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NC Seeks Info on Hellbender Sightings

leah kirk

With fall fishing in full swing, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is asking the public, in particular anglers, to report any sightings of hellbenders (water dogs) to the agency.


Reported sightings are an important part of a long-term inventory and monitoring project for hellbenders that agency staff, along with partners, began in 2007. Agency biologists want to learn more about where hellbenders—gigantic, aquatic salamanders averaging 16 to 17 inches in length—are located and how their populations are faring.

In North Carolina, hellbenders are found only in fast-moving, clean mountain streams in the western part of the state. Hellbenders, also called “snot otters” and “Alleghany alligators,” were once common but have disappeared throughout much of their habitat, due mainly to declining water quality and habitat degradation, and to a lesser degree to persecution from anglers who mistakenly think that hellbenders decrease trout populations.

Although they may occasionally go after a trout on a line or stringer, looking for an easy meal, hellbenders eat mainly crayfish according to Wildlife Diversity Biologist Lori Williams, who has done extensive work on hellbenders. “They may also eat unsuspecting minnows and scavenge for dead fish, discarded bait or other dead animals. However, fish can be bigger predators of young or larval hellbenders than hellbenders of fish.”

Contrary to popular belief, hellbenders are not poisonous, venomous, toxic or harmful to humans, although they may bite if someone tries to pick them up. Leaving them alone is not only good for hellbenders but also it is the law. Hellbenders are listed as a species of special concern in North Carolina. Because of this listing, it is illegal to take, possess, transport or sell a hellbender or to attempt to do so. A violation is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which can result in a fine and up to 120 days in jail.

Williams also cautions people to refrain from moving rocks in mountain streams as these rocks provide shelter for hellbenders, as well as other species of fish, salamanders and insects.

Anyone who finds a hellbender is asked to leave it alone but to note the location (physical location or GPS coordinates) and take a photo, if possible and email that information to Williams at If anglers happen to catch one on hook and line, they should carefully remove the hook if it is safe to do so without harming the animal or cut the line as close as possible and return it back to the water. People also can call the Commission’s Wildlife Interaction Helpline (866) 318-2401 and provide details of the observation.

Museum Update

leah kirk


by Alen Baker

The museum has had wonderful attendance in the past two years in Bryson City...More than 15,000 visitors in 2017. We have made some adjustments to better use the space in the first building and we are pretty much at exhibit capacity. There are many exhibits in storage pending setup in the second building. We are at a point of calm before the storm. I know the Chamber is working on their end to be ready.

 To date, we have raised 90% of the funds needed to setup the aquariums. We still need at least two $5,000 sponsors for the final tanks planned. However, this need will not prevent us from opening once we get everything we have purchased so far in place.

 It is important for everyone involved, both board and sponsors, to know the current status and the sequence we will be following to get the aquariums up and operating as well as expanding the exhibits into the next building.

 The initial order of the largest 5 custom tanks was placed and paid for in early June. 3 tanks form the mountain stream, 1 tank and metal stand is for the hellbenders and the 5th tank is a 6' x 6' 800 gallon tank to handle larger species of fish. These tanks are custom made of very, very thick, tempered glass by Custom Tanks in Wisconsin. We will need a fork lift outside and a pallet jack inside to move and place these heavy tanks on their stands. These 5 tanks were ordered together, giving us a full tractor-trailer load and with free shipping.

We needed them all up front and in place anyway before we can bring in the other tanks and do the final build. The room is 1000 square feet and is laid out to maximize the capacity for fish exhibits. The mountain stream is over 2500 gallons comprised of 3 larger tanks and a waterfall reservoir tank on the second floor. The other tanks in the room will bring the total capacity at over 6000 gallons among a total of 16 tanks. We will be able to exhibit as many as 60 species of fish at the same time. The room is laid out to hopefully blow visitor away and make them want to return again and again. The aquariums will have a small admissions charge and the revenue will fully fund all museum operations hence forth.

 Unfortunately, the initial order is now long overdue for delivery. We know the glass tempering has been the holdup and we expect to have a delivery date soon. Once the first 5 tanks are in place, we have purchased all the components to build the mountain stream and expect to have it operational ready before year-end. We also expect to have the Living Wall tank in place and operational ready at the same time.

The hellbender tank will be ready soon after since it is dependent on erecting the north wall of tanks (which cannot be started until the mountain stream is in place). During the winter we will complete the construction, barn wood finishing and have all the tanks in place except the two remaining to be sponsored (unless we find sponsors in the coming months - currently talking to Curtis Fleming - Fly Rod Chronicles,  Al Parsons - Nantahala Brewery and others at present for partial or full sponsorships). One tank will be collectively sponsored by businesses and individuals ($1000 - Platinum, $500 - Gold, $250 - Silver, $100 - Bronze).

 We plan a soft opening on March 27-28 (same weekend as the next Museum Hall of Fame Event) depending on how well the build goes. Each tank needs about 30 days running before fish may be added for display. We have Jon Smith on board working on the supply of fish from agencies, etc. Chris Holler is working on the hellbender permits (we have two young hellbenders reserved in the Dallas, Texas rearing facility). Upscale Aquatics is leading the designing and building the aquariums.

