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New Fly Fishing Product Showcase Winners Announced

leah kirk

Patagonia, Foot Tractor Wading Boots.png

Posted on July 13, 2018, by Marshall Cutchin

IFTD 2018 New Product Showcase Awards


Men’s – Wading Boots

Patagonia, Foot Tractor Wading Boots (Best of Show)


Accessories – Under $100

Fishpond, Westbank Wader Belt


Accessories – Over $100

Riversmith, River Quiver


Gift Items – Under $100

DeYoung Studio, Wine Glass & Coaster Set


Youth Product – Gear/Apparel

Simms Fishing Products, Kid’s Tributary Wader



Anglers Book Supply, DOWN BY THE RIVER


Fly Box/Storage System – Gear

Tacky Fly Fishing, Flydrophobic SD Fly Box


Fly Hooks – Gear

Umpqua Feather Merchants, Specialty, S415 BN5X Hooks


Fly Tying Vices and Tying Tools – Gear

Umpqua Feather Merchants, TMC Ceramic Bobbin Fine


Fly Tying Materials

Gear, Cascade Crest Tools, Mangums “Mini “Dragon Tai


Eco Friendly – Gear

Fishpond, Thunderhead Chest Pack


Luggage (Bags, Backpacks) – Gear

Fishpond, Thunderhead Roll Top


Chest-Pack/Vest – Gear

Fishpond, Switchpack Belt System


Boat/Personal WaterCraft – Gear

East Cape Skiffs, SKANU


Fly Line – Freshwater

RIO, InTouch Big Nasty 4D


Fly Line – Saltwater

RIO, DirectCore Bonefish Line


Leader/Tippet – Gear

RIO, Trout Leader Selection


Fly Pattern – Freshwater

Fulling Mill LLC, Mousey McMouseface


Fly Pattern – Saltwater

Umpqua Feather Merchants, Aphlexo Crab, Gerbec’s


Fly Rod – Freshwater

R.L. Winston Rod Company/Bauer Fly Reels, Winston PURE fly rods


Fly Rod – Saltwater

Thomas and Thomas, Zone 9′ 9wt, 4pc


Fly Rod – 2 Handed/Spey

Temple Fork Outfitters, Axiom II Switch


Reel – Freshwater

Abel Reels, Abel TR Reel


Reel – Saltwater

Ross Reels, Ross Evolution LTX Reel


Men’s – Waders

Simms Fishing Products, G3 Guide™ Wader River Cam


Men’s – Outerwear

Howler Brothers, Aguacero Rain Jacket


Men’s –General Apparel

Simms Fishing Products, TriComp Cool


Men’s – Wading Boots

Simms Fishing Products, Flyweight Boot


Women’s – Waders

Simms Fishing Products, Women’s Freestone® Wader


Women’s – Outerwear

Patagonia, Women’s Minimalist Jacket


Women’s – General Apparel

Patagonia, Women’s Tropic Comfort Hoody



White River Bonneville Cutthroat Population Grows

leah kirk

The group headed by the North Arkansas Federation of Flyfishers recently planting of approximately fifty thousand Bonneville cutthroat trout eggs in both the White River and Norfork tailwaters in June. The Arkansas Game and Fish, White River Chapter Trout Unlimited, Friends of the North Fork and White Rivers, Cross Trail Outfitters and other groups joined to plant the eggs near Rim Shoals on the White River and above Ackerman access on the Norfork tailwaters.

The eggs were flown from a hatchery in Wyoming to the Norfork National Trout Hatchery where they are placed in small plastic boxes known as “Whitlock-Vibert boxes”. Each box contains 500 to 600 fertilized eggs. The boxes provide protection for the eggs and fry until they can work their way through the slits in the boxes into the surrounding gravel and out into the flowing water. The boxes also allow for water to flow over the eggs which provides needed oxygen.

The Vibert boxes are placed in wire mesh boxes filled with gravel which are placed in artificial redds dug into the river gravel. After the wire boxes are placed in the artificial redds, they are covered with gravel to protect them from the river current. The incubation period for the eggs is 24 to 25 days. The egg planting program was begun about 7 years ago and there have been numerous catches reported of Bonneville Cutthroat in the Norfork tailwaters with lengths exceeding 18 inches.

North Carolina’s Suicide Falls

leah kirk

North Carolina’s Suicide Falls.jpg

In the past 25 years, the Forest Service estimates there have been nearly 50 waterfall related deaths, which includes 37 fatalities on 44 waterfalls assessed between 1993 and 2013. In addition, the following are the number of waterfall-related deaths for the past three years:


Jan. 9. Dry Falls, Nantahala Ranger District of Nantahala National Forest

July 16. Elk River Falls, Appalachian Ranger District, Pisgah National Forest.

