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April West Virginia Golden Trout Month

leah kirk

April West Virginia Golden Trout Month.jpg

In early April, state natural resources officials will change the color of the trout they stock in Mountain State waters. Instead of drab-colored brook, brown, and rainbow trout, they’ll be bright-yellow golden rainbow trout. Called the ‘West Virginia Gold Rush,’ about 25,000 goldens will be stocked that week.

Ordinarily, only one in 10 trout stocked is a golden. But from April 2 to April 6, at 30 waters located throughout the state, every single one will be. The state’s seven trout hatcheries took almost 18 months to raise enough goldens for the event. Hatcheries always run at their maximum capacity, but there is only so much space. To get the fish for this special week of stocking, the state replaced about 25 of every 1,000 rainbow trout we ordinarily raise with goldens.

The fish were spawned at the DNR’s Petersburg Hatchery and were reared at the Bowden, Spring Run, and Reeds Creek hatcheries. The fish being distributed in the stockings might be special, but most of the stockings themselves will not be. Hedrick said most of the Gold Rush waters were going to be stocked that week anyway.

These stockings will take the place of the regularly scheduled stockings at the same locations normally stock. They’ll just be a different color.

At five state parks, the stockings will indeed be special because their dates have been made public. DNR officials don’t ordinarily let people know when waters will be stocked. For the Gold Rush. Golden rainbow trout will be stocked April 2 at Cacapon, Blackwater Falls, Pipestem Resort, Watoga, and North Bend state parks, where special activities will be offered for visitors. Hedrick said many adults will have the day off because of the Easter holiday, and stockings on that date would give families an opportunity to go fishing together.

Anyone who catches a golden at one of those parks on April 2 is eligible to receive one of the Gold Rush Golden Rainbow Trout Award certificates DNR officials are having printed to mark the occasion.

The full list of Gold Rush waters is as follows:

Lakes and ponds will include Barboursville, Bear Rocks, Berwind, Boley, Cacapon, Cedar Creek, Chief Logan, Coopers Rock, French Creek, Little Beaver, Mason, Mountwood, Pendelton, Pipestem, Rollins, Spruce Knob, Tomlinson Run, Wallback, Watoga, and Warden.

Streams will include the Blackwater River, Cranberry R., North Fork of Hughes R. at North Bend State Park, Opequon Creek, Guyandotte R. at R.D. Bailey Dam, Shavers Fork upper and lower sections, South Branch of the Potomac Smoke Hole section, West Fork R. at Stonewall Jackson Dam, and Tygart R. at Tygart Dam.

 

Lefty Kreh Update

leah kirk

Lefty Kreh Update.jpg

Many people know Lefty Kreh and have noticed his first time ever absence at major fly fishing show. In his nineties, the Maryland fly fishing guru is well into recovery mode. Marshall Cutchin of MidCurrent spoke to Lefty for almost an hour recently and shared that Lefty sounded great.

“God and my doctor have given me an extension,” Lefty said. “Some weeks ago, I was put in home hospice care with three medical problems and it was assumed I’d be here a short time. Word about it went on the Internet and my computer and iPhone were flooded with wonderful and humbling messages. I read every one but regretfully wasn’t able to reply to most. My granddaughter used Facebook to handle messages.

“My doctor and best friend experimented with medicines and said, ‘I’m going to try to keep you around.’ So far it’s working. I’m confined to my home, hooked to oxygen and have little stamina. My daughter and son are taking constant care of me and no father was more blessed.

“Several computer projects keep me busy. There have been ups and downs with some additional surgery, which is slowly getting better.

“There is no guarantee on how long I’ll be here, but I am so humbled and grateful for all your wonderful messages.