MO Stream Restoration Projects Use Nature’s Strength

leah kirk

MO Stream.jpg

The Nature Conservancy has been restoring eroded streambanks, using native plants and natural materials, which the organization says have more environmental benefits than using quarry rock.

Since the summer of 2017, conservationists have been working with environmental engineers to stabilize streambanks at LaBarque Creek near Pacific. They're also doing so along the Elk River in southwest Missouri, where sediments have polluted the watershed. Through bioengineering techniques, they repair the streams by using deep-rooted native plants, biodegradable coconut fibers and other natural materials, such as wood, to keep the banks from depositing sediments into the water.

The work, when successful, can improve water quality, provide better wildlife habitat and prevent erosion caused by flooding. After months of monitoring the project sites, the Nature Conservancy has seen the benefits it hoped to achieve. At LaBarque Creek, for example, conservationists have seen fish species, such as the long-eared sunfish, reappear after the restoration work. Sediment pollution can be harmful to aquatic life, said Barbara Charry, the conservancy’s Lower Meramec River coordinator.

Barbara Charry is the Nature Conservancy's lower Meramec River coordinator. She said bioengineered streambanks can reduce flood risk and improve wildlife habitat.

 “The sediment itself gets into the water and so animals that filter that water get suffocated,” Charry said. “Fish that are spawning and leaving their eggs on the bottom, those are going to be smothered and they’re not going to be so productive.”

Before the bioengineering work, the land surrounding LaBarque Creek was a bare, former ballfield. The stretch where the Nature Conservancy worked is on a property belonging to Washington University’s Tyson Research Center. The center’s staff had informed conservationists about the erosion problems at the creek, said Steven Herrington, the Nature Conservancy’s director of freshwater conservation.

“There was no vegetation out on the site,” Herrington said, ”and as the water would come from upstream that way, come down through this bend, it just kept taking chunks of the stream with it.”

The two sites also have proved resilient to major floods, which is important, given how climate change could bring more heavy rains to Missouri, Charry said.

“This kind of solution reduces that flood risk,” Charry said. “It slows that water down, it allows it to Steven Herrington, the Nature Conservancy's director of freshwater conservation, said the bioengineering techniques have helped create better habitat for insects and aquatic species that live in and around LaBarque Creek.

A more traditional approach to stabilizing streambanks would involve concrete and rip-rap, or quarry rocks, to prevent erosion. Bioengineering is less costly, creates habitat for wildlife and looks more appealing, Charry said.

“This is highly engineered but looks completely natural,” Charry said, as she stood at the LaBarque Creek site.

Because of the wide-ranging benefits to the environment, the Nature Conservancy wants the Environmental Protection Agency to consider making bioengineering as a part of its plan to clean up the Big River Mine Tailings Superfund site.

The Elk River project covered 1,650 feet and cost $652,000. The LaBarque Creek site covered about 300 feet and cost $40,000.

The bioengineering method has been used in past decades to restore salmon and trout populations in other parts of the country, but this is the first time it’s been used in Missouri. The Nature Conservancy plans to use such techniques to restore a portion of Keifer Creek at Castlewood State Park next year.

Wilson Creek Benefits from Historic Conservation Legislation

leah kirk

Outdoor recreation generates $28 billion dollars annually in North Carolina, according to the Outdoor Recreation Association, and the state's thousands of miles of waterways are a large part of that. One example is the Wilson Creek watershed in Caldwell and Avery counties, one of five areas in the state that was created as a result of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, celebrating its 50th anniversary this month.

New River and Lumber River are among the other waterways in North Carolina that also received funding from the act.

On Saturday, Nov. 3, more than two dozen community partners, including Trout Unlimited, Resource Institute, the U.S. Forest Service and Foothills Conservancy, will host a public party to celebrate the anniversary of the legislation, and announce new community projects to further enhance Wilson Creek.

One of the new projects that will be launching at the event is a Citizen Scientists Initiative, where community members will be invited to monitor and maintain trails and roads around the Wilson Creek area.

"We're going to be utilizing citizen scientists to walk up trails and find significant sedimentation and erosion areas that the Forest Service and Trout Unlimited and other partners can then remediate," explains Andy Brown, Southern Appalachian cold water conservation manager with Trout Unlimited.

Brown adds that the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act anniversary is a good time to recognize how far efforts have gone over the years.

"Fifty years is a long time, and sometimes we all get busy on working on our conservation projects that we don't take time to just pause and just be, and remember why we're in this work in the first place, and why we even have a wild and scenic river," he states.