July 21. Rainbow Falls, Pisgah Ranger District, Pisgah National Forest/Gorges State Park.

Nov 22. Moore Cove Falls, Pisgah Ranger District on U.S. 276 near Brevard.

for the past three years:


June 24. Catawba Falls, McDowell County area of Pisgah National Forest.

Aug. 23. Moore Cove Falls, Pisgah Ranger District.

Feb. 18: South Mountains State Park, Burke County.


Feb 26. Catawba Falls, McDowell County in Pisgah National Forest.

May 20. Elk River Falls, Avery County in Pisgah National Forest.

June 2. Upper Creek Falls, Grandfather Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest.

June 23. Rainbow Falls, Transylvania County area of Pisgah National Forest.

The most fatalities – 13 - have occurred at Whitewater Falls, which is near Cashiers in Transylvania County. At more than 400 feet high, it’s considered one of the two highest waterfalls in the Eastern United States, said Nantahala District Ranger, Mike Wilkins.

There have also been seven fatalities on the Horsepasture River, which includes Drift, Rainbow, Stairway, and Turtleback Falls, and six fatalities on Elk River Falls over the last 10 years. Other waterfalls have had only one or two fatalities. Most accidents at Whitewater Falls happen in summer when people are tempted by low water levels to wade across the river, walking past warning signs that scream “Danger!”

The Nantahala and Pisgah national forests have got a lot of waterfalls. Most of them will kill you if you get up on top at low water. They’re inviting at 3, 4, 5, 6 inches deep, you think you’re OK. But those rocks are so slick, there’s no way to catch yourself. The water just slides you over, and then it’s over. In the mid-1990s the Forest Service built an observation deck to allow people a great view without having to get to close and charge $2 per car for daily use. But it doesn’t seem to have deterred people from getting into the falls.


Todd Dillard, emergency management director for Jackson County, has responded to many calls at Whitewater Falls, which he said can take many long, dangerous hours for rescuers, and involve multiple agencies. He said the death toll and a number of rescues was so high in the 1980s that local fire departments built a concrete and metal rescue high line above the falls, with a cable that runs from the first lookout all the way to the bottom of the falls, to greatly speed-up the inevitable rescues.

“Most of the fatalities have occurred from people falling from the top. People want to see it and get close to it. They just can’t just stop. It’s human curiosity,” Dillard said.

They’re so slick. One slip can kill you.

West Virginia Grants Available for Land Protection

leah kirk

West Virginia Grants Available for Land Protection.jpg

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The West Virginia Outdoor Heritage Conservation Fund says it's accepting grant applications for land-protection projects with up to $1.2 million that may be awarded. According to the fund, projects can include wildlife habitats, working forests and farmlands, as well as hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation areas.

The fund has an 11-member board of trustees from the state divisions of forestry and natural resources, land trusts, outdoor recreation and sportsmen's groups, and professionals in biology, ecology, forestry and public health. Grant application forms are available online at

Kudos Kevin and Curtis

leah kirk


This September Kevin Howell and Curtis Fleming will be inducted into the Museum of Southern Appalachian Fly Fishing in the Trout Capital of Dixie, Bryson City, North Carolina. Kudos to these two outstanding representatives of fly fishing in the southern highlands. In 2017 and 2018 Fleming and Howell were inducted into the Southern Trout “Legends of the Fly” Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Georgia.

Fleming, inducted this go around in the Museum’s Recreation category for his varied contributions to fly fishing as a fly fishing volunteer, fly fishing educator. Fly fishing guide, and “Reality Fly Fishing” TV celebrity. A West Virginia fly fisherman, Fleming is the host for more than fifteen seasons of the globally televised Fly Rod Chronicles.

Kevin Howell, inducted this in the Crafts category as a professional fly tier who is widely recognized for the creativity and wisdom in designing the famed Hot Creek Special, Trip Maker, Trip Saver as well as other noted creations. Kevin is the owner of Davidson River Outfitters and continues the family legacy of his father Don R. Howell and uncle Dwight Howell.

Third Annual Museum Hall of Fame Induction Luncheon will be held at The Old Almond School Gym on  September 8th. An 11:30 AM Meet and Greet, Lunch at Noon, Inductions at 1 PM. Call 828-488-3681 to reserve your place. The ticket price of $35 per person includes

Breaking News: ‘Bout Damned Time!!

leah kirk

It’s a day many didn’t think they’d ever live to see, but last Saturday, Swain County, North Carolina leaders were presented a check for $35.2 million for the North Shore Road settlement, ending a 70-year-old battle with the federal government and the National Park Service. Ironically, much embattled U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is the guy on the white horse who saw to it that the feds finally made good on the Road to Nowhere debacle.