“All The Best, Lefty”

Tellico River Clean Up

leah kirk

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Mark your calendar and plan to be at Tellico on Saturday, March 10 for the annual Tellico River Clean-up. The public is invited. Dress appropriately for the weather.  Wear sturdy shoes and bright colors for working around the roadway. Please sign-in at the Tellico Ranger District Office from 7:00 to 8:30 a.m. and pick up your free event t-shirt while they last.  A hot dog lunch for participants will be at 11:15 at the hunters check-in station complements of the Chattanooga Trout Association. For more information contact the Tellico Ranger District Office 423-253-8400.

The Annual Tellico River Clean Up will be held on Saturday, March 11. Registration begins at 8 a.m. at the Tellico Ranger Station on the Tellico River Road (Forest Service Road 210). Participants should wear long pants, sturdy shoes, gloves, and a long-sleeve T-shirt or coat. Be prepared for inclement weather.

The Chattanooga Trout Association will be serving grilled hot dogs from 10:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at the North River Checking Station located on Tellico River just below Green Cove. In addition, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will be serving homemade chili and offering tours of Pheasant Field Fish Hatchery for participants.

The event is sponsored by the USDA Forest Service, TVA, Trout Unlimited, Chattanooga Trout Association, Keep Monroe County Beautiful, and TWRA. For more information, call the Tellico Ranger Station at 423-253-8400.

Missouri Anglers Prepare For March 1st Opener

leah kirk

Missouri Anglers Prepare For March 1st Opener.jpg

As winter winds down, anglers throughout the Show-Me State are beginning to show some signs of trout fever. Symptoms include: tying flies, putting new fishing line on reels, checking waders for holes, and practicing casting. Most anglers who get trout fever get rid of it by doing one thing — visiting one of Missouri's four trout parks to participate in the catch-and-keep trout season.

Thursday, March 1, marks the opening of catch-and-keep trout fishing at Bennett Spring State Park near Lebanon, Montauk State Park near Licking, Roaring River State Park near Cassville, and Maramec Spring Park near St. James. The catch-and-keep season at the trout parks runs through Oct. 31.

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) operates trout hatcheries at all four parks. To help predict angler turnout on opening day, hatchery staff rely on permit records going back more than 80 years. Montauk, Bennett Spring, and Roaring River hatchery staff expect crowds of about 2,000 anglers at each location, and Maramec Spring staff are planning for a crowd of about 1,000. Based on these predictions, hatchery staff will stock three trout per expected angler on opening day for a total of more than 21,000 fish averaging around a foot in length. The hatcheries will also stock a mix of "lunkers" ranging from three to 10 pounds.

"We have plenty of fish for this year's trout season," said MDC Fisheries Division Chief Brian Canaday.

Trout anglers will need a daily trout tag to fish in Missouri's trout parks. Daily trout tags can only be purchased at each of the four trout parks. Missouri residents 16 through 64 and nonresidents 16 and older need a fishing permit in addition to the daily tag.

Buy Missouri fishing permits from numerous vendors around the state, online at mdc.mo.gov/buypermits, or through MDC’s free mobile apps, MO Hunting and MO Fishing, available for download through Google Play for Android devices or the App Store for Apple devices.

Trout hatcheries are just one way that conservation pays in Missouri. MDC stocks more than 800,000 trout annually at the state's four trout parks and approximately 1.5 million annually statewide. Trout anglers' spend more than $100 million each year in the Show-Me-State, which generates more than $180 million in business activity, supports more than 2,300 jobs and creates more than $70 million dollars in wages. About 30 percent of Missouri trout anglers come from other states, so a substantial portion of trout fishing expenditures is "new money" for the state's economy.

French Broad River Fuel Spill Update

leah kirk

French Broad River Fuel Spill Update.jpg

State regulatory agencies say a kerosene spill in the French Broad River this week that effectively “closed” the river to all intended uses including boating and fishing, will result in citations to Mountain Energy, a bulk fuel facility.

