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Cherokee’s Memorial Day Trout Tournament May 27–29

leah kirk

Cherokee’s Memorial Day Trout Tournament May 27–29.jpg

This year, Cherokee’s Memorial Day Trout Tournament will take place May 27–29, offering a weekend of outdoor fun and $10,000 in prizes for tagged fish caught in tribal waters. The tournament is open to all ages and all legal fishing methods. The entry fee is $11.

Participants can register at the Cherokee Welcome Center, 498 Tsali Blvd., or anywhere fishing licenses are sold. Anglers can win cash prizes ranging from $20 to $500 based on the color of the tag. The Qualla Boundary boasts 30 miles of freestone streams, and only 2.2 miles of catch-and-release waters are excluded from the Memorial Day event.

Prize redemption for tagged fish will be at the Water Beetle Stage next to the Cherokee Welcome Center. Register to redeem cash prizes anywhere fishing licenses are sold. Nearly 250,000 rainbow, brown and brook trout are released annually into Cherokee waters, which are stocked twice each week and include many trophy sizes. The river system comprises the longest privately owned and stocked waters east of the Mississippi. The tribe operates its own fish hatchery.

For further information, visit or call 828-359-6110, or contact Michael LaVoie, EBCI Fisheries and Wildlife Management, at 828-359-6113. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is a sovereign nation with more than 15,000 enrolled members and is the only federally recognized Native American tribe in North Carolina. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians makes its home on the 56,600-acre Qualla Boundary in five Western North Carolina counties about an hour west of Asheville and at the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Visitors Spend $922.9 Million in Smokies Gateways

leah kirk


A new report from the National Park Service shows that 11.3 million visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2017 spent a combined $922.9 million in communities near the park, supporting 13,900 jobs.

“We are glad to work alongside our business communities in helping create lifelong memories and traditions that bring people to our area year after year,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “While our gateway communities benefit from visitor spending, they also provide a critical role in shaping the overall impression of a visit to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.”

National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, with every dollar invested by American taxpayers in the National Park Service returning $10 to the economy. The figures come from a peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis completed by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Egan Cornachione of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service.

Numbers for the Smokies were down slightly compared to the figures for 2016, which showed 11.3 million visitors spending $942.7 million and supporting 14,700 jobs. However, they’re higher than the 2015 figures, which showed visitors spending $874 million in parkside communities. Overall in the Park Service, 330 million park visitors spent $18.2 billion in communities within 60 miles of a national park nationwide, supporting 306,000 jobs. More than 255,000 of these jobs were found in gateway communities.

An interactive tool displaying results of the analysis is online at

National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 1.46 million visitors to Shenandoah National Park in 2017 spent $95.8 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 1,204 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $126 million.

 “Shenandoah National Park welcomes visitors from across the country and around the world,” said Superintendent Jennifer Flynn. “We are delighted to share the story of this place and the experiences it provides. We also feature the park as a way to introduce our visitors to this part of the country and all that it offers. National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service, and it’s a big factor in our local economy as well. We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities.”

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service. The report shows $18.2 billion of direct spending by more than 330 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 306,000 jobs nationally; 255,900 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $35.8 billion.

The lodging sector received the highest direct contributions with $5.5 billion in economic output to local gateway economies and 49,000 jobs. The restaurant's sector received the next greatest direct contributions with $3.7 billion in economic output to local gateway economies and 60,500 jobs.

NC’s Delayed Harvest Trout Waters Open June 2

leah kirk

NC’s Delayed Harvest Trout Waters Open June 2.jpg

RALEIGH, NC — The North Carolina (NC) Wildlife Resources Commission will open 34 trout streams and two lakes classified as Delayed Harvest to trout harvest on June 2 through Sept. 30. From 6 a.m. until 11:59 a.m., Delayed Harvest waters are open only to anglers 17 years old and younger. At noon, waters open to all anglers. During this time, anglers can keep up to seven trout per day — with no bait restrictions and no minimum size limits.

Since last fall, Commission staff has stocked more than 372,000 trout in waters designated as Delayed Harvest to provide anglers with better opportunities to catch fish, according to David Deaton, the Commission’s fish production supervisor.

