Thursday, December 29, 2011

The state of Rhode Island released its 2012-13 fishing regulations

The state of Rhode Island released its 2012-13 fishing regulations brochure without much fanfare, offering no hint that there was anything controversial or game-changing inside. And it took anglers a little while to read all the way to the bottom of the section titled "Freshwater Fisheries Regulations," where they were astonished to find something entirely new tacked on:

RI Felt 1 copy

Such a regulation is obviously not new—Vermont and Maryland have enacted similar bans—but it was quite a shock to Rhode Island's angling population, which didn't know such a rule was coming. And unlike the bans in the other states, this one includes salt water.

While we think that bans on felt soles are in the best interest of fly fishers everywhere, it seems very strange that Rhode Island chose to implement such a ban without any public input. It will be interesting to see how this story progresses.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Safety tips can help keep ice anglers dry, warm

Early-season ice fishing can be great, but the ice conditions are often sketchy. Here are some tips for staying safe:

Check in with a local sport shop or bait shop to get up-to-date information before you set out.

Check out ice conditions before you go. Ask other anglers or local sources and take into account changes in the weather during the past 24 hours.

If you have even the slightest doubt about the safety of the ice, stay off it.

It's OK to wear a life jacket or carry a throwable floatation device.

Wear a warm hat that covers your ears. In cold weather, 75 to 80 percent of heat loss from the body occurs from an uncovered head.

Wear mittens. They are warmer than gloves and reduce the chance of frostbite.

Before you leave home, tell someone where you plan to fish and when you plan to return.

Carry a pair of long spikes on a heavy string around your neck. That way if you break through the ice you can use the spikes to grip the ice and pull yourself out of the water.

• Go with someone who knows the water and how ice tends to form and change. For those without an ice-fishing buddy, check out one of the ice-fishing blogs, or a website like, with ice-fishing updates, chat and a map of where ice is found in the U.S. and Canada.

When on the ice, remember:


Read more:

Thursday, December 22, 2011

PCB cleanup exceeding expectations


For years, General Electric argued that dredging its toxic PCB pollution from the Hudson River would only stir up pollution and send it downriver. This month, the Environmental Protection Agency signaled that GE’s old scare tactic was far from the truth when it upped its goal for removing PCB-contaminated sediment by 25%. The cleanup is ahead of schedule, and we’re that much closer to our longstanding goal of restoring the Hudson’s fisheries – and reclaiming our river.

· Get Informed: Read about the history of PCB contamination in the Hudson River.

· Do Your Part! Donate to Riverkeeper’s Hudson River Program.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Felt Bans in the News


   The first US felt ban was proposed for Alaska in 2009 and, after several modifications, a statewide ban on the use of felt for recreational fishing will take effect on the 1st of January. This regulation, implemented administratively by the Alaska Board of Fisheries, has been planned for a couple of years so there should be no surprise for anglers or retailers. Meanwhile, most of the press stories about the ban are very supportive.   Read More

   Alaska joins Vermont and Maryland as states with bans already in place. As we reported last month, Missouri will have a ban on selected cold water fisheries before their season opening. With legislative sessions scheduled to begin across the country in January, it is likely that we will see additional bans debated and perhaps adopted. 

   With bans spreading it would seem logical that consumers would be looking to purchase non-felt boots. However, the opposite seems to be the case as reports indicate high demand for felt soled boots. 

  Felt bans are one of the hottest topics among anglers and we continue to provide a comprehensive accounting of all felt ban proposals in the US at US Felt Bans

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Shocking Republican Attack on the Environment and Our Drinking Water

Environment News Service / BySharon Guynup



Ensuring that Americans have clean water has been an effort with strong bipartisan support for four decades. But not anymore.

December 11, 2011 |


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WASHINGTON, DC (ENS) -- This year, residents of Midland, Texas sued Dow Chemical for dangerous levels of hexavalent chromium in their drinking water. Chromium-6 is a cancer-causing chemical made infamous by Julia Roberts' film, "Erin Brockovich." There are currently no drinking water standards for chromium-6, and the chemical industry is delaying a new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency assessment labeling it a potent carcinogen.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tom Rosenbauer's 7 Top Winter Fly-Fishing Tips


Posted: 14 Dec 2011 01:33 PM PST

Landing a Trout on Armstrong's Spring Creek on a Snowy Day

Trout will bite even on snowy, frigid days, if you know what fly patterns to throw.

photo by Paul Schullery

'Tis the season for winter fly-fishing. Here are seven tips to get you started, as well as my favorite fly patterns:

1. Pick the right place. Best winter rivers are Colorado tailwaters like the South Platte, Yampa, Frying Pan, or Gunnison; Montana tailwaters like the Bighorn and Madison; Wyoming rivers like the Snake River in Jackson; Idaho tailwaters like the South Fork and Henry’s Fork of the Snake; the Provo and Green in Utah, Great Lakes tributaries, and the upper Sacramento in California. As you can see, a fishing trip can often be combined with a ski trip.