The Asheville-Citizen Times reports authorities warn people to stay out of the French Broad River following Sunday’s spill in Asheville. North Carolina Division of Waste Management spokeswoman Laura Leonard says the oil spilled from an above-ground storage tank at the Mountain Energy Bulk Fuel Facility, around 100 feet from the river.

Asheville Fire Department spokeswoman Kelley Klope says the department patched the hole and placed salvage drums under the tank to contain the flow. Klope estimates 4,000 gallons spilled into the French Broad, while Leonard says the figure is closer to 1,000 gallons.

Virginia Brook Trout Relocation Project

leah kirk

Virginia Brook Trout Relocation Project.jpg

Shenandoah Headwaters Home Rivers Initiative manager for Trout Unlimited, Steve Reeser, district fisheries biologist for the Virginia DGIF and staff members have been working small creeks in the George Washington National Forest armed with electrofishing backpacks, nets, and buckets. The brook trout they were collecting didn’t mind the weather — they are used to cold and wet conditions. These particular brook trout were in for quite an experience on Wednesday, however. They were moving.

As part of a joint project among TU, DGIF and the USFS, these brook trout were being relocated to a stream about 15 miles away that had been identified as suitable brook trout habitat.

Every stream in the Shenandoah and George Washington national forests that meets the criteria for suitable brook trout habitat naturally contains fish. However, somewhere along the line, whether through the acts of man (timbering or mining) or possibly a natural event such as a major flood, brook trout had been extirpated from Passage Creek in Page County where these trout would be relocated.

Living in more than 400 streams throughout Virginia’s mountains, brook trout can be found in thousands of miles of water in Virginia. They need three things to survive: clean, clear and cold water throughout the year, suitable spawning habitat, and food.

Food is generally not the issue, as most streams contain enough macroinvertebrates and minnows to sustain brook trout. Too much silt is the limiting factor for spawning. Streams with enough slope and perennial flow to maintain a rocky bottom are ideal. Streams with ample elevation and shade can stay cold enough throughout the year to maintain brook trout populations.

This relocation project is a great example of the sort of partnership that is crucial for maintaining the native brook trout population, not only in Virginia but across its range. Trout Unlimited, the USFS and DGIF all play significant roles as part of the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture (a unique partnership among state and federal agencies, regional and local governments, businesses, conservation organizations, academia, scientific societies, and private citizens).

Coffman used EBTJV stream assessment data to identify the portion of Passage Creek that historically should have contained brook trout, but which had been devoid of them in recent history, at least until Wednesday.

“Most of the streams that have the potential for brook trout have them,” Coffman said.

Certainly some of the relocated trout suffered the normal stresses of moving this week, but they should be settled in soon, one hopes in time for the spawn next month and the opportunity to make their mark on a stream that was once their home and now will be again.

Breaking News: Whirling Disease Found In Watauga & SOHO Tailwaters

leah kirk

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Whirling disease was recently discovered by biologists during their annual trout population monitoring in the South Holston and Watauga tailwaters. The discovery is the first known occurrence of this disease in Tennessee.

Whirling disease, a condition caused by a non-native microscopic parasite, affects fish in the trout and salmon family, including rainbow, brook, and brown trout. This parasite can cause damage to the fish’s cartilage and skeletal tissue, resulting in deformities in the head and spine.  They may also develop a black tail, or display “whirling” or erratic tail-chasing behavior.

Although a diseased trout may not die directly from the parasite, it can affect the ability for them to swim, eat, and escape predators. Other organisms, such as humans, mammals, pets, or other fish like bass, catfish, and perch cannot become infected.

“So far, there has been no indication of negative impacts of whirling disease in the South Holston and Watauga tailwater trout populations,” said Sally Petre, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Region IV Trout biologist. “Although the infected trout were collected in the South Holston and Watauga tailwaters, the more immediate concern is the spread of whirling disease to areas that may be more vulnerable such as wild trout streams.”

Petre explains that those impacts can be dependent on water temperature, habitat, and the age and species of trout present.