“We stock Delayed Harvest streams in March, April, May and then again in October and November,” Deaton said. “In early summer, when some streams become too warm for trout to survive, we open these stocked streams to allow trout harvest before stream conditions get too warm.”

Delayed Harvest trout waters are posted with diamond-shaped, black-and-white signs. The Commission established the youth-only fishing period in the morning of “opening day,” which is always the first Saturday in June, to promote trout fishing among young anglers and to provide special opportunities for young anglers to catch and keep fish.

The Commission also supports youth-only fishing opportunities during National Fishing and Boating Week 2017. From late May through mid-June, more than 40 kids’ fishing events will be held throughout the state.

Anglers ages 16 and older need an inland fishing license and a special trout fishing privilege, which is included in the comprehensive and sportsman licenses, to fish in all public mountain trout waters, including Delayed Harvest waters. Options for purchasing licenses include:

For more information on trout fishing, including a list of Delayed Harvest trout waters, regulation information and trout maps,

Volunteers Needed for Cherokee Classic on June 9

leah kirk

Cherokee Classic on June 9.jpg

The folks at Casting for Hope are enjoying the start of summer!  The start of summer means that the Casting for Hope 4th Annual Cherokee Classic is right around the corner!  The group has needs for volunteers for this event--largely as stream monitors but a few hands assisting with food distribution will be needed as well!  Can you assist?  It is June 9 in Cherokee, North Carolina, base camping at River's Edge Outfitters.  As is usually the case with CFH tournaments, some of the best anglers in the country have registered and it is a great opportunity to learn fly fishing from some of the very best!  You can learn more about the day as well as registering as a volunteer here.  With high school graduations going on the 9th, we'll be in need of all the help they can get.  All volunteers will receive breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as an official 4th Annual Cherokee Classic shirt.

They are so appreciative of your continued support of Casting for Hope and its work in western North Carolina for women and families surviving after a diagnosis of ovarian and other gynecological cancers

Their mailing address is:

Casting for Hope

P.O. Box 8118

Asheville, NC 28814

GA Delayed Harvest Season Ends

leah kirk

GA Delayed Harvest Season Ends.png

The Delayed Harvest trout fishing season ended Monday, May 14. Known by staunch supporters of this popular trout management program in the state as “slaughter week.” Tens of trout had a meeting with an iron frying pan as a result of the opening of waters under the delayed harvest program. Some waters under the program are a marginal habitat that becomes too warm to support trout during the summer, which justifies the killing date. However, some streams are perfectly capable of supporting trout through the warm weather month.

More than 31,000 trout will exit the gates of Georgia’s state and federal trout hatcheries this week.  Given the heavy rainfall, here are WRD trout stocking coordinator John Lee Thomson’s best bets for this weekend: Right below the dams of the Lanier and Blue Ridge tailwaters Tammen Park/Fannin County, Wildcat, Dicks, Boggs, Sarahs, Amicalola Park after the Saturday morning kids fishing event, Rock, Hooch on WMA, and Tallulah.

Breaking News: The Great Smoky Mountain Hoedown

leah kirk

The Southern Trout family is on the road again. This time the whistle stop is Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Next weekend is the 30th Anniversary of the Smoky Mountain Angler, one of the longest running advertisers in the magazine’s six-year run.

Harold and Chad who run the Smoky Mountain Angler had close calls in last year when forest fires left much of the tourist town in a mess. The shop only received minor damage, but Chad’s home was a total loss.

The fire is but a bitter memory. This event also marks 30 years of business, one of the longest runs of any fly shop in the southeast. While I have never seriously considered opening a fly shop, I do know it is a tough business that has wiped out business people who have far more savvy than I possess.

John Reinhardt, the Baron of Knoxville, will be on hand throughout the day handing out grilled hotdogs, chips, and cokes at a bargain price. John has revived the once defunct Smoky Mountain chapter of Trout Unlimited and has been a genuine mover and shaker advocate for trout fishing in the South. I’m not sure how he is with food, but you’ve got really be bad to mess up hotdogs.

Come on up to Gatlinburg to say hey to Harold, Chad, John, and me while we celebrate 30 years of fly flicking.