Zinke along with U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-NC, U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-Asheville, State Sen. Jim Davis, R-Franklin, and state Reps. Kevin Corbin, R-Franklin, and Mike Clampitt, R-Bryson City, made the trip to Bryson City to present the check at the Swain County Heritage Museum.

Until now the North Shore Road issue has been a hot-button item for the community that for decades its commissioners tried to get the federal government to live up to its first agreement with Swain County, which was to rebuild the road that was flooded during World War II in order to build Fontana Dam.

Failure to rebuild the Road to Nowhere that halted at Noland Creek led to a lot of resentment from Swain County residents as they have not been able to access their family homesteads and cemeteries that their ancestors were forced to abandon for the war effort. Many residents wanted the commissioners to hold out for the road to be rebuilt as promised, but most knew that the cost-prohibitive and environmentally controversial project just was not going to happen.

Swain County and the U.S. Department of Interior finalized another agreement in 2010 that would provide $52 million cash settlement to the county to be paid out in annual installments until 2020. While the county received its first installment of $12.8 million in 2010, it didn’t see another dime of the money until last year.

The money got caught up in Washington, D.C., every year — either it wouldn’t get budgeted at all or it would get budgeted to the National Park Service but wouldn’t get released to the county (imagine that??).

It’s an issue every Western North Carolina congressman has worked on in the last several decades, starting with the conservative hero of mine, Jesse Helms. In the more recent years, the group included former Congressman Heath Shuler (former quarterback for the University of Tennessee and a Bryson City native) who was also present Saturday. When Shuler left office, Rep. Meadows carried the torch.

“This was the last thing Heath Shuler worked on when he left office and it was the first thing I did when I was elected,” Meadows said. “We testified before Congress from different parties to support an issue that should have been done a long time ago.”

It wasn’t until Zinke was appointed to Secretary of the Interior under the Trump Administration that the issue started to once again get traction in Washington. Zinke has been demonized by many in the fly fishing community, much the same as was James Watt, Secretary for the Interior under President Reagan. Press treatment of both officials is shameful.

Swain County commissioners had already put pressure on the federal government to pay out the settlement by the 2020 deadline by filing a lawsuit against the Department of Interior back in April 2016. The county spent about $100,000 in litigation costs only for the breach of contract lawsuit to be dismissed in May 2017, but it did seem to get the ball rolling again.

In September 2017, Swain County received a $4 million payment and in February 2018, President Trump had included the remaining settlement funds in his budget proposal. Even then, officials and residents were hesitant to believe the funds would make it into the final budget.

“What an emotional moment for us here in Swain County,” Mike Clampitt said. “It’s been a long and arduous road to get here today.”

Clampitt choked up as he started to talk about former Swain County Commissioner David Monteith, who was an adamant proponent of getting the road rebuilt and later fought tooth and nail to get the government to pay out the settlement funds. It was Monteith’s number one priority during his 20 years in office, but he passed away in March 2017 before being able to see the conclusion of his hard work.

“David was a road builder believer, I know he’s smiling on us today and blessed us with this good weather,” Clampitt said.

Zinke assured the crowd gathered at the museum that they were being well-represented in Washington, D.C., by their congressmen and President Trump. Originally from Whitefish, Montana, he said he understood the frustration people in rural America were feeling.

“There’s a lot of anger about the government not following through,” Zinke said. “But this is our government. The government only exists if our people trust we’re going to do the right thing.”

With the North Shore Road settlement behind them, Zinke said Swain County can now focus on the future and other important goals — perhaps a new campground at the end of the infamous Road to Nowhere.

Smokies Elkmont Flooded

leah kirk

Smokies Elkmont Flooded.png

Heavy rains and rising rivers prompted the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to evacuate campers at Elkmont Campground last week, beginning the process around 9 a.m. Thursday, June 28, and reopening the area a few hours later.

The campground was one of several areas to close June 28 after heavy rains at high elevations throughout the park, including 2.54 inches recorded at Clingmans Dome. In a six-hour period, Little River rose about 6 feet above normal levels at Townsend Wye.

While Elkmont, Little River Road, Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area, Upper Tremont Road and Wear Cove Gap Road all reopened about two hours after they were closed, Little River Road from Metcalf Bottoms Picnic area to Townsend Wye remained closed due to downed trees and rocks.   


Red Wolf Proposal Draws Criticism

leah kirk

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A long-awaited proposal for future management of the imperiled red wolf population was released last week, drawing fire from environmental groups that have been engaged in the issue.