“Brown trout rarely display symptoms associated with whirling disease unless heavily infested, while rainbow and brook trout, especially young fingerlings, are more susceptible to the effects of the parasite.”

TWRA biologists will begin collecting trout in tailwaters across the state and within the South Holston and Watauga watersheds to determine the current distribution of the non-native parasite and the prevalence of whirling disease. Annual routine testing currently indicate that all TWRA hatchery facilities are disease free. 

WV Seeks Anglers Help Writing New Trout Regs

leah kirk

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The West Virginia DNR officials want the new trout management plan to cater to the wishes of both stocked-trout and wild-trout anglers. Agency administrators hope to have the plan in place by 2019. State officials want to update the agency’s trout-management plan, so they’re asking anglers to let them know what they like and dislike about the way they do things. Jim Hedrick, the DNR’s acting head of fisheries, said the agency is taking a different approach from the way it has done business up to now.

“In the past, we’ve developed our plans first, before we put them out for public comment,” he explained. “We’re turning that around this time. We’re first going to ask anglers what they want, what they like and what they dislike about trout fishing; after that, we’ll attempt to develop management strategies based on what the anglers say.”

Why do you fish for trout?

What do you like about current trout-fishing opportunities or management strategies in West Virginia?

What about these opportunities are you dissatisfied with?

“We want to know what anglers are thinking,” Hedrick said. “This will be a comprehensive plan that will include both our stocked-trout and wild-trout fisheries. We want to hear from folks, from bait fishermen to fly fishermen.”

Currently, the best way to answer those questions is by email. Hedrick said emailed replies should be sent to wvtroutmanagement@wv.gov.

“We’re also working on a way that would allow people to comment through our website, www.wvdnr.gov,” he added. “We’re hoping to have that up very soon, because trout fishing really gets rolling after March 1. A lot of anglers are going to be out there. They’re going to be looking at our website, and they’re going to be thinking about trout fishing. We believe it’s a perfect time to roll this out.”

Hedrick said DNR officials also are trying to get a text-messaging number so anglers can comment using their cell phones.

People who prefer to answer the questions in person will be able to do so at the DNR’s sectional meetings, which will be held on March 12 in Fairmont, Lewisburg, Martinsburg, Milton, Spencer and Weston; and on March 13 in Beckley, Elkins, Glen Dale, Logan, Moorefield and Parkersburg.

“We’re going to have a special station [at those meetings] so we can introduce the trout management plan to the public and take their comments,” Hedrick said.

Alpharetta Outfitters' Intro to Fly Fishing Clinic

leah kirk

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Have you ever thought about trying your hand at flyfishing but didn't know where to begin? Alpharetta Outfitters is offering this free clinic Tuesday, Feb. 20th, 7-9pm. Their popular Flyfishing 101 clinic is the perfect opportunity to learn about this exciting and enjoyable sport! In this free two-hour clinic, you'll explore the basics of flyfishing:

 * What is fly fishing?

 * How do I cast a fly rod?

 * What kind of gear will I need?

 * What about flies...which ones do I need?

* Will I need waders and other accessories?

 * Where can I fish, and what will I catch?

This clinic is presented by the noted fly fishing teacher and author Steve Hudson. Steve has led fly fishing clinics from Alaska to Florida and has taught hundreds of people the art of fly fishing. He's also the author of more than 20 books, including the acclaimed "101" series of introductory fly fishing guides.

On Wednesday, February 21st, 6-9pm, Alpharetta Outfitters will host the Bugs and Suds, 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. No reservation required.

On February 23rd-24th, the AO will host the 2018 Southern Striper Open on Lake Lanier as a fundraising event for Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing in Georgia and South Carolina.  Captains Meeting and early check-in 6PM February 23rd at Alpharetta Outfitters (79 S Main Street, Alpharetta GA 30009) --Late check in at Tidwell boat ramp 5:30 AM - 7:30 AM --- Tournament starts first light - Noon February 24th -- Final weigh in @1PM at Twisted Oar restaurant with awards ceremony @1:30 pm (6900 Lanier Islands Pkwy, Buford, GA 30518) -Limit of 2 anglers per boat.  Contact Alpharetta Outfitters for exceptions. 1 angler per Kayak.