Campfire Pizza, Oh Yeah!

leah kirk


Yes, you can cook pizza on a campfire. And it’s delicious and easy. First, get a good bed of coals going in your fire ring. You don’t want to cook anything over a campfire with lots of flames; you’ll just end up charring your food without cooking it properly.

Next, get your pizza dough ready. Easy pizza dough recipes are a Google search away, or you can just buy some pre-made pizza dough from a local bakery or grocery store and bring it with you. Then, figure out how you want to cook the pizza. We recommend using a cast iron skillet or pan, but you can cook pizza directly on a fire ring grate if one is available. Many cooks recommend briefly cooking both sides of the dough before you put on the toppings. Oil the pan, pop in the dough and place the pan on the grate about eight inches above the hot coals. Flip the dough after a few minutes and cook the other side.

Now comes the fun part. Take the dough off the fire, bring the kids over and start adding your toppings. Pre-shredded cheese and canned pizza sauce are the easiest to deal with in the outdoors. Also be sure to chop your toppings into similar sized pieces so they all take about the same time to cook.

Be careful as you place toppings on the pre-cooked side, the uncooked side will be cooking in your hot cast iron. Put the pizza back on the grate or in the coals and cover it with foil so the cheese melts and the toppings cook. Be sure to vent or remove the lid about halfway through the cooking process so that the pizza doesn’t get soggy. After 10 minutes or so (or once the cheese is melted and the toppings are cooked), pull the pizza off the fire and dig in.


Book Review: Feather Thief (From Midcurrent)

leah kirk

A few years ago, before I began a Ph.D. in ornithology, I studied nomadic parakeets in Ecuador. I planned to track them with GPS devices, but I didn’t know the birds’ exact weight. Weight might seem like a trivial detail, but it’s incredibly important when you need to put a small GPS tracker on one. Existing literature didn’t help much. Luckily, I found my answer at the Ecuadorian Museum of Natural Sciences in Quito, home to two specimens of the Golden-plumed parakeet. As I turned them over in my hands and read through their specimen labels, I was surprised to learn that both were collected near my study site, in the early nineties. The female weighed 22 grams more than I expected, and the male 32 grams more. Suddenly I had more options for heavier tracking devices, opening up new possibilities for my research.

Since then, I’ve lost count of how many times, and in how many ways, museum collections have proven invaluable to me. Natural history museums are often described as “libraries of life,” and each specimen, also known as a voucher or study skin, is an indispensable piece of the biological record. The more complete the library, the more we can hope to understand and protect.

In The Feather Thief (Viking, $27), Kirk Wallace Johnson tells the true story of Edwin Rist, a man who is wholly unaware of the value of scientific collections. The book opens in 2009 with Rist, a gifted student of the Royal College of Music, robbing London’s famous Tring Natural History Museum in the dead of night. He hops a wall, breaks in through a window, and wheels a suitcase down a dark hallway to cases of historic bird specimens, some of which were collected by Darwin’s contemporary, Alfred Russel Wallace. Rist targets some of the world’s rarest and flashiest birds; the “blue chatterer” (Spangled Cotinga), “Indian crow” (Red-ruffed Fruitcrow), Resplendent Quetzal, and King Bird-of-paradise. He steals 299 precious skins that he sells to finance a new gold flute. The judge who oversaw the case called the heist a “natural history disaster of world proportions.”

To many, the crime is absurd: Why steal dead birds? The answer is that Rist has a passion greater than music; he is a world-renowned salmon fly tier, trained in the classic Victorian practice and resolute in his desire to revive the antiquated art. In Victorian days, fly-tying manuals detailed intricate “recipes” for catching salmon that called for the dazzling feathers of rare and endangered birds. But after the Victorian feather craze died down and stricter laws passed, including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Endangered Species Act, rare feathers became increasingly hard to procure. Yet, in the underground world of fly-tying, the art lives on. Zealous fly tiers and obsessed hobbyists go to incredible lengths—searching online fly-tying forums, scouring eBay, paying exorbitant amounts—to obtain the iridescent and brightly colored feathers of exotic birds.

Rist once wrote in an article for legendary bookmaker Ronn Lucas’s website, “Fly-tying is not merely a hobby, it is an obsession we seem to devote a substantial part of our time to…, examining feather structure, designing flies, and coming up with new techniques for getting exactly what we want out of a fly.”