Under the proposal, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would no longer seek to manage red wolf populations living on private lands and instead focus its efforts on certain public lands in Hyde and Dare counties. Outside of those public lands, there would be no hunting restrictions on red wolves — hunters and landowners could kill them with no repercussions.

“By restricting management to Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and the Dare County Bombing Range, we will ensure we can better reduce external threats and monitor the environments surrounding these wild wolves,” said Greg Sheehan, the principal deputy director of the Fish and Wildlife Service. “A recent Species Status Assessment informed us that past strategies were not effectively leading to recovery, so we believe that a concerted effort in a managed area will help.”

Environmental groups, meanwhile, say that the Fish and Wildlife Service effectively sabotaged recovery of the red wolf and that the current plan will only hasten the species’ demise.

“This plan is a death sentence for red wolves in the wild. Restricting wolves to a fraction of the former recovery area and taking away their protection from being shot and killed everywhere else will certainly lead to their extinction in the wild,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, president, and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife. “Any revision of the regulation for red wolf management must prioritize recovery, not cater to those who would rather see red wolves disappear from North Carolina.”

Currently, a five-county area in Eastern North Carolina contains the world’s only population of wild red wolves, down from a peak of 150 individuals 10 years ago to about 35 today.

The proposal is the result of a process that began in September 2016, when the USFWS announced that red wolves would be removed from the majority of the five-county area of eastern North Carolina where they’d been reintroduced. The move followed nearly two years of evaluating the feasibility of reintroduction efforts, and a lawsuit in which environmental groups claimed the USFWS was not doing enough to protect the wolves. The reintroduction was once attempted in the Smokies but failed.

The true irony is that the red wolf is only slightly more myth that the Big Bad Wolf of the Red Riding Hood story. More scientist than believe there is a red wolf than do not. The fact of the matter is the red wolf is a line coyote and gray wolves.


leah kirk


 Richmond, VA – The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) would like to once again advise recreational boaters to use extreme caution this upcoming weekend and into the summer as heat and unstable weather systems are leading to flash flooding in many areas.

DGIF Conservation Police Officers (CPOs) have responded to and worked several boating incidents that have resulted in fatalities and injuries to boaters who have attempted to navigate waters that were affected by heavy rains. Navigating rivers in these conditions can be hazardous due to significantly higher than normal water levels and trash and other debris that could be floating on the surface or just below the waterline.

"Disregarding safety messages and attempting to boat on rising or flooded waters not only puts the boaters at risk but also our CPOs and other first responders that are called to rescue them," said Major Scott Naff with DGIF's Conservation Police. Major Naff also urges the boating public to heed safety warnings and check conditions before they attempt to launch.

Over the past several weeks, many areas of Virginia have received significant amounts of rainfall. Not only is the ground saturated but some rivers are at treacherously high levels and are susceptible to fast level changes which can be very dangerous.

If you are a canoer, kayaker or other recreational boater and chose to launch on any river, DGIF makes the following recommendations:

·        We strongly urge you to think before you go. Always check local river conditions. A resource for this is the American Whitewater website:

·        Check your local forecast. Pop-up storms can cause flash flooding and water levels can change drastically and quickly.

·        Be aware that it is possible that high water will force the temporary closing of some boat ramps.

·        Have a good plan and share your plan with someone who knows where you will be and when to expect you to return.

·        Finally, make sure you have the proper equipment onboard and that you wear a properly sized and fitted life jacket. Remember that life jackets do save lives!

DGIF is the boating agency for the Commonwealth and strives to ensure the safety of all who venture out to enjoy time on Virginia's waterways. DGIF recommends that all boaters and paddlers take a boating safety course, whether they are required to or not by law.

Information on taking a boating safety course can be found here:

WV Seeks Public Comment on Procedural Rules

leah kirk

SOUTH CHARLESTON, West Virginia — The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources is seeking public comments on proposed and modified procedural rules.

The first rule involves designating a new section of the New River where rental services are allowed. It also introduces safety qualifications for general outfitters and guides that operate and provide services in whitewater zones and increases the minimum threshold for required reporting of accidents. The rule, 58CSR12, is available here.

The second rule involves boating. Modifications include defining terms, changing language about personal flotation devices to be consistent with federal code, defining watersports, establishing personal flotation device requirements for tubing activities, updating address information for submission of accident reports, increasing the minimum threshold for required reporting of accidents, language updates to replace “Conservation Officer” with “Natural Resources Police Officer,” changes to restrict the display of flashing blue lights to authorized emergency law enforcement vessels, and reducing duplicate language already established in code. The rule, 58CSR25, is available here.