2. Slow and deep is best. Use a strike indicator and weighted fly, or weight on the leader and the high-stick method, which keeps most of your fly line off the water. Dead drift is critical in winter because trout won’t chase a fly in cold water. 

3. Swing with a sinking-tip line. Although dead-drift nymphing is best, if you prefer to swing a fly for trout or steelhead, use a sinking tip line with a very strong mend at the beginning of the cast so your fly swings slow and deep.

4. Look for rises. Occasionally trout will rise during the winter, almost always to small midges or olive mayflies. A small midge emerger or a tiny olive mayfly emerger will be the only dries you’ll need to carry.

5. Stay in bed in the morning. You’ll see the most surface activity mid-afternoon on sunny days, or, surprisingly, all day long on gray snowy days without wind.

6. Light tippets are usually more productive in winter. The flies are small and water is clear. I use 6X Mirage for trout fishing and 4X Mirage for steelhead under most conditions.

7. Know where the fish hold. Fish tend to “pod up” in winter in deeper, slower water. Once you catch one try not to disturb the water and continue to fish in the same place. Fish the slow water thoroughly, but move often if you aren’t connecting.

Best Flies for Winter Fishing


English Pheasant Tail Nymph sizes 18 and 20. This version is far more effective than the bulkier American version for imitating the slim Blue-Winged-Olive mayflies and small brown stoneflies common in winter.

Disco Midge sizes 20 and 22. Imitates tiny midge pupae that hatch all winter long, particularly in western tailwaters. You can fish this one in the surface film for risers, but it's usually more effective deep, with Sink Putty on the leader (as are all of the nymphs listed here)

Flashback Scud size 16. In spring creeks and tailwaters that hold tiny freshwater crustaceans called scuds, this fly is essential.

Micro Stone size 14. Small stoneflies often hatch during the winter, so the nymphs are active in cold waters.

Vernille San Juan Worm . This fly in both red and tan imitates aquatic worms that get washed from the streambed when water rises slightly during dam releases on tailwaters.


ICSI (I Can See It) Midge . Gray, size22. A floating midge pupa pattern you can spot on the water because of its orange parachute post.

Griffith's Gnat  size 20. Great when adult midges skitter across the surface, especially when they form clumps. 

Cannon's Bunny Dun , Baetis. Sizes 18 and 20. My favorite imitation out of many for winter Blue-Winged-Olive hatches.


Bead Head Flash Zonker . White, size 8. This fly has become one of the favorite streamers of the fly fishers on our staff. It's particularly effective in tailwaters, where light-colored shad and alewives get washed through turbines.

Moto's Minnow , Dark. Size 10. This small dark fly wiggles in even the slightest breath of current, important when you are fishing nearly dead-drift in winter. Its coloration is a perfect imitation of the sculpin, a small baitfish common in freestone streams.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Trout Unlimited’s New Stocking Policy


A controversy with no simple answer

First published in The daily Gazette, Schenectady, N.Y., 11/3/11

Trout Unlimited really got people talking last month when it announced that its members may not take part in stocking “non-native, hatchery trout” in streams that already hold native trout.

The directive isn’t expected to curtail stocking, which is mostly conducted by state conservation departments. But it has stirred up a lively philosophical discussion about the merits and perils of adding catchable trout to our streams.

Many — maybe most — New York streams that have been stocked for generations also hold at least a few native trout, meaning trout that were not only born in the stream, but are in fact descendants of the trout that were here before people were here. If the presence of any native trout at all made an entire stream off-limits to stocking, an awful lot of New York trout fishing would simply disappear.

“Does one stop stocking brown trout in Willowemoc Creek, for example?” asked Phil Hulbert, chief of the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Bureau of Fisheries, referring to the storied Catskills stream that holds wild and holdover browns and brookies, no doubt including some natives.

“I’m confident there would be people that have opinions both ways. The way we try to deal with this is in a technical sense, not phil­osophical. When we decide whether a stream should be stocked, we take into account the abundance of wild trout and we make adjustments for the presence of wild trout, in terms of whether there’s unused carrying capacity for hatchery trout.”

If there are enough wild fish, the DEC doesn’t bother stocking at all, Hulbert noted.

Mike Walchko, president of the Clearwater Chapter of TU in Albany, said the chapter doesn’t take part in any stocking activity, preferring to focus on maintaining and improving trout habitat. He agreed with Hulbert that the issue of where to stock and where not to is complex.

