystems essential to American hunting and fishing traditions.

"America's waterways and wetlands form the cornerstone of our fish and wildlife populations and our continued ability to enjoy the outdoors," said Tom Franklin, TRCP director of policy and government relations "and so the nation's sportsmen speak together in commending Congressman Oberstar's leadership in introducing the America's Commitment to Clean Water Act -- and urging his House colleagues to exercise similar sound judgment in supporting this crucial legislation's speedy passage into law this spring."

The bill represents a new approach to addressing threats posed by the Supreme Court's SWANCC and Rapanos decisions by including
  • provisions that reinforce that the bill's purpose simply is to restore Clean Water Act protections to waters protected prior to the SWANCC decision;
  • a more specific definition of "waters of the United States" that closely follows the definition the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers have used for decades;
  • new exemptions for prior converted cropland and certain waste treatment systems;
  • specific references to Congress's constitutional authority to conserve and restore the nation's waters.
The legislation also deletes the term "navigable" from the Clean Water Act to clarify that congressional intent was to protect U.S. waters from pollution rather than to sustain navigation.

"America's Commitment to Clean Water Act is a new bill that would ensure the Clean Water Act protects streams, lakes, wetlands and other waters," said Scott Kovarovics, conservation director with the Izaak Walton League. "It's a balanced, common-sense solution that the House should quickly approve."

The threats to America's water resources caused by the Supreme Court decisions radiate across the landscape:
  • Safe drinking water: The EPA estimates that more than 117 million Americans receive drinking water from public water systems supplied by streams most at risk of losing Clean Water Act protection.
  • Fish and wildlife habitat: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that America's Prairie Pothole Region produces 50 percent of the nation's duck breeding population. These and other wetlands are at risk because they are seasonal and may not support boating or otherwise be "navigable."
  • Economic growth: Fishing, waterfowl hunting, boating and other outdoor activities depend on clean water and wetlands and are fundamental components of the U.S. economy. In 2006, 1.3 million waterfowl hunters generated $2.3 billion in economic activity; in 2007, recreational boating generated $100 billion.
"Congressman Oberstar's important legislation underscores the threats facing clean water and habitat," said Steve Moyer, Trout Unlimited vice president of government affairs, "yet it also presents a clear path forward for enabling our leaders to right the deficiencies of current law. American sportsmen offer the congressman our thanks for responding to our repeated requests for such forward-thinking measures and look forward to working with him and his House colleagues to advance this bill into law."

"The America's Commitment to Clean Water Act reflects Representative Oberstar's commitment to listen to a wide spectrum of interests when developing legislation for Congress to consider," said Jan Goldman-Carter, wetlands and water resources counsel with the National Wildlife Federation. "The EPA and state agencies are finding enforcement of the Clean Water Act increasingly difficult under current law. By acting now, the House of Representatives can conserve drinking water, irreplaceable fish and wildlife habitat and our nation's sporting legacy."

More than half of the estimated 221 million acres of wetlands originally existent in the United States have been lost. More than 90,000 Americans recently signaled their support of restoring federal protections for wetlands and clean water by signing the We Are Wetlands petition, launched by the TRCP. The petition far exceeded its goal of 80,000 names -- one for each acre of natural wetlands that our country loses each year -- and calls for a legislative fix restoring the integrity of the Clean Water Act.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Upper Delaware River Fishing Reports

Throughout the season we will be giving fishing reports for both the Upper Delaware River and the East Branch of the Delaware.  To see the current reports please click on the following links:

Upper Delaware River

East Branch of the Delaware

Advocacy Group Endorses NY/PA "White Paper" On Delaware River Tailwaters Ecosystem

A key stream advocacy group has endorsed an important new “white paper” by officials in New York and Pennsylvania that urges improvements in water releases from New York City‟s three reservoirs into the Delaware River tailwaters.

The white paper analysis was done jointly by the Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission in a report entitled, “Recommended Improvements to the Flexible Flow Management Program for Coldwater Ecosystem Protection in the Delaware River Tailwaters.”