Fly Rod Chronicles' Curtis Fleming at Marabou Madness V

leah kirk

Marabou Madness V Fly Tying Event is being conducted by the Fayetteville, North Carolina program of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. on March 3 – 4, 2018 at the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission's Pechmann Fishing Education Center in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  For the past 4 years, the Marabou Madness event has provided the veteran participants of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) with an opportunity to come together and share information, stories, and fellowship with other fly anglers and veterans while taking part in one of their favorite past times.  This year, the group is pleased to welcome Curtis Fleming and the crew of the Fly Chronicles to film a show that will highlight PHWFF activities in the Fayetteville, NC area that provide healing benefit to our disabled veterans and the injured service members assigned to Fort Bragg.

During their visit, they will take some time to fish the Cape Fear River for American shad and Striped bass with disabled veteran participants of PHWFF and guide Capt. Jon Huff of Circle H Charters. Additionally, the group will learn about management and conservation efforts of shad and Striped bass conducted by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. Host Curtis Fleming will also visit Fort Bragg's Warrior Transition Battalion to learn about the unit's mission and the challenges facing soldiers during their recovery.

Fly Rod Chronicles is an award-winning, international fly fishing show. FRC uses fly fishing as a vehicle to take the viewer to some amazing places and tell stories about people, local culture (food, music, etc.) and highlight some of the best places in the country for travelers to visit and catch some amazing fish along the way.

Marabou Madness V attendees can also look forward to a special presentation from renown fly tier Charlie Craven, numerous fly-tying demonstrations, tying contests, fly-casting games, an exciting fishing derby hosted in the Pechmann Fishing Education Center ponds, and an awards ceremony to recognize veteran participants, volunteers, and supporters that make the PHWFF program possible in North Carolina.

To learn more about Marabou Madness V, please contact Tom Carpenter at tom.carpenter@projecthealingwaters.org or visit the Marabou Madness V event page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/201700637008920/

Fly Fishing River Issues At Tipping Point in Oklahoma

leah kirk

Fly Fishing River Issues At Tipping Point in Oklahoma.jpg

TULSA, Okla. — It's a cloudy, misty Sunday morning in January and Scott Hood called his catch as the fly fisherman stood in the clear, gently flowing water of the Lower Illinois River near Gore.

"Always cast to a rising fish," he said, as his line curled through the gray morning toward the water and his "fly that catches everything" – a wooly bugger variation – dropped gently near ripplets left by a rising rainbow trout.

"Come on, take it," he coached a trout he could feel playing with the fly as he retrieved his line bit by bit. The hiss of line springing taut between fish and fisherman as it whipped up out of the water soon followed, Hood's rod bowed and he said, "Ah, there he is."

Another one of countless rainbow trout Hood catches week after week on the river near Oklahoma's "Trout Capital," an hour's drive from Tulsa, came to his net and was released to play another day.

Winter is a "no worries" time – and a great time – for fishing the Lower Illinois River, Hood said. But for a guy with no worries, he sure has a lot on his mind lately, such as summertime on this river and how that time of year hurts the fish.

"In the winter, it doesn't matter as much. It's cold and the water has plenty of oxygen and the fish do fine," he said.

May through November, it's a whole other story. That's when the river suffocates in the heat. It gets thirsty but has no permission to drink. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is charged with managing the "conservation pool" behind Tenkiller Ferry Dam, and 100 percent of that water is allocated to public and private entities – 93 percent of it to Southwest Power Administration.