The third rule is new and involves regulating a two-year pilot project permitting ATV’s and ORV’s on designated roads and trails in Cabwaylingo State Forest. The rule, 58CSR36, was authorized by the passage of SB 498 during the 2018 regular legislative session. It may be found here.

The rules have been filed with the Secretary of State’s office and will be open for review and written a comment until 5 p.m. on July 26. They will be advertised in the State Register and are available for review at the DNR South Charleston and Elkins offices. Written comments are accepted at or may be mailed to WV Division of Natural Resources, Attn: Wendy Greene, 324 4th Avenue, Room 343, South Charleston, WV  25303.

OK’s Blue River Offers Winter Trout Fishing

leah kirk

The Blue River is its most scenic along the 6¼-mile stretch through the Blue River Public Fishing and Hunting Area, where it transforms from a sluggish, meandering river into cascading water which forks through granite and limestone formations. It is the jewel of south-central Oklahoma.

"It really looks like it was picked up out of Colorado and moved to south-central Oklahoma," said Matt Gamble, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's fisheries biologist on Blue River for the past 12 years.

"Most people wouldn't recognize it as a south-central Oklahoma river."

Most steams in south-central Oklahoma are very shallow and turbid, whereas the Blue River is very scenic and primitive with pristine, clear water and lots of changes in elevation.

The source of the spring-fed Blue River is the underground Arbuckle-Simpson aquifer. It flows freely from its headwaters southwest of Ada all the way into the Red River around Bokchito in Bryan County.

The river is most scenic along the 6¼-mile stretch through the Blue River Public Hunting and Fishing Area about 10 miles northeast of Tishomingo in Johnston County.

Here, the granite rocks of the Arbuckle outcrop surface and the river is energized.

Along these six miles, the river transforms from a sluggish, meandering stream to cascading water that forks through granite and limestone formations.

Over and around these rocks is the creation of horseshoe waterfalls and deep, slow-moving pools and fast-moving riffles. The river channel often becomes braided, forming smaller streams with interspersed islands covered with unique seaside alders and native hardwoods.

The Blue River is a very popular fishing destination in the winter as the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation stocks trout in the stream from November through March. Gamble said between 4,000 and 6,000 people visit the Blue River each month during the winter trout season. Most of the trout anglers are from North Texas, south-central Oklahoma, and the Oklahoma City area, he said.

Anglers will catch trout into June on Blue River, but the water in the stream gets too warm in the summer for the hatchery-raised rainbows to live.

However, Blue River is not just a winter fishing destination.

"Summer opportunities are overlooked a lot of the times," Gamble said. "I love smallmouth bass fishing. I would put it up against any river or stream in the state as far as smallmouth go.

"You catch a lot of spotted bass, also. It's not uncommon on a good day to catch 80 or a 100 fish in a few hours."

The Wildlife Department also puts 11,000 channel catfish in the river between April through September, and there are a few flathead catfish in the stream as well

Breaking News: KY’s Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery Events

leah kirk

If you have dabbled with fly-fishing or have always wanted to learn more about it, the Fly Fishing Conclave at Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery is for you.  Join experts in the field of fly-fishing on August 10 and 11, 2018 to learn the basics of gear, rigging, casting, entomology, reading the water, nymphing, fly tying and much more.  We will also have special sessions on the Cumberland River flows, Lake Cumberland/Hatchery history and Tenkara.  The cost is $45 for the two-day series that includes lunch on Saturday, a swag bag of goodies and a chance at some great door prizes.  Checks should be made out to Friends of Wolf Creek NFH Inc.  Please bring your own gear if you have it, some gear will be available.  Space is limited, pre-register by August 1, 2018, to save your spot.

On September 11, 2018, from 6 a.m. – 3 p.m. CST we bring you our 7th Annual Wounded Warriors Fishing Event.  This free event is open to any veteran wounded during combat and will be a day filled with fishing, food, and fun. Considered one of the finest fishing areas in the Eastern United States, wounded warriors will have the opportunity to fish Lake Cumberland, Cumberland River, and Hatchery Creek. Participants will start the day with a guided striped bass fishing tour on Lake Cumberland. Following a complimentary lunch, participants will end the day with trout fishing at Hatchery Creek or along the Cumberland River.

This fishing event was developed by Wolf Creek NFH and the Friends of Wolf Creek NFH, Inc. as an effort to promote outdoor recreational activities for wounded service members. Veterans who suffered various injuries related to their service are encouraged to participate. This includes but is not limited to amputations; post-traumatic stress disorder; traumatic brain injury; paralysis. All Kentucky Sport Fishing Regulations will apply. Lunch and fishing equipment will be provided; however, participants are encouraged to bring their own gear for trout fishing. Pre-registration will be conducted through Wolf Creek NFH. With only 25 spots available for this event, it is encouraged that interested individuals register as soon as possible to secure a position.