The 36-page report gives a scientific analysis of benefits to the fisheries and ecosystem of the tailwaters and the Upper Main Stem of the Delaware River that could be realized by increased releases while still assuring adequate water is available to meet the drinking water needs of all of the communities that draw water from the river. Currently, releases from the three reservoirs are determined by an agreement called the Flexible Flow Management Program that was adopted three years ago by four basin states and New York City that are the parties bound by a 1954 Supreme Court decree.

“Flows in the tailwaters under the white paper release schedule will be substantially better than they have been under the FFMP,” said Dan Plummer, chairman of FUDR. “We also anticipate that we will see significant gains in habitat in the Upper Main Stem under this new release program.” Plummer urged the decree parties to immediately adopt the proposed schedule of releases set forth in the white paper.

Al Caucci, vice president of FUDR, said, “We know that there certainly is enough water to go beyond the white paper release levels while continuing to meet everyone‟s needs. But this new release schedule moves us much closer to maintaining a robust trout fishery in the East and West Branch and well down the Main Stem from the beginning of April through the end of October.”

Friends of the Upper Delaware River is a not-for-profit organization that advocates on behalf of the river system, its residents, its businesses and its trout and other marine life. FUDR has been a leader in the battle to get in place a more sensible water-release plan from the area‟s reservoirs, providing both safety from flooding and a sustainable world-class fishery.

“While we‟re pleased to see this cooperative effort by the New York and Pennsylvania fisheries experts, we also are renewing the proposal FUDR, Trout Unlimited and other conservation groups made a year ago for a larger release program that goes beyond the white paper proposal,” said Lee Hartman, FUDR vice president and chairman of the Delaware River Committee for the Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited. He said the conservation groups‟ renewed proposal would provide substantially larger releases to the tailwaters over a longer period of time than the FFMP while continuing to assure ample water for New York City.

“Obviously, we have more work to do to maximize this incredibly valuable fishery and ecosystem,” said Plummer. “We‟re very pleased to see that the two state agencies view the white paper as a working document to provide release recommendations based on the most current information available.”

Plummer noted that even since the white paper was released, the media reported that New York City‟s water consumption dropped another 12% during 2009, perhaps in response to increased water usage fees. This continuing trend toward lower consumption will further reduce predicted risk levels and support additional releases in the future.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

New York's New Freshwater Fishing Regulations

Thursday, April 15, 2010

DEC Adopts New Freshwater Fishing Regulations

Changes to Become Effective October 1, 2010

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis today announced the finalization of changes to the state's freshwater fishing regulations which will become effective on Oct. 1, 2010.

"New York continues to provide some of the nation's best freshwater fishing, and these regulation changes will continue to sustain our robust fisheries, helping to ensure excellent fishing opportunities throughout New York for today and many years to come," Commissioner Grannis said.
The changes to the freshwater regulations are the result of a two-year process during which DEC solicited public feedback during the development of the proposals, and also provided a comment period for public input on the draft rules.

"All of us at DEC are grateful for the feedback from anglers and other stakeholders during the rulemaking process and their input is reflected in this final package," Grannis added.

Some of the changes apply to multiple waters in New York, while others are waterbody-specific. Modifications to enhance angling opportunities for a particular species or group of species and regulations that provide for the protection of vulnerable game fish species are among the changes. Several actions will eliminate "special regulations" (i.e. those different than the Statewide Angler Regulations) that are no longer needed based on the targeted species' population trends. Highlights of the changes include:
  • A special allowance (mostly in DEC Regions 5 and 7) for five extra brook trout less than eight inches has been eliminated. With the exception of certain water-specific regulations, the daily limit is now five trout of any size.
  • A 10-fish daily limit has been established for river herring (alewife and blueback herring) on the Delaware River and the West Branch Delaware River bordering Pennsylvania.
  • The regulation for walleye on Burden Lake and Dunham Reservoir in Rensselaer County and Muskellunge Lake in Jefferson County requiring an 18-inch minimum size, three fish daily limit has been eliminated. Statewide regulations now apply.
  • Fishing is seasonally prohibited on a section of the Oswegatchie River below the dam in Ogdensburg in St. Lawrence County to protect spawning walleye.
  • Fishing for or possessing river herring (alewife and blueback herring) on the Mohawk River in Saratoga County between Lock 2 and Guard Gate 2 (Waterford Flight) is now prohibited.
  • A 1.8-mile catch and release/artificial lures only section has been established for trout on the Chittenango Creek between Cazenovia and Chittenango in Madison County.
  • The baitfish use restriction in Weeds Mine Pond in Columbia County has been eliminated.