The Hickory NC Chapter of Trout Unlimited has an event scheduled at the Wilson Creek Visitor Center on Saturday, Nov 3rd to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wild & Scenic River Act.  Activities include:

1.  Fly Casting - Gary Hogue will be teaching the class and needs volunteers to assist with coaching after the lesson.

2.  Chapter Table - they need people at our table to discuss our chapter, trout in the classroom, and sell raffle tickets for a fly rod

3.  Fly tying - they need people to demonstrate (and perhaps help visitors) with fly tying.

MO to Stock Trout for Winter Trout Season

leah kirk


CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) will stock rainbow trout in three southeast Missouri lakes, kicking off the annual winter trout program. Perryville’s Legion Lake, Jackson’s Rotary Lake and Farmington’s Giessing Lake, are all locations for the very popular fishing program.

According to MDC fisheries management biologists, approximately 3,760 rainbow trout will be stocked in Legion Lake, about 1,900 trout will be stocked in Rotary Lake and 1,200 in Giessing Lake prior to the opener, Nov. 1. In addition, a number of ‘lunkers’ will be stocked into each lake. The cities of Jackson, Farmington, Perryville and Perry County, the Perry County Sportsmen’s Club, and the Missouri Department of Conservation funded the trout stocking.

Beginning Nov. 1, Anglers can fish for this popular cold-water fish through the fall and winter months on a catch-and-release basis, harvesting trout as of Feb. 1, 2019. Rainbow trout are cold-water fish living in water temperatures less than 70 degrees. They do well in local impoundments during the colder months.

“Although this fall has been unseasonably warm, recent cool weather has rapidly cooled water temperatures making the local lakes suited for trout,” said Paul Cieslewicz, MDC fisheries management biologist.

Cieslewicz cautions anglers to remember that from Nov. 1 through Jan. 31, all trout must be released unharmed immediately. During this time, anglers may only fish with flies, artificial lures, and unscented plastic baits. In addition, they may only use one fishing rod at a time and chum is not permitted. Starting Feb. 1, any bait may be used and four trout may be kept regardless of size. All anglers between the ages of 16 and 64 must have a valid Missouri fishing permit and any angler harvesting trout must possess a trout permit as well.

Trout can be caught on a wide variety of lures, according to Cieslewicz.

“Flies imitating aquatic insects are popular with fly fishers,” he said, “but spinners, small spoons, and other small lures are also good choices.”

Light line and tackle will typically produce more fish. Successful anglers typically use 2-6 pound test line when fishing with lures and add little or no additional weight to the line. Set the drag light as a trout often hits hard and makes strong runs which can break weak or frayed line.

Capital Sportsman Received SEOPA Excellence Award

leah kirk

capital sportsman.png

Washington, DC based Capital Sportsman recently received an Excellence in Craft award for Public Relations in the Industry from the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association (SEOPA) for its "Heroes in Our Midst" blog post about the late, Lefty Kreh. The first year fly shop is celebrating winning an award from SEOPA by offering 25% off our Classic Hemingway Poplin Fishing shirts through the end of the month.

SEOPA was founded in 1964 to promote quality communication, ethical conduct, fellowship, and education of outdoor activities and issues.  The stored are honored to have received an award from such an admirable organization.

NC Wildlife Beginning Fly Tying Course

leah kirk

nc fly tying classes.jpg

NC Wildlife at the  John E. Pechmann Education Center s offering a Fly-tying Course is designed to provide the student with a basic knowledge of fly tying tools, materials, patterns, and tying techniques.  The class is 11/10/2018 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  They teach the course in progression beginning with simple fly patterns and steadily advance toward more complex flies allowing the students to build on their skills. In this course, students will complete 6 fly patterns over approximately 8 hours of instruction.

In order to assure that each student receives proper instruction, this course is limited to 25 participants. All tools and materials are provided. In addition, participants will receive a Fly-tying Handbook that provides them with reference to the patterns tied in class. This course is suitable for ages 12 years old and older. However, participants 12 -15 years old must be accompanied by an adult.

Breaking News: Georgia Casting for Recovery Holds Retreat

leah kirk


Exclusively for women with metastatic breast cancer,  Casting for Recovery (CfR), a national nonprofit organization providing free fly fishing retreats for women with breast cancer, recently held a specialty retreat at Smithgall Woods State Park in Helen, Georgia on October 5-7, 2018, which served 10 women with metastatic (Stage IV) breast cancer.

“Women with metastatic breast cancer have very different concerns as compared with non-metastatic cancer survivors.,” says CfR National Program Director, Susan Gaetz. “Our support for these women is most effective when it is provided in a metastatic-exclusive environment where women can openly express their hopes and fears without the need to protect anyone or hold back.”   

CfR launched a Metastatic Retreat Program in 2016 giving participants the opportunity to learn an exciting new skill - fly fishing - as well as learn ways to balance a fulfilling lifestyle with ongoing cancer treatment and side effects. Oncologists, psychosocial facilitators, and experienced fly fishers supported these women for a weekend of hope and healing. Casting for Recovery is one of the first survivorship organizations in the country to implement a retreat program specifically for women with advanced breast cancer.

CfR’s powerful program combines breast cancer education and peer support with the therapeutic sport of fly fishing. The Georgia retreat weekend offered opportunities for the women to find inspiration, discover a renewed energy for life and experience healing connections with nature and other women living with advanced breast cancer.