Wallace Johnson gives a detailed and accessible overview of the many worlds that collide in Rist’s theft: he describes Victorian “feather fever,” the quirky history of fly-tying and fly tiers, early British ornithological collections, and Alfred Russel Wallace’s invaluable contributions to science through his journeys to South America and the Malay Archipelago. Understanding the lengths that early explorers went to obtain each specimen makes the theft feel even more visceral: Alfred Russel Wallace endured food rationing, swollen ankles, and disease to acquire each specimen. He once defended his painstaking efforts, describing each species as “the individual letters which go to make up one of the volumes of our earth’s history; and, as a few lost letters make a sentence unintelligible, so the extinction of numerous forms of life which the progress of cultivation invariably entails will necessarily render obscure this valuable record of the past.”


After Rist’s successful heist, he brings the stolen birds back to his apartment, where he plucks the most colorful feathers from each study skin and cuts parts of each bird into small pieces for illegal online sales. As I read this, my stomach knotted in pain. Each bird had been studied by scientists for decades, a priceless timestamp in the biological record; yet, when Rist finished with them, he tossed each skin into a cardboard box by his closet. More heartbreaking still was that he cut many of the tags off the specimens, rendering them effectively useless without their locality, date, and identifying information.

It’s hard to overstate the tragedy of destroying irreplaceable scientific objects. Natural-history collections are vital to our understanding of biodiversity, evolution, and environmental change, and they only grow more valuable with time. In the late 1960s, museums were critical to discovering the link between the pesticide DDT and eggshell thinning. This research convinced the U.S. government to ban DDT to protect declining populations of birds of prey. Last year biologists used more than 1,300 bird skins to produce a timeline of air quality in the U.S. manufacturing belt from the early to mid 20th century, filling a large gap in the historical record. At my own institution—the University of New Mexico’s Museum of Southwestern Biology, which houses over four million vouchered specimens from around the world—researchers used historic vouchers to identify the deer mouse as the reservoir for the deadly hantavirus, and they confirmed the virus’s presence in populations nearly 15 years prior to the 1993 outbreak. It was only because deer mice had been archived in the museum dating back to 1979 that scientists were able to answer questions over one decade later that no one imagined would need answering, underscoring the importance of scientific collections.

At the Museum of Southwestern Biology, our collection includes extinct species like the Carolina Parakeet and Eskimo Curlew, type specimens (the original specimen upon which a new species name and description are based), and rarities that are hard to find anywhere else. The collection plays an integral role in courses; public outreach; and our team’s research on the evolutionary adaptations of birds to high-altitude environments, and how bird ranges might be affected by climate change. It’s impossible to predict what questions about environmental change, population genetics, or evolution we may want to ask 20 years from now; specimens provide important historic baselines, and new technologies will only increase the breadth of questions we can address using these samples, a point made strongly by leading scientists.

One of Rist’s most tragic admissions is that he doesn’t understand why the Tring (or any museum) needs “so many” of each study skin; he admits he thinks they’re useless if they just sit in drawers. Similarly, one might ask: Why does a library need so many books? But unlike a book, each specimen represents a singular, unique record in time. A King Bird-of-paradise collected by Alfred Russel Wallace in 1858 has a much different value than one collected in 2018 because the information we can glean about genetics, evolution, and ecology corresponds to time and place. By robbing the Tring of something that can never be restored, Rist did truly irreparable damage to the biological record.

Wallace Johnson succeeds in conveying the gravity of this natural-history “heist of the century,” and one of The Feather Thief’s greatest strengths is the excitement, horror, and amazement it evokes. It’s nonfiction that reads like fiction, with plenty of surprising moments beyond the crime and its aftermath. Wallace Johnson’s writing style is honest and reflective at times. In one nod to forgotten history, he emphasizes the critical role that early feminists played in bringing an end to feather fever: “In an era when women were expected to remain at home and had yet to be granted the right to vote or own property, the abolition of the feather trade was ultimately their work.”