Selected Long Island Highlights of Changes

  • The catch and release regulation for all species at Hempstead Lake in Nassau County has been eliminated. County-wide regulations now apply.
  • The 15-inch minimum size limit for black bass in Fort Pond and Lake Ronkonkoma in Suffolk County has been reduced to 12 inches.
  • A year-round catch and release season has been established for black bass in Randall Pond in Suffolk County.

Selected Adirondack Highlights of Changes

  • Special regulations for chain pickerel in various Region 5 waters have been eliminated. Statewide regulations now apply.
  • Special regulations for northern pike on Adirondack Lake in Hamilton County have been eliminated. Statewide regulations now apply.
  • Special regulations for yellow perch and sunfish in Clinton, Essex, Franklin and Hamilton Counties, including Schroon Lake have been eliminated. Statewide regulations now apply.
  • The open season for trout on Glen Lake (Warren County) has been extended to allow ice fishing.
  • The minimum size limit for lake trout has been reduced from 21 inches to 18 inches in Lake Bonaparte, Lewis County.
The full text of the new 2010-2012 regulations can be viewed on the DEC website. The "Assessment of Public Comment" is available on the Department of State website by selecting "April 14, 2010." (Please see link in the right column of this page.) DEC reminds anglers to always check the regulations for the specific water where fishing is planned to make sure the regulations did not change.

Monday, April 12, 2010

2010 Delaware River American Shad Forecast

After several years of decline, the 2010 Delaware river shad run looks like it's going to one of the better ones in recent history.

Reports of 20+ fish days are common throughout the river up to the Delaware Water Gap. This past week the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission electrofished a stretch of river near Raubsville, PA and averaged 39 fish per hour, a very high number according to fisheries biologists.

Hopefully the shad run will continue to be strong.  Recent years have seen a marked decline in the fishery that prompted a decrease in the recreational harvest in an effort to allow more fish to spawn once they enter the river.  The American shad fishery in the Hudson River was closed this season due to the perilous condition of the Hudson River shad stocks.

Shad are a popular hard fighting sport fish on conventional tackle where they're caught using various jigs, shad darts and spoons.  They are also a lot of fun on a fly rod where they take wet flies, steamers, dry flies and specialized shad fly patterns.  By the time mid to late May arrive, these fish will have reached the upper stretches of the Delaware into the East Branch and even the Beaverkill system. 

To the trout fisherman they can be a nuisance or a delight.  Some fisherman dislike it when a shad takes his dry fly that's been carefully presented to what was thought to be a large trout feeding on mayflies.  Other fly fisherman purposefully go out to catch these annual visitors enjoying the excitement and variety they provide.

I'm glad the shad run is showing signs of recovery. The American shad is a true native to the river and has a lot of history behind it. An excellent book, The Founding Fish by John McPhee does a wonderful job covering this important fish and is very much worth reading.

If you'd like to give fly fishing American Shad a try visit FlyFishTheDelaware.com

Friday, April 09, 2010

Dozens of DEC Free Fishing Events Slated across New York

From April through October, Adults and Kids Can Experience Fishing Fun

Twenty-six Free Fishing events were announced today by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis. During these specially-designated activities in each DEC region, the agency waives the requirement to purchase a fishing license with the goal of encouraging new interest in fishing and educating the public about New York's unique natural resources.

"These events are a great way to take part in one of New York's oldest and most exciting outdoor recreational activities," Commissioner Grannis said. "Fishing is a wonderful way to spend time with family or to enjoy solace in nature, and we hope that young and old alike take part in these fun and educational events."