“Since streams are continuous bodies, most brook trout populations are found in the upper, colder, cleaner headwater reaches, while the lower stretches are the sections stocked with hatchery fish,” he said. “Many streams are dependent upon these stockings to support a fishable population in these lower stretches.”

Larry Harris, head of TU’s national leadership council, wrote this week to chapter presidents that he was taken aback by the controversy arising from the new policy. After all, TU has been on record for years that stocking should be avoided if it was likely to harm native trout populations.

“I began receiving calls the very next morning after the resolution was sent to council chairs and chapter presidents,” Harris said. “What I am learning is that some chapters in several states currently stock hatchery trout in streams containing native trout.”

And so Harris and a number of TU leaders from around the country are forming a committee to help state councils and local chapters comply with the policy in a way that makes sense on their local waters.

I’ve complained in this space, and others have complained in other spaces, that some New York waters are stocked with way too many cookie-cutter trout with barely any survival instincts. But I also fish some streams where all the trout are wild, others where most are wild, and still others where there’s a pleasing mix of wild trout and holdover stockies. One of my regular spots even has a few genuine, certified, heritage-strain brookies, their DNA untainted by interlopers from California or Germany. None of these are secret or remote. Even after a century of heavy stocking, New York still offers plenty of “natural” trout fishing.

But TU’s heart is in the right place.

Native trout can never be replaced, and anything that will protect the ones we have is a good idea.

Morgan Lyle’s commentary appears regularly in The Daily Gazette. Reach him

The Twin Tiers FFF (Fly Fishing Federation) will be hosting Katy Dunlap, Eastern Project Director of Trout Unlimited for a presentation entitled “Protecting Sportsmen’s Interests from the Impacts of Marcellus Shale Development”.

The Twin Tiers FFF (Fly Fishing Federation) will be hosting Katy Dunlap, Eastern Project Director of Trout Unlimited for a presentation entitled “Protecting Sportsmen’s Interests from the Impacts of Marcellus Shale Development”.  The presentation is being co-sponsored by the Leon Chandler TU chapter and will be held on December 5, from 7 to 9 pm at the Big Flats Community Center.
Continue reading on Southern tier fly fishing: Dec. 5 - 11 - Binghamton fly fishing |

Outdoorsy books: Montana titles appeal to a variety of readers

Outdoorsy books: Montana titles appeal to a variety of readers
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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Brook Trout, Acid Rain, and Some Good News


Posted: 02 Dec 2011 11:08 AM PST


A recent study showed that the number of Virginia streams that could support brook trout has increased over the past decade.

photo by Simon Chu

When it comes to brook trout, any good news is welcome news. The brook trout is the state fish here in Virginia, and anglers in my neck of the woods have a deep and abiding reverence for Salvelinus fontinalis. But it is not just the sport that sends many of us into the high mountain streams or up some obscure blue line on a map.

Since 1987, the University of Virginia, Trout Unlimited, and a number of state and federal agencies have been tracking water quality and related ecological conditions in Virginia’s native trout streams. The key concern at the time of the initial survey was the impact of acid rain on the mountain headwater streams that supported reproducing brook trout.

The Virginia Trout Stream Sensitivity Study, as it is known, has conducted three surveys—the first in 1987, a second in 2000, and the most recent one was completed in 2010. In each survey, volunteers gave up some prime fishing time to spend a day collecting samples from the streams they treasure.

In 2010, 165 volunteers, mostly TU members, sampled 384 streams in addition to 66 streams that are also sampled on a quarterly basis. The survey covers nearly 80 percent of the mountain streams with reproducing brook trout.

Results of the 2010 survey are encouraging, showing that water quality has clearly improved since the last survey in 2000.


The above map shows the locations of 458 sampling sites on brook trout streams that
were sampled during the VTSSS 2010 decadal survey. The sites include 73 sites that
are sampled routinely, either quarterly or weekly, and 385 regional survey sites.

Map courtesy VTSSSe

Janet Miller, a grad student at U.Va. did the analysis that showed that 77 percent of the streams sampled were suitable for brook-trout reproduction. In 2000 only 56 percent of those streams were suitable for reproduction.

"This is good news and real evidence for the value of our national investment in improving air quality," said Rick Webb, a U.Va. environmental scientist and coordinator of the VTSSS. "At the same time, there is more to be done, and many Virginia brook trout streams may never fully recover."

Webb points to the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 as an example of that investment in air quality improvement. Sulfur dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants dropped by 64 percent between 1990 and 2009.

Having participated in the 2000 survey, I know first-hand the logistic requirements needed to pull these surveys off. The fact is without folks willing to forego some fishing time and dedicate some sweat to science this information and the good news it brings might still be unknown.

"It's a cause for hope that so many people share a determination to protect and preserve our brook trout streams and the natural world they represent," said Webb. "The remarkable volunteer contribution to the trout stream surveys over more than two decades is a real testament to this determination."