The Feather Thief is a compelling blend of mystery, quirky salmon fly tiers, and dogged natural-history enthusiasts, and it highlights the obsessive lengths that people will go to destroy—and protect—some of the world’s most valuable treasures. The book’s main drawback is that the suspenseful tone and diligent quest for answers aren’t matched by the rather abrupt ending, acknowledging that the underground fly-tying world and illegal feather sales are still flourishing. Then again, perhaps the unfinished feeling is justified: How do you conclude a real-life mystery when many stolen specimens haven’t yet been recovered, and likely never will be?

Off the Ropes

leah kirk

endangered Laurel Dace.jpg

Eighteen months after being rescued from rapidly dwindling streams on Walden Ridge north of Chattanooga, the embattled and endangered Laurel Dace finally has cause to celebrate.  More than 450 juveniles of this green-bodied, red-bellied native fish recently hatched from eggs spawned at the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute. These tiny, nearly-translucent flies are the offspring of 29 adult Laurel Dace living at the institute. This population — or brood stock — is being kept at the institute to propagate this federally endangered fish and includes 19 adults recently collected from Bumbee Creek in Rhea County and 10 rescued from the same stream during the historic drought that baked the Southeast in the latter half of 2016.

“Recent surveys have indicated that the Laurel Dace are persisting in only two streams out of their historical range of eight,” says Tennessee Aquarium Reintroduction Biologist Meredith Harris. “This puts the species at a higher risk of extinction whenever we experience extreme weather events.”

In November 2016, the Southeast was in the grips of a historic, months-long drought. This catastrophic dry spell withered the streams where the Laurel Dace was known to exist, transforming them into rapidly diminishing pools of water in which the few remaining populations were isolated and trapped.

The Laurel Dace was already struggling due to runoff sedimentation from area farms. Due to poor agricultural practices, silt blanketed the bottom of its native waterways, smothering its eggs and any newly hatched larvae. The regional drought represented the second blow in a potentially knock out combination.

Faced with the prospect of losing the species entirely, biologists from the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute and U.S. Fish and Wildlife mounted a rescue operation. The scientific teams visited creeks on the Cumberland Plateau is known to house Laurel Dace. There, they collected 18 individuals to help safeguard against the possibility of extinction.

Eventually, the rains returned, the creeks rose and the remaining Laurel Dace held on to their tenuous existence. Some of the rescued fish were retained in human care, however, so scientists could determine how most effectively to care for them and the best methods to propagate them.

For a species that’s on the brink and under-studied, developing these protocols is a critical step to ensuring scientists can safeguard it from future calamities, Harris says.

“We’ve been doing reintroduction and propagation protocols with many other species at the Conservation Institute, but this is the first time that we’ve worked with anything in this group of minnows. It’s very different,” she says. “We’re feeling our way through it, but the results look really promising so far.”

The appearance of hundreds of baby Laurel Dace in the propagation room at the Tennessee Aquarium’s freshwater science center speaks to the success of that effort and represents an important step in securing a better future for the species, she adds.

North Carolina Work Shop: Fly-casting

leah kirk

There are currently 15 spaces left and the cost is free. There is no experience necessary for this course. The Pechmann Fishing Education Center’s Introductory Fly-casting Course is designed as a fun and easy way for beginning fly anglers to give fly-casting a try. Or, you have some experience casting a fly rod and you may be looking to refine your fly-casting skills. This course presents a great way to improve your casting using tactile and visual cues that are easy to understand.

Their trained volunteer instructors will guide you through the roll cast and basic cast using Joan Wulff’s method of fly-casting that provides the beginning fly- angler with the foundations for more advanced casting. Class size is limited to 20 participants to ensure adequate one on one coaching from our qualified cadre of volunteers.  The minimum age requirement is 12 years old and participants 15 years old and younger must be under the supervision of a parent or guardian.

Fly rods and other necessary equipment will be provided by the Pechmann Center. However, we require that all participants wear closed-toe shoes, a hat with visor, and some sort of eyewear (polarized sunglasses are recommended). This course is offered free of charge and preregistration is required.

It’s Not Just Muddy Water…

leah kirk

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SHENANDOAH COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) -- According to a new study, much of the Shenandoah River is polluted with unsafe levels of E. coli. The study, conducted by the Environmental Integrity Project, says the pollution is because of animal waste runoff. Using state records, it was found that more than 90 percent of the water quality monitoring stations where the state regularly samples the Shenandoah River found fecal bacteria (also known as E. coli) at levels unsafe for human contact.