Women that participated in the program had this to say about their retreat experience:

 “How can I ever thank all of the hands and hearts that put this weekend together? Since I am the one who always does for others, I didn't realize how much I would appreciate having others do for me.”

“I have thought of little else since I got home. The weekend was so meaningful to me. I’m now in a perpetual state of “chill” despite the sink full of dishes that awaited me.”

“It was an amazing weekend, from all of the special gifts to the group discussions to the wonderful meals and camaraderie.”

In 2018 Casting for Recovery will hold 60 retreats in 45 states, including 3 specialty programs focused on women with metastatic (Stage IV) breast cancer in Indiana, Georgia and Texas. CfR retreats are unconventional, allowing women an escape the clinical setting of a cancer diagnosis and are often described as life-changing. During this two and a half day retreat, an army of volunteers came together to empower the participants with educational resources, to facilitate connections and friendship, creating a new support community. The women also learned how to fly fish and had the opportunity to experience the healing power of nature.


Casting for Recovery® (CfR) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 1996 featuring a unique program that combines breast cancer education and peer support with the therapeutic sport of fly fishing. Their retreats offer opportunities for women to find inspiration, discover renewed energy for life and experience healing connections with other women and nature. CfR’s retreats are open to women of any age, in all stages of breast cancer treatment and recovery, at no cost to participants. For information:

New UNI-Yarn Regular Sand from UNI

leah kirk

UNI-Products, a world leader in the supply of spooled fly-tying materials, announces the addition of the color Sand to their very popular UNI-Yarn Regular line. This adds to the versatility of the existing lineup:  Black, Black/Camel, Burnt Orange, Brown, Bronze, Cream, Gold, Olive Green, Grey, Insect Green, Kelly Green, Khaki, Dark Brown, Dark Grey, Light Yellow, Magenta, Olive, Orange, Purple, Pale Yellow, Red, Salmon, Sun Yellow, White, and Wine. Tiers now have twenty-six colors at their disposal for creating attractive bodies. UNI also offers UNI-Yarn Fluorescent in Chartreuse, Chinese Red, Green Highlander, Light Pink, Orange, and Yellow, a favorite with salmon and steelhead fly tiers. Tiers can also take advantage of our popular 20-spool UNI-Yarn combo. Visit our website for information on all our products. Look to UNI-Products for the best in spooled fly-tying materials and accessories.


ADEQ Proposes to Deny C&H Hog Permit

leah kirk

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The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (“ADEQ”) recently provided public notice of a denial (for the second time) of C & H Hog Farms, Inc. (“C & H”) application for an Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission Regulation No. 5 permit.  More about C & H here. (

The reasons were given by ADEQ for denying the permit as stated in Section 8 of the “Statement of Basis” ( of the Public Notice are summarized as follows:

* Deficiencies in the Geological Investigation: ADEQ’s findings confirm the presence of Karst hydrogeology at the C & H site and surrounding area which allows groundwater to flow through interconnected underground fissures and cracks and into aquifers which are extremely vulnerable to contamination.

* Water Quality Issues: ADEQ’s findings confirm two sections of Big Creek in Newton County and two sections of the Buffalo National River are now impaired due to the presence of pathogens and low levels of dissolved oxygen. CAFO a Reg. 5.  Dye tracing has documented that underground streams which may be hydrologically connected to C&H activities have allowed residential water wells to be contaminated.

Anglers continue to see massive algal blooms in the Buffalo National River which are confirmed to include dangerous cyanotoxins. The presence of these algal blooms and related toxins are not only a threat to public health but are also a threat to the $70+ million contribution the Buffalo National River provides to Arkansas’s economy and in particular to those counties which border the river. Sound science supports the permit denial and reaffirms the position of tens of thousands of concerned citizens dedicated to the protection of the Buffalo National River.

Please submit your comments ( in support of ADEQ’s denial of the permit for C&H Hog CAFO in the Buffalo National River watershed by October 17th.

October Events and Clinics at Alpharetta Outfitters

leah kirk


During the month of October Alpharetta Outfitters invites all to join in on their Fall Fly Tying Contest.  Bring your favorite, self-tied, trout pattern by the shop to be entered.  The fly must be your own homegrown dry fly, nymph, or streamer.  We encourage all experience levels of tiers to participate. They will announce a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winner at the end of October.

1st Place: Loon Tying Kit, $25 dollar gift card, and an AO hat.

2nd Place: Wapsi Fly Tying LED Lamp, $25 gift card, and an AO hat.

3rd Place: $25 dollar gift card, and an AO hat.


Nymphing 101 Fly Fishing Clinic *FREE*

Thur. October 11th, 7-9pm

Fish do as much as 90 percent of their feeding underwater, and once you learn the techniques of "nymphing" with sub-surface insect imitations you'll be set to get in on that exciting action yourself!  In this clinic, we hope to demystify nymph fishing and make it easier to understand.  Join us for this special clinic to learn this great fly fishing technique that is sure to help you on the water this fall!