DEC's Free Fishing events provide participants with an opportunity to learn about fish identification, fishing equipment and techniques, fisheries management, angling ethics and aquatic ecology in their communities. No fishing license is required to participate. Many activities, such as family fishing clinics, also provide equipment to use (check with the event contact to find out the specifics). Each of DEC's nine regions can sponsor up to four free fishing events per year. Most free fishing events occur during the period from April through October.

For a listing of currently posted events and contact information, visit the DEC website. Be sure to keep checking the list, as new events may also be added during the fishing season.

In addition, each year DEC designates the last weekend of June as "Free Fishing Weekend." For 2010, New York's Free Fishing days are Saturday and Sunday, June 26 and 27. During those two days, anyone can fish New York State waters and no fishing license is required. This event started in 1991 to allow people the opportunity to sample the incredible fishing New York State has to offer. It is the perfect time to take a friend or relative fishing since no license is required.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Upper Delaware Early Spring Fishing Report

The Upper Delaware trout season is on!  Early season waters are still too high for safe wading and the water temperatures on the USGS gauges are still reading in the low 40's.  Fishing has been a boat game with streamers the most productive early season high water fly and technique.  The only wading is on the Beaverkill and Willowemoc where it still can be a bit tricky.  

Barring any significant rainfall, look for the water on the West Branch of the Delaware to quickly drop,  The current water flow management plan is dictating heavy reservoir releases until the reservoir stops spilling.

Early stoneflies in the size 12 range are hatching as are some charcoal caddis.  I've heard reports of blue quills along with small olives in the #18 range and even some Hendricksons, but not much surface activity in the cold water.

Keep updated with real-time data on select Upper Delaware River Water Flow Gauges 

Part of this week's weather forecast is still for unseasonably high temperatures into the low 80's. Thunder storms are expected to move in by Thursday and continue into Friday.  By Friday night we could see some snow showers as temperatures fall into seasonable ranges again dropping into the upper 20's by Saturday night.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Money Back on Fishing License Purchase

Shakespeare Offering Money Back on Fishing License Purchase

Offer Promoted in Partnership with TakeMeFishing.org

COLUMBIA, S.C. (April 1, 2010) – Shakespeare and Take Me Fishing™ are partnering to promote fishing among youth, adults and families. Potential anglers that purchase $30 or more of Shakespeare kits* or combos* and also purchase a 2010 fishing license can submit their claim form and receive $10 dollars back.

“This promotion is a great way to strengthen the excitement of fishing,” said Mike Phillips, Shakespeare Brand Manager. “We want families to learn more about fishing, enjoy the outdoors together, and save some money in the process. Take Me Fishing and Shakespeare encourage parents to plan family outings to have fun fishing this summer.”

The promotion will kickoff just in time for the spring fishing season beginning April 1, 2010 and expires August 31, 2010.

Take Me Fishing, the boating and fishing communities’ award-winning national campaign, helps boaters and anglers of all ages and experience levels learn, plan and equip for a day on the water. The campaign Web site, TakeMeFishing.org, features tips and how-to’s and an interactive state-by-state map that allows visitors to find the perfect boating and fishing spot by interest.  It also contains information on how to obtain a fishing license and tools to design your dream boat.

“We’re pleased to promote this great offer on TakeMeFishing.org,” said Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) President and CEO Frank Peterson. “We want to inspire boaters and anglers to get out on the water, which will ultimately help protect the legacy of the sport and the future of our nation’s waterways.”

Shakespeare recently introduced the Catch More Fish series of complete fishing combinations. These all-inclusive and affordable fishing kits include Shakespeare rods and reels, Stren® line and Berkley® baits; everything the average angler needs to catch more fish.  More importantly, the Catch More Fish combinations take the guess work out of buying fishing equipment as each combination is matched to a specific species of fish or type of fishing. 

For more information about Shakespeare go to Shakespeare-Fishing.com and to learn more about Take Me Fishing go to TakeMeFishing.org.

*Must purchase 2 or more Shakespeare items with a combined retail value of $30 or more.  Shakespeare Ugly Stik kits or combos are not included in this promotion.