Many farmers will use animal waste as a fertilizer for crops. The Shenandoah River runs through Shenandoah, Page, Rockingham, and Augusta counties, which, combined, have about 159 million chickens, 16 million turkeys and 528,000 cows raised annually. That's a lot of manure in the fields. When it rains, that waste can run into the river and cause trouble, because the levels aren't only unsafe for fish, but also for humans.

"I am always very careful about getting in this water. I make sure not to get it in my eyes, God forbid I drink any of it. It's just dangerous," said Herschel Finch, a fisherman in Front Royal.

The Virginia Farm Bureau Federation is responding by calling the report "an opinion piece."

 “Virginia needs to start notifying the public that the Shenandoah Valley’s waterways are unsafe for swimming and tubing – or, better yet, the state should solve this manure overload problem,” said Eric Schaeffer, Executive Director of the Environmental Integrity Project and former Director of Civil Enforcement at EPA. “The state should either require the livestock industry --or use public funds -- to collect the excess manure that crops can’t use and ship it out of the valley, to a region that needs it.”

Breaking News: Tim O'Brien Joins Southern Trout

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              Montevallo, AL 5/7/18 Noted fishing rod making authority Dr. Timothy P. O'Brien recently joined the Southern Trout Magazine as a columnist. He will write a monthly installment called the Fiberglass Counter-Revolution touting the return of the modern fiberglass fly embraced the retro, forgiving feel of fiberglass.”

               “We are quite pleased to welcome Tim back into the STM family,” says publisher Don Kirk. “The June/July will carry Tim’s first article on the meteoric acceptance by the fly fishing community of the modern fiberglass fly rod. Currently, most makers of fly rods from the big companies such as Fenwick to the small craftsmen have to small shade tree makers make fiberglass fly rods.

              Tim is the owner of Tycoon Tackle, which in its heyday was the toast of the angling world and such legendary notables as Hemingway. Dr. O'Brien currently lives in a quiet community in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with his wife, Anne.

                 Southern Trout Magazine is part of Southern Unlimited, and is a free to subscribe to, digital publication publishing in its sixth year, followed by its sister publications, Southern Saltwater Fishing, Southern Kayak Fishing, and ST “Ozark Edition”. For more visit  

Lake Buffalo Youth Fishing Derby May 12

leah kirk

Lake Buffalo Youth Fishing Derby May 12.jpg

The Monongahela National Forest invites everyone to the 2018 Lake Buffalo Youth Fishing Derby. This free event will take place Saturday, May 12, from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Lake Buffalo located near Bartow, West Virginia.

Registration begins on-site at 8:30 a.m. Participants do not need a fishing license, but must register for the event. The derby is open to children ages 2 to 13 who are accompanied by their parent or guardian. Each age group, beginning with the youngest, will fish for 30 minutes. Family members may assist their children, but cannot fish for them. Anglers must bring their own fishing rod and reel. Single hook lures or hooks with bait are allowed. Treble hooks are not allowed. Participants can keep the first two fish they catch.

“The Lake Buffalo Youth Fishing Derby is a great way to introduce kids to fishing,” said Jack Tribble, Greenbrier District Ranger. “The DNR stocks a lot of fish for us so there is a good chance that each child will catch fish!”

All participants will receive a goody bag at registration. Prizes will be awarded in each age group for the largest fish caught by an angler. Random drawings will also be held for other prizes. For more information, please call the Greenbrier Ranger District at 304-456-3335.

Monongahela National Forest Plans Prescribed Fire

leah kirk

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Weather permitting, the Forest Service plans to conduct a prescribed fire in the Big Mountain Area southeast of Cherry Grove, West Virginia. Two burn blocks, a total of 473 acres, are scheduled for burning in April or May 2018.


“Our goal is to restore the historical fire regime, improve conditions for oak regeneration, and enhance wildlife habitat in the Big Mountain area,” said Troy Waskey, Cheat-Potomac District Ranger. “These prescribed fires will also reduce the potential and severity of wildfires in the future.”