"Intro to Articulation" Fly Tying Class ($30)

Sat. October 13th, 9-12pm

There is something to be said about going on a headhunt for that one, BIG brown trout. In these scenarios, big flies will catch big fish!  This class will introduce the techniques used for adding articulation to your streamer patterns and give you the foundation for creating your own, unique, articulating flies.  Bigger flies, more movement, what more do big fish want?  Let us help you start filling your box with the meaty flies big fish won't be able to resist!

NOTE: This is an intermediate to advanced tying class. It will be assumed that you already have knowledge of pinch wraps, whip finishes, trapping wraps, and applying dubbing.

 Bugs and Suds *FREE*

Wed. October 17th, 6-9pm

 Bugs and Suds is a gathering of tiers sitting down to tie flies, swap stories, and enjoy a cold beverage. Bring your vice, tools, and tying materials and we'll provide the rest. This month's event will be hosted at the shop. Come one come all!

 Georgia DH Fly Fishing Clinic *FREE*

Thur. October 25th, 7-9pm

 From Nov. 1 through May 14, portions of five Georgia streams are managed for Delayed Harvest catch-and-release trout fishing.  DH season is the perfect combination of cooler weather and freshly stocked trout that will make any angler excited to head to the water! In this clinic, avid fly angler and author, Steve Hudson, will discuss fly selection, technique, and locations to get the most out of your Delayed Harvest fishing this season.


Georgia DH Fly Tying Class ($30)

Sat. October 27th, 9-12pm

 Half the battle of any fly fishing venture is being well stocked with flies that you have confidence in. While delayed harvest trout are stocked, these fish can still get selective throughout the season. This means having a diverse fly box of proven DH fly patterns is crucial. In this tying class, Steve Hudson will teach several of the most effective DH fly patterns that you can take to the river with confidence. This is an intermediate to advanced tying class. It will be assumed that you already have knowledge of pinch wraps, whip finishes, trapping wraps, and applying dubbing.

Annual Smoky Mountain Fly Fishing Festival

leah kirk

Annual Smoky Mountain Fly Fishing Festival.jpg

Today, Saturday, October 13, at 9 am - 5 pm is Bryson City’s annual Smoky Mountain Fly Fishing Festival where you can see the latest product lines in vendor gear, meet fishing guides and fly tiers, watch casting demos and enjoy the Delayed Harvest waters on the Tuckasegee River at this annual festival. Located at The Warehouse at Nantahala Brewing, with live music and food.

While there check Eugene Shuler’s spanking new fly shop, already one of the finest in the region. Named Fly Fishing the Smokies, the same as his highly successful guide service (the largest in the region). Eugene hopes to redefine the sport in Bryson City. Go by an say hi to him.

Davidson Winter Tying Class Schedule

leah kirk

Davidson Winter Tying Class Schedule.jpg

“The Davidson River is fishing well in the mornings, and some of the angling herd has moved onto the DH streams in search of less finicky fish,” said Kevin Howell owner of the Davidson River Outfitters. “ Ants, caterpillars, and crickets are the daily special for surface action, with small soft hackles, sinking ants, and midges working for those fish who aren't looking up.  As always, expect to fish long leaders, skinny tippet, and flies in one size smaller than you typically prefer.”

Kevin, Walter, and J.E.B. have a full schedule of activities plan for the DH season as follows:

Fly 101: Intro to Fly Tying with J.E.B. Hall

Saturday, December 8th, 2018   9:00am to 1:00pm

$20 per person


Fly 201:   Intermediate Fly Tying with J.E.B. Hall

Saturday, December 15th, 2018  9:00am to 1:00pm

$20 per person


Kids Holiday Fly Tying Session (Ages 15 & Under) with J.E.B. Hall and Debbie Gillespie

Saturday, December 22nd 2018  9:00-12:00pm

$10.00 per student


Fly Tying 102 (Night Class-3 week session) with J.E.B. Hall

January 7th, 14th, & 21st. 2019 6 pm to 8 pm

$30 per person


Fly 101:  Intro to Fly Tying with J.E.B. Hall

Saturday, January 15th, 2019   9:00am to 1:00pm

$20 per person


Tying Soft Hackle & Tenkara Flies with Landon Lipke

Saturday, January 19th, 2019, 9 am to 1 pm

$20 per person


Tying & Fishing Southern Appalachian Trout Flies with Kevin Howell

Saturday, January 26th, 2019   9:00am-1:00pm

$20 per person


Tying Terrestrials with Landon Lipke

Friday, February 2nd, 2019   9am to 1pm

$20 per person


Fly Tying 202 (Night Class-3 Week Session) with J.E.B. Hall

February 4th, 11th, and 18th 2019  6:00pm-8:00pm

$30.00 per person


Tying Articulated Streamers with Landon Lipke

Sunday, February 10, 2019, 9 am to 4 pm

$20 per person


Ladies Fly Tying with Debbie Gillespie

Saturday, February 16, 2019,  9 am-1 pm

$20 per person


Tying Midges with Jeff Furman

Saturday, February 23, 2019, 9 am to 4 pm

$20 per person

Breaking News: Rumble in the Rhododendron Fly Fishing Tournament

leah kirk

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The annual Rumble in the Rhododendron Fly Fishing Tournament is 3 Nov 2018 until 4 Nov 2018