Plans are in the works to fund these survey’s on a long term basis. TU and U.Va. are working to raise funds for an endowment to support graduate-level research.

Tom Sadler is a conservation consultant and advocate, fly fisherman, outdoor writer, and American Fly Fishing Trade Association board member. He runs the Middle River Group, LLC and blogs at Dispatches from the Middle River

Friday, December 2, 2011

Recreational Sporting Season Reminders


Upcoming Seasons

The reminders listed below include open and final recreational season dates occurring over the next two weeks only (December 2 through December 16). For all season dates and to view more information about hunting and fishing in New York, visit DEC's Outdoor Activities( webpage.

Saltwater Fishing(

December 15 marks the final day for striped bass fishing in the marine and coastal district waters (waters south of the Tappan Zee Bridge).

Deer & Bear Hunting(

(view the deer and bear season maps( to identify open hunting zones)

In the Northern Zone:

· December 4 marks the final day for the deer and bear regular hunting season.

· December 5 through December 11 marks the open season for deer muzzleloader hunting in the following Wildlife Management Units( only: 5A, 5G, 5J, 6A, 6C, 6H, 6G.

In the Southern Zone:

· December 11 marks the final day for regular firearm deer and bear hunting. The regular bowhunting season for Westchester County remains open through December 31.

· December 12 through December 20 marks the open season for deer and bear bowhunting and muzzleloader hunting. For the deer muzzleloader season, the following Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) will not be open: 1C, 3S, 4J, and 8C.


Waterfowl Hunting(

(view the following maps to identify waterfowl hunting zones ( and Canada goose hunting areas( that are described below)

For Canada Goose:

· December 3 marks the final day for hunting in the Lake Champlain Goose Hunting Area for the 2011 season.

· December 5 marks the final day for hunting in the Northeast Goose Hunting Area for the season.

· December 5 to January 29 marks the open season for hunting in the Eastern Long Island Goose Hunting Area.

· December 11 marks the final day of the first split season in the South Goose Hunting Area. The season will re-open on December 26.

· December 12 marks the final day for hunting in the East Central Goose Hunting Area for the 2011 season.

For Duck, Coot, Merganser:

· December 5 marks the final day of the first split season for hunting in the Western Waterfowl Zone. The second split season will reopen on December 26.

· December 5 to January 29 marks the open season in the Long Island Waterfowl Zone.

· December 10 marks the final day for hunting in the Northeast Waterfowl Zone for the 2011 season.

For Snow Goose:

· December 10 marks the final day of the first split season for hunting in the Western Waterfowl Zone. The season will reopen on December 26.

For Brant:

· December 15 to January 29 marks the open season of the last split season for hunting in the Long Island Waterfowl Zone.

Furbearer Trapping(

· December 10 marks the final day for fisher and marten trapping( in all open areas of the state, and also marks the final day for bobcat trapping( in northern areas of the State.

· On December 10, body-gripping traps used on land may no longer be set with lure or bait for all raccoon, fox, skunk, coyote, opossum, and weasel trapping( in northern areas of the State. The season remains open through February 15.

· December 15 to February 25 marks the open season for mink and muskrat trapping( for Long Island.

Small Game( and Furbearer( Hunting

· December 10 marks the final day for bobcat hunting( in Wildlife Management Unit 6N( only.

· December 12 to February 29 marks the open season for varying hare hunting( in southeastern areas of the state.

Your Observations Can Help the Health of the Great Lakes!

Get Involved!

Your Observations Can Help the Health of the Great Lakes!

If you spend time around the Great Lakes shoreline, please consider sharing your observations of injured or dead animals, or algal blooms by using the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative - Wildlife Health Event Reporter ( (GLRI-WHER). Scientists working in state, federal and non-profit agencies are looking for your help to identify events that are important in research of avian botulism and algal bloom outbreaks, in the interest of protecting wildlife from this disease as well as algal neurotoxins. For a healthy Great Lakes ecosystem, do your part and share what you see by setting up a reporter account ( on the GLRI-WHER website. E-mail any questions regarding reporting to For more details on avian (type E) botulism (, visit the DEC website.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Video: Why Striped Bass Should Have "Game Fish Status"


Posted: 30 Nov 2011 12:57 PM PST

Striped Bass Gamefish from Taylor Vavra on Vimeo.

If you've found it difficult to make sense of all the arguments for giving the Atlantic striped bass "game fish status"——this film from Stripers Forever lays it all out for you. Some of the luminaries of saltwater fishing, from Lou Tabory to Rip Cunningham, weigh in on why this is an important fight for anglers. After you've watched the video, visit Stripers Forever online for more information and for tips on how you can help.

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