Wolf Creek NFH improves scientific literacy through nationally recognized formal and non-formal science and conservation education programs. For more information on other programs for youth through Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery, please contact: Moira Painter, Environmental Education/Outreach Specialist, at 270-343-3797 or via email:

For complete details and updated information visit For regular updates, photos, hatchery news and more, follow us on Facebook and on Twitter


leah kirk

missori floaat fishing.jpg

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) will offer an opportunity to float a Missouri stream and learn paddling and fishing techniques on July 14 on Missouri’s Big Piney River near Licking. Participants will learn basic kayak paddling instruction, as well as basic fishing training before embarking on a float that will last the majority of the day.

“Missouri’s beautiful Ozark streams provide a fantastic place to discover nature through kayaking and fishing,” said MDC Outdoor Skills Specialist Justin McGuire. “This program is a wonderful introduction to floating and fishing these streams.”

MDC will provide all kayaking and fishing equipment, as well as transportation to and from the river. Participants ages 13 and older are welcome, though those younger than 18 must be accompanied by an adult who also registers for the program, and participants older than 15 must be properly licensed to fish.

Participants are encouraged to wear swimming clothing or clothing that can get wet.  Also, participants should bring a towel, sun screen, bug spray, and a change of clothes for the ride home. Closed-toed shoes are required. Participants should also bring a small cooler with lunch and enough snacks and drinks for an all-day float. Alcohol and beverages in glass containers are prohibited.

Participants will meet at Runge Conservation Nature Center, 330 Commerce Drive in Jefferson City, at 7 a.m. on Saturday, July 14, and will be returning by about 8 p.m. Return time is subject to change based on river conditions, weather, and other uncontrollable factors.

Georgia Trout Update

leah kirk

gA trout.jpg

By Jeff Durniake

Welcome to the July 4th Holiday Edition, and congratulations on making it to a little time off from work.  Despite the heat, there are still a lot of good fishing opportunities across north Georgia for your holiday exploits.   On most of our streams and rivers, the flows are finally dropping, after several weeks of high water from Tropical Storm Alberto.  We finally have many more windows of opportunity on those bass rivers and even on the larger trout streams at higher elevations.  Our only challenges now are these pop-up thunderstorms that can quickly drop an inch or more of rain and create chocolate floods for a day or two before dropping back and clearing.  Watch weather radar and USGS river gauges carefully, call local tackle shops for current stream conditions, and have your nearby Plan B’s (small streams and ponds) ready in case your honey hole gets whacked by a passing storm. Although the storms are inconveniences, they sure beat extreme droughts and big forest fires, so be flexible and rejoice in the rain.

Holiday trout stockings are heavy and widespread, as 51,000 trout exit three state trout hatcheries and one federal hatchery, and enter a big bunch of north Georgia streams for your angling and dining pleasure.The lower elevation trout waters, like Panther Creek, Middle Broad River, and West Armuchee Creek, are starting to heat up with our ninety-degree days and sometimes aren’t cool enough (below 70 degrees) for a weekly stocking, let along good fishing.  Avoid them and go higher or below a real big dam to find cold water and eager trout. 

Holiday Trout Stockings: GAWRD trout stocking coordinator John Lee Thomson said that 51,000 trout will head out the gates of state and federal hatcheries this week to prepare north Georgia stream for the holiday angler onslaught.  This number beats the fairly hefty count of 39,000 trout stocked last week.  .

Best bets: Hooch Tailwater, Blue Ridge Tailwater, the mouths of small, cold feeder streams to our trout-stocked lakes, Holly, Rock, Cooper, upper Toccoa, Dicks, Boggs, Frogtown, Hooch on WMA, Soque, Tallulah, Wildcat, Holcomb, and Warwoman.  And for zero crowds, hit one of the smaller, lesser-stocked streams on the weekly list that flow on national forest land (see the interactive trout map).

Reminder – Avoid This Area! Remember to avoid this congested area of the national forest until the holiday week has passed.  You’ll have a better angling experience if you pick streams other than Nimblewill, upper Etowah, and Jones during the next week or so.

Headwaters Wild Trout: Uphill treks for these small, colorful mountain jewels are still a best bet.  Toss a small adams, elk hair caddis, or anything bushy and yellow in a size 14 or 16, and hold on!  Remember that a nine-incher is a trophy, so scale down to a 6 or 7 foot rod and light line to make it a fair fight inside the rhododendron tunnels, where cool air and water will make a wet-wader’s day enjoyable.