From 12:00 AM - 12:00 AM. Are you and your best fly-fishing buddy ready to rumble with the top anglers around? Then get your $250 entry fee together for this two-person team competition held exclusively in the catch-and-release section of Cherokee’s “trophy waters” known simply as Raven Fork. This tournament offers a payout totaling $10,000 for the top teams. To enter this tournament you must first acquire a Cherokee fishing permit (a list of permit-selling locations may be found at, then register for the event at River’s Edge Outfitter. Additional event details will be discussed on November 2 at 7 p.m. during the opening meeting. Open to all ages. See more at

For Sale: Chinese Trout

leah kirk

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The Chinese government has arbitrarily decided that rainbow trout can now be labeled and sold domestically as salmon. The questionable move follows complaints earlier this year that rainbow trout were being mislabeled as salmon and that fish buyers were being deceived.

But instead of sanctioning vendors who sell trout while claiming it is salmon, the China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Alliance, which falls under the Chinese ministry of agriculture decided to legitimize the practice.

Rainbow trout and salmon look similar when filleted but trout live in freshwater and salmon are born in freshwater but then live in much of their lives in salt water. Chinese state media revealed that a third of fish sold as salmon in China was in fact rainbow trout from Qinghai province, the BBC reported.

 Why not label the crayfish a lobster instead.

Good News for Brook Trout?

leah kirk

By Sarah Farmer


It's not always the case that the "further research" scientists call for in their journal articles brings good news, but sometimes collecting more detailed data yields the unexpected. Results from collaborative research by the US Forest Service and the US Geological Survey may not only bring a sigh of relief to native trout lovers but also provide a precise planning tool for land managers in the Appalachian region faced with rising temperatures from climate change.

The Appalachian Mountains stretch from Maine to northern Georgia in an area crisscrossed by a web of headwaters, creeks, and rivers that teem with fish, crayfish, mussels, salamanders, and a host of aquatic insects. Anglers are drawn to the high-elevation streams of the mountains because of the native eastern brook trout that inhabit the cold, clean waters. Brook trout require cold water for survival, and cannot thrive in streams that warm beyond 70 degrees. Suitable eastern brook trout habitats are scattered along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains, with the southernmost populations of brook trout found in northern Georgia.

Dubbed brookies by locals, adult brook trout boast olive-green sides speckled with golden squiggles and red spots surrounded by blue-gray spheres. Brookies are beautiful, and they're the Southeast's only native trout-though they have company these days. Beginning in the late 1800s, people started stocking mountain streams with non-native rainbow and brown trout brought in from the western United States and Europe. Since then, non-native trout have flourished, often crowding out the native brook trout.

Federal agency managers, conservationists, anglers, and people, in general, have coalesced around the brook trout's plight in relation to the robust non-native trout, in some cases completely removing all trout from a stream and then starting over with brookies. But in 2006, Forest Service research on the possible effects of rising air temperatures on stream water temperatures sent new ripples of alarm through the community of land managers and trout advocates. The research found that over the next century projected rises in temperature might leave only very high mountain headwaters as refuges for coldwater-dependent native brook trout.

The dismal projection relied on widely accepted assumptions about the relation between air and water temperatures; if the air temperature rises by a degree, the water temperature will follow suit, rising by approximately 0.8 of a degree. Since most climate change models predict a 4-degree rise in air temperature over the next century, this would mean a 3.2-degree increase in stream temperatures. For trout and other coldwater creatures that are already at the southern-most extent of their range, this temperature increase could make their homes too hot for comfort-and maybe for survival.

This seemed like very bad news, but it got Forest Service researcher Andrew Dolloff thinking about factors other than temperature rise-slope aspect, forest canopy, and elevation-that aren't taken into account in the large-scale climate models used in the trout habitat studies. "The models used in the coldwater fish habitat studies assumed a pretty close correspondence between rising air and water temperatures," says Dolloff. "My colleagues and I decided to try to verify this and to provide some very specific information for future planning by measuring air and water temperatures in streams that fell within patches identified as brook trout habitat."

When studies, including one by researchers in Dolloff's team, suggested drastic reductions in the historical range of native eastern brook trout based on predictions of temperature rise from the major climate change models, scientists from the National Forest System and the Forest Service Southern and Northern Research Stations, launched a pilot study. Fifty study sites were randomly selected from habitats that presently or historically hosted brook trout populations. Mark Hudy, Forest Service Washington Office National Aquatic Biologist at James Madison University, identified the habitats or patches, which are located on both public and private lands. The researchers adorned each of the 50 study sites with two thermographs (digital thermometers) one in the water at the outlet of a brook trout stream and another dangling from a nearby tree.