The use of prescribed fire was analyzed in the Big Mountain Project Environmental Assessment and a burn plan was prepared over the winter. Burn plans consider public safety, protection of private property, temperature, humidity, wind, moisture of the vegetation, and conditions for the dispersal of smoke. Prescribed fire specialists compare conditions on the ground to those outlined in burn plans before deciding whether to burn on a given day. If conditions are not right for a burn that will create the desired outcomes safely, burning will not take place.


Control lines will be established around each burn block days or weeks before the actual prescribed fire. Control lines contain the fire by removing fuel sources (leaves, brush, etc.) in the line and are created mechanically, using hand tools or heavy equipment. Control lines are often strengthened by “blacklining” or burning areas adjacent to the control line to remove fuels prior to igniting the entire block.


Local radio stations will be alerted to burn activities ahead of time. Signs will be posted on roads near all prescribed burn areas before and when burning is in progress. Area residents and travelers through the area may see or smell smoke from these prescribed fires. If you encounter smoke on the highway, slow down, turn on your vehicle’s lights and drive appropriately for the conditions.

Plans to Improve Pisgah National Forest Trails

leah kirk

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Plans are being developed for a number of improvements in the trails in the Pisgah National Forest in western North Carolina. Pisgah District Range Dave Casey and the U.S. Forest Service are working on plans to overhaul some of the forest's most-loved and heavily damaged trails. The plans call for building some new trials and creating loop connectors on some existing trails. Some trails would be closed or restricted. There are also plans to enlarge a parking lot at the Daniel Ridge Trailhead. The projects are designed to increase the sustainability of recreation and improve water quality in the area. Nearly five million people visited the Pisgah and Nantahala national forests each year.


leah kirk

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Gigging consists of spearing fish rather than catching them with a hook and line. It is primarily a nighttime activity and is most effective in shallow, clear water. Share input on gigging on Ozark streams through the MDC homepage at under GIGGING FEEDBACK.

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is reviewing regulations of the Wildlife Code of Missouri regarding gigging on Ozark streams and wants public input through a brief online survey regarding timing of the season, season length, and comments.

Share input on gigging on Ozark streams through the MDC homepage at under GIGGING FEEDBACK. Please take the survey by June 15.

Top Sportfishing Equipment Brands for 2017

leah kirk

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FERNANDINA BEACH, FL. Sportsmen are spending millions of dollars on fishing equipment, but which brands are they buying? Southwick Associates surveyed more than 11,000 anglers in 2017 through their online AnglerSurvey consumer panel to identify the top brands in the market. Although mostl traditional tackle, the top fly line brand was Scientific Angler (3M) and the top fly leaders brand was Rio

In 2017, some of sportfishing’s most frequently purchased brands include:

Top combo brand: Shakespeare

Top fishing line brand: Berkley

Top hard bait brand: Rapala

Top dough bait brand: Berkley

Top jig brand: Dirty Jigs

Top sinker brand: Bullet Weights

Top swivel brand: Eagle Claw

Top rig brand: Sea Striker

Top fly line brand: Scientific Angler (3M)

Top fly leaders brand: Rio

Top clothing brand: Columbia

Top hat brand: Columbia

Top landing net brand: Ego

Top tackle box brand: Plano

Top fishing knife brand: Rapala

Top cooler brand: Coleman

Top trolling motor brand: Minn Kota

A variety of key fishing products are examined in the Southwick Associates 2017 Fishing Participation and Equipment Purchases Report. This in-depth resource illustrates angler’s participation and shopping behaviors, including the percentage of sales occurring across different retail channels, brand purchased, price paid, and demographics for anglers buying specific products. Additional information tracked includes total days spent per activity, type of fishing, and targeted species.

Breaking News: Survive a Bear Attack: Tips on Using Bear Spray

leah kirk


When fishing or camping in an area known to be populated by black bears, the best strategy to avoid an unpleasant encounter is to stay alert, travel in groups, and make a lot of noise. It’s also a good idea to be on the lookout for bear activity, such as overturned rocks and logs, visible tracks, scat, or bear dens.

Most of the times, black bears go out of their way to avoid people, and the vast majority of bear encounters and attacks happen because they were protecting their cubs – or you just managed to really surprise them.