About Pure Fishing, Inc.
Pure Fishing, Inc. is a leading global provider of fishing tackle, lures, rods and reels with a portfolio of brands that includes Abu Garcia®, All Star®, Berkley®, Fenwick®, Gulp!®, Mitchell®, Penn®, Pflueger®, SevenStrand®, Shakespeare®, Spiderwire®, Stren®, Trilene® and Ugly Stik®. With operations in 19 countries and a dedicated workforce conversant in 28 languages, Pure Fishing, Inc. is part of Jarden Outdoor Solutions, a leader in developing outdoor and active lifestyle products and a subsidiary of Jarden Corporation. Additional information can be found at www.purefishing.com.

About Jarden Corporation
Jarden Corporation is a leading provider of niche consumer products used in and around the home. Jarden operates in three primary business segments through a number of well recognized brands, including: Branded Consumables: Ball®, Bee®, Bicycle®, Crawford®, Diamond®, First Alert®, Forster®, Hoyle®, JavaLog®, Kerr®, Lehigh®, Leslie-Locke®, Loew-Cornell® and Pine Mountain®; Consumer Solutions: Bionaire®, Crock-Pot®, FoodSaver®, Harmony®, Health o meter®, Holmes®, Mr. Coffee®, Oster®, Patton®, Rival®, Seal-a-Meal®, Sunbeam®, VillaWare® and White Mountain™; and Outdoor Solutions: Abu Garcia®, All Star®, Berkley®, Campingaz®, Coleman®, Exofficio®, Fenwick®, Gulp!®, JT®, K2®, Marker®, Marmot®, Mitchell®, Penn®, Pflueger®, Rawlings®, SevenStrand®, Sevylor®, Shakespeare®, Spiderwire®, Stearns®, Stren®, Trilene®, Ugly Stik® and Volkl®. Headquartered in Rye, N.Y., Jarden has over 20,000 employees worldwide. For more information, please visit www.jarden.com.

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™.
Contact: Kevin Jarnagin
Blue Heron Communications
(800) 654-3766

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Flying Fish Invasion - Asian Carp & The Great Lakes

This invasion began in the 1970's and has grabbed the headlines as they move north and threaten one of the great ecosystems of the world, the Great Lakes.

The invaders; Asian carp.  These fish encompass several species of carp that are simply lumped together and collectively called Asian carp.  They are made up of grass, black, bighead and silver carp and can reach weights of 100 pounds.  They eat half of their body weight in food every day.  The plankton they feed on is at the very base of the food chain that native and commercially valuable fish depend on in the Great Lakes.  Introduce this much competition to the food supply and the result will be disastrous.

Originally introduced in the deep south to clean ponds and lagoons these carp soon escaped and found their way to the Mississippi River where they have been steadily working their way north.  Getting perilously close to Lake Michigan, electronic fish barriers have been set up to impede their migration.  Some experts feel that it's inevitable that they'll get into the Great Lakes, but the effort still must be made to slow or stop it's destructive invasion.

Besides being a threat to the ecosystem, Asian carp are dangerous to people and boats, both commercial and pleasure.  At the sound of an engine entire schools of these fish go into a panic and jump high out of the water like a crazed fish riot, injuring people and damaging property.  Most of us first saw this happening as a humorous attachment to an email, but since the initial production of that famous email these fish have become more numerous. 

The carp are prolific breeders with a long spawning season lasting from April to September.  They spawn multiple times during that period and from the amount of the biomass they make up in some tributaries of the Mississippi, they are very successful.  Estimates range up to 95% of the biomass in some sections of river are Asian carp.  The Upper Mississippi River drainage and the Great Lakes provide these carp with habitat that closely duplicates their native Asian range.

It's going to be expensive to keep these fish out of the Great Lakes.  $13 million has been earmarked by the federal government to finance the Army Corp of Engineers efforts to stop the carp, the Great Lakes States have also dedicated millions to try and keep these fish at bay.  Estimates range as high as $30 million dollars will be needed just in 2010 to keep the carp out of the lakes.

This six minute video on YouTube sums up the situation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oii4U3cQx_E&feature=player_embedded#