Day in and day out, the thermographs record air and stream temperatures every 30 minutes. Originally the researchers intended to show how factors like slope and aspect might affect stream temperature but were in for a surprise when they got readings back from the pilot study in Virginia. "Even in the 50 sites we used for the pilot study it was soon apparent that water temperatures are not always coupled with air temperature, sometimes not at all," says Dolloff. "This suggests that it's really a local matter, and that brook trout might not be as vulnerable to climate change as first projected." During the pilot study, Dolloff began collaborating with Paul Angermeier, a scientist with U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) also based in Blacksburg, to start developing models that combine stream information from the Forest Service and the USGS, a task long in the making and now in process because of a joint climate change research project launched in 2010. For Dolloff it was an easy fit: he and Angermeier have a 25-year history of collaboration.

What started in Virginia has spread, both conceptually and geographically and grown into a full collaboration between the Forest Service and USGS. The study now includes 204 sites and extends from Georgia to Maryland, and the first full year of data has brought good news for trout; the relationship between water and air temperature is relatively insensitive, which means that a rise in air temperature does not lock in a corresponding rise in water temperature. "That said, we also found that the correspondence between water and air temperatures varies a lot from one site to the next," says Dolloff, "It really matters where you are." In sites with a larger drainage area, for example, the water temperature tends to be much more sensitive to air temperature."

To see if the relationships they found in cold water apply to warm water streams, the scientists started looking at air and water temperatures in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain. This part of the project will make use of the extensive data USGS has collected in this area, and will combine models from both agencies to look at how ecosystem services-basic needs provided by the environment might be affected as temperatures rise in the region.

For both this and the cold water part of the study, USGS scientists are also looking at fish as part of a larger universe of ecosystem services. Their approach to ecosystem services goes beyond social benefits like fishing, swimming and boating, and includes the provision of clean water and the processes that regulate stream temperatures. Although essential to human and fish quality of life these ecosystem services are difficult to quantify in dollar amounts. The USGS approach to ecosystem services is unique in that it aims to bridge ecosystem service and fishery domains to look at how services flow from nature to human society, the ecosystem's capacity to provide services, and the degree to which the services are used by people.

For the latest addition to the coldwater streams study, Andrew Rypel, Fisheries Professor at Virginia Tech, and graduate student Bonnie Myers, new members of Dolloff's team, will start summer 2012 collecting detailed information about the abundance, growth, and health of trout in study streams in 20 habitats representative of the study region that extends from Maryland to Georgia. Their work will focus on what's called fish production, which includes the number of fish in each stream and their age, length, and weight. Coupled with information such as the composition of the stream beds, the type and amount of cover, and water chemistry fish production will give the researchers a more accurate picture of the factors that influence the quality of stream habitats.

While difficult to obtain and time-consuming, fish production is the most comprehensive measurement of how fish are doing and whether they're thriving or just getting by. "Fish production will bring our models and projections to life, literally put flesh on the bones," says Dolloff.

Genetic analyses will be part of the fish production work too, giving researchers an idea of whether inbreeding is occurring and offering a general snapshot of how much genetic diversity is within and among the population, and how closely related 'trout families' across streams and watersheds are.

This information is particularly pertinent if the temperature in streams is changing. Healthy streams can host at least 30 to 40 native trout families, each of which spawns in the fall. The eggs incubate over the winter, emerging as fry in the spring. "This life cycle is susceptible to disruption from climate change, as warm winter temperatures may cause the trout to emerge too early, when there's nothing to eat, and many could starve," says Dolloff. "It looks like the winter effects of climate change's effects could impact coldwater species, but the resistance of stream temperatures to changes in air temperature we've found promises some protection."

Project scientists will use the data from the coldwater sites to identify, rank and map the resiliency of the mountain watersheds in the study area to climate change. "This will give managers an effective tool to help prioritize locations for native brook trout survival," says Dolloff. "The unexpected good news is that it looks as if there are many streams that can provide resilient habitat over the next century."


leah kirk

An organization of fly tiers has been formed through the Fly Fishing Museum in Bryson City. The organization mission is to “Promote the craft of fly tying and assure the advancement of individual fly tying skills within the fly tying and angling community.” The goals of the organization are as follows: support new fly tiers, provide demonstrations for events, preserve the history of Southern Appalachian flies, and much more. For more information visit their website at

Rogue Otters Released After Being Aided by NC Agencies

leah kirk

Two otter pups orphaned earlier this year at the North Carolina coast have been successfully rehabilitated and released as part of a cooperative effort between N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island and North Carolina Zoo

Found orphaned near Engelhard, N.C, on April 23, 2018, the female pups were just six weeks old after their mother was attached a car. Left alone nature surely would dispatch them to hell, had a passerby not rescued the vermin. They were taken to North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island where staff cared for them. The aquarium staff assessed their condition and decided they were good candidates for release back into the wild because they had not been exposed to excessive human contact

The bitch otter pair was transported to North Carolina Zoo’s Valerie H. Schindler Wildlife Rehabilitation Center for rehabilitation where they spent just under 16 weeks in rehab. Unfortunately for the general public, the Zoo coordinated the otters’ release with the aquarium and the Commission in late August in Hertford County.