Aggressive confrontations with bears are rare, but in that event, your best defense is bear spray. In fact, a report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services states that bear spray is more effective than bullets in stopping or diverting a charging bear.

Bear spray 101

Bear pepper spray works by shooting bursts of atomized capsaicin, which is a derivative from red peppers, for up to 8 meters. The capsaicin causes the membranes of the bear’s lungs, nose, and eyes to swell, making them temporarily lose their breathing and sight, leaving you time to leave the area.

This may seem simple, but there is more to bear pepper spray than meets the eye. Therefore, if you’re going to be heading to bear country, read on for the following safety tips on how to properly use bear spray. Not all bear pepper sprays are created equal, and the best sprays are a combination of a quality can, a well-engineered nozzle, and an atomized propellant, so look for something that has all three.

You may come across bear sprays that claim to contain more capsaicin or be a hotter pepper spray, but they could be less capable of producing a suitably effective cloud as the spray is thicker. Keep these things in mind to ensure you’re purchasing the most effective bear spray.

Check that the bear spray is EPA registered. While there are loads of bear sprays available on the market, you can’t be sure of their efficacy unless they have been EPA registered (Environmental Protection Agency). Your chosen spray should have between 1% – 2% capsaicin.

There are lots of variables when a bear is charging at you, including velocity, wind, and distance. A 5-second duration spray will allow you to empty the contents of the can quickly and efficiently, which is what you want when a bear is charging.

Weather affects the bear spray. The spray distance can be reduced when the temperature is below 40˚F, or it might not even work at all. Therefore, keep your bear spray inside your tent and at body temperature, and never store it outside or in your car. And whenever you’re hiking during colder weather, keep it under your jacket, so it retains some heat.

If the bear starts charging at you, then press the trigger and spray, aiming towards the eyes and face of the bear, creating a protective cloud between you and the bear. In the unlikely event that you are less than 15 feet away from a threatening or charging bear, you need to spray directly into its face, which lessens the severity and length of the attack, improving your chances of surviving the bear attack.


leah kirk

 The Hickory TU Chapter is planning an expansion of theKid’s Day event from last year to make it a family event. The program is scheduled June 9th from 10 to 2 at Glenn C. Hilton Jr. Memorial Park in Hickory and will be called the Fly Fishing Festival. This hopefully will become a large event.

There are about 250 chapter members out there and to accomplish their goal need the support of membership to pull it off. The program includes the following activities:


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Trout in the Classroom

Fly Casting

Knot Tying

Fly Tying

The chapter needs the following to help support these events. ary Hogue will teach fly casting, but needs assistants to help coach. They aslo need one more volunteer to demonstrate fly tying and need volunteers to help with food preparation as well as other general support. Additional needs include canopies and tables for the activities. If you are able to help out with the event, please send anemail to and they will get your name to the appropriate activity chairman.

 The chapter is also looking for sponsors for the event and door prize donations. Sponsorship for the event is $100 and will get your name published on Tshirts, posters, and activity signage. If you would like to be a sponsor for the event or have door prizes you would like to donate, please contact President Zan Thompson at or

May 25 through 27 is the dates for the Cherokee Memorial Day Trout Tournament, a three-da gala with $10,000 in prizes. This popular event has become something of a traditional event on th holiday weekend on tribal waters.

It is an opportunity to fly-fish for tagged trout tournamentson some of the best waters in the United States. The 30 miles of streams on the Cherokee Indian Reservation offer both food and fun for serious and amateur anglers. Their mission is to remember and respect ancient traditions while providing the most enjoyable fishing experience we can.

Register on-line at

Unicoi Outfitters Recognized

leah kirk

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Some of you may have been aware that Unicoi Outfitters was up for nomination for the 2018 Orvis Endorsed Dealer of The Year Award. This is the second year They achieved finalist in this category, and this year we were fortunate enough to bring it home. The entire wish to let everyone know just how sincerely thank all of you for helping us reach this goal. They note that without your patronage and support, this would simply be unachievable for them and are honored to be a part of the Orvis family and uphold the standard of excellence which the brand is known for. They are excited for what the future holds, and they look forward to serving you!