Idaho’ Proposal to Build Elephant Hatchery

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In the midst of the political turmoil surrounding the elephant trophy import ban, some enterprising fish biologists from Idaho introduced a solution. Citing the incredible success they’ve had running steelhead and salmon hatcheries that cost taxpayers a fortune and produce very few returning fish every year, these Idaho scientists floated the idea of building America’s first elephant hatchery in Idaho.

The leading proponent of this proposal Hugh Dumass told The Idaho Statesman that this idea is a silver bullet that solves two problems. Hugh said, “If we produce these animals right here in Idaho, then we don’t have to worry about importing trophies from Africa. Plus, the amount of conservation dollars hunting for these elephants would generate would be enormous. We could use that money to continue to prop up hatcheries and dams.”

Word quickly spread to the White House about this ingenious proposal and President Trump responded via Twitter with a big virtual thumbs up.We interrupted Secretary Zinke’s lunchtime round of Big Buck Hunter in the Department of the Interior cafeteria to get his thoughts on the proposal. He said, “This is something Teddy Roosevelt would have supported, so I’m all for it. I even know some great folks over at Whitefish Energy, who would do a great job building this facility.”

With the White House now on board with this proposal, folks in Idaho and DC are scrambling to figure out how to finance the construction and operation of this world-class elephant hatchery facility. Initially, Rob Bishop, the Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, suggested raiding the Land and Water Conservation Fund, but then he remembered that he decided not to reauthorize that “slush fund.” So now he and Secretary Zinke are working to figure out how they can sell off a suite of public lands and national monuments to fund what they are calling “America’s most critical conservation effort.”

Rain Runs Downhill

leah kirk

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How long does it take rain falling on a forest to reach a stream? What pathways does it take to get there? Humans have pondered such simple questions for millennia. Using a unique long-term data set on stream water chemistry from the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire, an international team of scientists has new answers.

Variation in the isotopic composition of water was used to determine the time that it took water to reach the stream, which varied from a median of 50 days during wet periods to 190 days during dry periods. At all times, there is a very small portion of the streamflow that is much older, as long as several years. These variations in water travel time matched changes in concentrations of substances dissolved in water, demonstrating how variations in water sources regulate water quality.

Distinct water sources detected in this study include shallow groundwater draining the soil and deeper groundwater draining geologic deposits. A mixing zone in riparian areas adjacent the stream determines how each of these sources deliver water to the stream. These results will help forest managers understand mechanistically how forests function to provide clean and reliable water supply and provide a benchmark for determining how climate change will affect this valuable resource in the future.

Pechmann Center’s July Offers

leah kirk

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (June 21, 2018) – The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center is offering four free fishing and boating workshops for people of all ages and skill levels throughout the month of July. Online registration is required for the workshops, which are open on a first-come, first-served basis.

July 7 – Basic Rod Building Course from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Open to ages 16 and older.

July 7 – Family Fishing Workshop from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Open to families with children ages seven and older. 

July 21 – Kayak Fishing Workshop from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Open to ages 14 and older. Children under 16 years old must be accompanied by an adult. 

July 26 – Fly-tying Forum from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Open to ages 10 and older. Students 15 years old and under must be accompanied by an adult.

The John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center is located at 7489 Raeford Road in Fayetteville, across from Lake Rim. Commission staff at the Pechmann Center conducts fishing workshops, events and clinics throughout the year. Most programs are free and open to the public. For more information on the Commission’s four wildlife education centers and other activities and events, visit

Maryland’s Fishing Rod Loan Program Expanded

leah kirk

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The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has partnered with libraries in four counties to enable their patrons to borrow fishing gear free of charge.

The Aquatic Resources Education Program has provided five libraries in Anne Arundel, Carroll, Frederick and Harford counties with rods and reels, tackle, and fishing books, specifically geared toward children. The following libraries are currently participating in the department program: Eastport-Annapolis Neck Community Library and Mountain Road Community Library in Anne Arundel County; Westminster Branch Library in Carroll County; Brunswick Branch Library in Frederick County; and Joppa Branch Library in Harford County. 

Breaking News: Arkansas Sinkhole Remains a Deadly Danger

leah kirk

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This Sunday, June 10, 2018 photo provided by provided by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission shows a whirlpool along the Spring River in northeastern Arkansas. Geologists say a sinkhole apparently created the whirlpool, which dragged a man to his death on June 9, 2018. Bill Prior of the Arkansas Geological Survey said it is rare to have a sinkhole open in a river bed.