 “Kudos to the staff of all of these agencies who worked together to care for and prepare these orphaned otters for their return to their native environment,” said Susi H. Hamilton, secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. “I’m so proud to work with such caring and dedicated people.”

Ms. Hamilton apparently is not a trout fisherman. We at Southern Trout Magazine suggest she focus on making cookies and pound cake. They send people to North Carolina for robbing banks. Ummmm…..just a thought

North American river otters had almost disappeared by the early 20th century because of Christian efforts to trap every damned otter in the country. In the 1990s, at great taxpayer expense, the NCWRC foolishly began a restoration effort in the mountains with 267 river otters relocated from coastal North Carolina. Thanks to this program, the otter population is now considered fully restored and abundant throughout North Carolina. To this day, North Carolina trout fishermen suffer from the misguided efforts of state workers.

South Holston and Others Receive TN Aquatic Stream Clean-Up Grants

leah kirk

South Holston.jpg

NASHVILLE --- The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has announced the award of grant dollars to assist with 2019 aquatic stream clean-up projects across the state.

The grants were awarded to various organizations for 20 projects across the state. The program is designed to assist cities, schools, community organizations, civic groups, watershed organizations, and conservation groups, with stream clean-up projects.

For more information on the program, contact Della Sawyers in the TWRA Environmental Services Division at (615) 781-6577 or by email at with any questions.


1.      American Hiking Society                          Natchez Trace State Park; Wildersville, Benton,    

                                                                                      Carroll, Henderson counties

2.      City of East Ridge                                       Spring Creek; East Ridge, Hamilton County


3.      Blount County Soil Conservation         Centenary Creek, Blount County


4.      Bradley County Juvenile Court               Cotulla Creek; Bradley County


5.      Clean Memphis                                         Wolf River 


6.      Friends of Warner Park                             Little Harpeth River, Vaughn’s Creek,

                                                                                 Tributaries; Davidson County


7.      Keep Cocke County Beautiful                 Pigeon River; Hartford,  Cocke County


8.      Keep Maury County Beautiful                 Duck River; Columbia, Maury  County           


9.      Keep Putnam County Beautiful                Cane Creek; Putnam County            


10.  McMinnville Breakfast Rotary Club            Barren Fork and Collins River;  Warren County


11.  Mill Creek Watershed Association              Mill Creek and tributaries; Davidson County


12.  Narrow Ridge Center                                      Hogskin Creek; Grainger County


13.  Town of Farragut                                              Turkey Creek; Knox County


14.  Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department            South Indian Creek; Unicoi County


15.  Tims Ford Council                                                Elk River, Tims Ford Lake, Rock Creek, Boling


16.  Watershed Association of the Tellico              Tellico Lake watershed; Loudon County


17.  The Wildlife Society, Inc., UT Martin Chapter    Cane Creek; Martin, Weakley County


18.  Whites Creek Watershed Alliance                        Whites Creek; Nashville, Davidson County


19.  Woodland Community Land Trust                      Laurel Fork on Roses Creek;  Campbell County


20.Keep Bristol BeautifulSouth Holston Lake and River;Sullivan,

WV Pushes Back Delaying Trout Stocking To Improve Fishing

leah kirk

WV Pushes Back Delaying Trout Stocking To Improve Fishing.jpg

Trophy “brood trout” will be included among the trout stocked this fall by Division of Natural Resources hatchery personnel. The DNR plans to stock 25 streams and 10 lakes between Oct. 15 and Oct. 26. Anglers who enjoy West Virginia’s fall trout stockings will have to wait a week later than usual to start catching fish.

The two-week stocking season, which traditionally begins the day after Columbus Day, will instead begin on Oct. 15 and will run through Oct. 26.

Jim Hedrick, supervisor of hatcheries for the state Division of Natural Resources, said agency officials pushed the season back for several reasons.

The reason was so trout anglers — particularly those who prefer to fish in streams — could enjoy better fishing conditions. Normally, water levels are very low in early October. Sometimes streams barely have enough water in them to stock. Toward the end of the month, we usually start getting rain showers again. Waiting another week will allow the state to take advantage of that.

The later dates also coincide with the time of year in which nighttime air temperatures drop rather sharply — and lower air temperatures trigger drops in water temperatures. Trout do better in cooler water. By starting the stocking season one week later, there is a better chance to get water temperatures that are more conducive to trout.

This year’s fall stockings will take place at 10 lakes and on 25 streams. Hedrick said fall-stocked waters tend to be larger waters, mainly because it makes no sense to put trout in smaller streams where there might not even be enough water to cover the fishes’ backs. Low flows and elevated water temperatures shouldn’t be a concern this fall, however, because the state has enjoyed abundant rainfall throughout the spring and summer.