A kayaker bypassed a part of an Arkansas scenic river known as Dead Man's Curve during a weekend trip, but a rare sinkhole created a whirlpool along his alternate channel and dragged him to his death. Donald Wright, 64, from Searcy, Arkansas, died Saturday at Saddler Falls along the Spring River, said Keith Stephens, a spokesman for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. At least one other person was injured.

Sinkholes are common in the northern half of Arkansas, where subterranean limestone erodes away easily. Small whirlpools are common where bits of land extend into waterways, but having a sinkhole open a whirlpool in the middle of a stream is uncommon.

"I've been here for 40 years. This is the first one I've ever heard forming in a river like this," said Bill Prior, a geologist supervisor at the Arkansas Geological Survey.

The Spring River was flowing normally Saturday — fed by Mammoth Spring, the second-largest spring in the Ozark Mountains. Its steady flow, at about 356 cubic feet per second (enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool every four minutes), makes it desirable for basic training on kayaks and canoes.

"Classes are often held on the Spring River because Mammoth Spring has such a reliable flow," said Jonathan Gillip, field operations chief for surface water at the U.S. Geological Survey office in Little Rock.

Dead Man's Curve has the occasional switchback, falls and pools, but isn't terribly turbulent, said Rocky McCollum, owner of Spring River Camp and Canoe. Boaters avoid it mainly to take a short cut around the switchbacks — but doing so Saturday put them on a portion of the stream where the river bed gave way.

"There are thousands of sinkholes across the northern part of the state," Gillip said. "This is an active one that people happened to see collapse, and it had a traumatic impact."

Saturday's whirlpool was both instantaneous and thousands of years in the making. The Spring River eroded harder rock above an underground cavity, and when the river bed gave way, it created a vacuum that sucked the water in a "pretty strong vortex," Prior said.

Rachel Ratliff, Rocky McCollum's daughter, rented canoes to Wright's group and said Wright was wearing a life jacket and was an experienced kayaker. "But the river is stronger than any life jacket there is," she said.

If the sinkhole system were closed, the water would drain into the cavity and eventually refill enough to kill the whirlpool. But because there's no change at the river gauge at Hardy, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) downstream, the whirlpool is likely diverting water back into the river, Gillip said.

The Spring River, 150 miles (240 kilometers) northeast of Little Rock, remains open. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission warned prospective boaters to stay away from the whirlpool, which is marked off by buoys and ropes.

Arkansas White and Norfork Rivers by Mike Tipton, NAFF

leah kirk

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The trout stretches of Arkansas’s White and Norfork Rivers are “tailwaters”. That means that the level and flow rate of the rivers depends upon the water releases of the upstream dams. In this local case, these are the Bull Shoals and Norfork Dams. The amount of water released by a dam is dependent upon a complex calculation based on electricity requirements, season, and water levels behind the dam.

This calculation rates an entire article of its own. As fisherman are usually only interested in the water level and flow today and what will they be tomorrow and the near future. There are three main sources for water level and flow information. The Army Corps of Engineers (COE) who operate the dams provides the “real-time” water flows and levels. The COE “real time” actually has a delay of about two hours.

The Southwest Power Administration (SWPA) provides the forecasts for future operations. And “rivers cams” at various resorts on the rivers. Predicting Water Levels on the White and Norfork Rivers a generation of 0 mwh. An important point to remember in the case of generation schedules is that SWPA only shows schedules for one day in advance. So, you can usually see the schedule for today and tomorrow.

On the weekends it will show the schedules for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. The schedules are pretty accurate but are not set in concrete. The schedule for a specific dam may change due to the current weather or maintenance issues at another dam. Generation schedules are updated late in the afternoon. When you look at a schedule check the date at the top center of the page.

               A third source of actual, right now, real-time water level and flow information are river cams. Newlands has a cam that shows the White River fairly close below Bull Shoals Dam. Gene’s Trout Dock has cams that show the water level and flow on the Norfork right below Quarry Park and Norfork Dam.

No matter what the schedule predicts you must always keep an eye out for water level changes. You might note the change by the change of the sound of the flowing water, noticing that a previously visible rock is no longer visible, or feeling colder water flowing against your legs. The water can come up very fast on the Norfork or below the dam on the White. If you see everyone else moving quickly to the bank, perhaps you should also!

All this information can be fairly quickly found on Google. However, an easier way is to use the right smartphone app. A smartphone app is “White River Fly Fishing” provided by Dally’s Ozark Fly Fisher. The app runs on iPad, iPhone and Android. The app gives you easy access to current COE water flow data and the current SWPA generation schedules.