For the past several years, water to support the lower river was "borrowed" from the now-defunct Sequoyah Fuels utility company under the conditional approval of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, which ruled that if a municipal water company needed it instead, the arrangement would be canceled, the Tulsa World reported. That day has come and the river's clock is ticking on an 18- to 24-month deadline, Hood said.

Water for the Lower Illinois has spun through a legal, regulatory and financial morass for decades and, finally, this deadline may push it to a tipping point where a permanent solution must be found.  Hood, active in Oklahoma's Trout Unlimited Chapter 420 and on the national Trout Unlimited board of trustees, is among several who have sounded the alarm. He recently created a Facebook group, "Water For The Lower Illinois River," to inform and "rally the troops" should they be needed.

 

"We had about 700 people sign up the first week," he said.

State Rep. John Bennett and Sen. Mark Allen held a late-December meeting on the topic at Bennett's Sallisaw office that was attended by Hood, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation officials, Chris Horton of the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation and a congressional representative, Hood said.

Another meeting is planned for later this month at U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin's office with representatives of Sens. Jim Inhofe and James Lankford's offices coming, as well, according to Allen. The crux of the matter is that when the dam was built there was an oversight regarding the river that flows below Tenkiller Lake, past the town of Gore and into the Arkansas River. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offered to stock rainbow trout as a mitigation measure for damming the stream, but someone forgot, didn't bother or didn't realize that they needed to allocate water for the river, as well.

For many years, a leak through the dam provided enough water to help the trout get by most of the time. In 2008, that leak was fixed. Predictably, hot weather, low flow, and low oxygen levels led to a news-making fish kill of trout and native fish soon thereafter.

That's when the water "loan" was worked out. Since then, Wildlife Department biologists, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers technicians and Southwest Power officials have worked together, almost daily at times, to keep the river's fish alive in those worrisome summer months.

"That failure to dedicate water for the river has haunted us for years," said Barry Bolton, assistant chief of fisheries for the Wildlife Department.

It's not just the year-round trout fishing, but trophy striped bass and other fish, the riverside habitat and recreation in the area that rely on at least a minimal flow of water in the river, he said.

"There is an answer to this," Bolton said. "I know we can find something that works for hydropower and fish and wildlife and the community, and we can get that working and underway."

Sen. Allen said more than a $5 million annual impact to the community is at stake, and his constituents are well-grounded in their concerns.

The solution is tricky, however. A federal study, required for reallocation among the lake-water stakeholders, could cost millions and take years. The same goes for raising the conservation pool level in Tenkiller, which would need to rise another 18 inches or 2 feet, he said.

Arkansas solved a similar problem in the White River by raising the normal conservation pool level of Bull Shoals Reservoir 5 feet, but it took years and millions of dollars, Allen said.

"It takes an act of Congress," he said. "This time, we've got Chris Horton of the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation with us, too, and he's been through this in Arkansas with issues on the White River. We're just trying to keep this thing alive and find a permanent solution."

Another option is to work something out with Southwest Power as the majority water rights holder.

"The tricky thing is to work out something permanent in writing," Allen said.

Hood has been the state's No. 1 civilian activist on the Lower Illinois for years. He shakes his head at the regulatory and financial complexities that arose from a problem that – at first blush – seems so basic.

"The dam leaked for years and years and they never missed a generation day, nobody ever missed that water and they managed it," he said. "The logical thing is, in a way, to just let it leak again. When we had the fish kill, we spent the money, $800,000, for an airifier, a system that enhances the oxygen in the water, and a flow pipe to bypass the dam. The infrastructure is there if they can just be allowed to run it whenever it's needed to put water in the river, and it doesn't cost anyone anything. I mean, you just can't have a river without water."

Blue Ridge Trout Festival April 29

leah kirk

Last year's inaugural Blue Ridge Trout Fest & Outdoor Adventures event was a big success, and this year is expected to be bigger and better. A celebration of trout fishing and the magic of outdoor living and recreation in the Trout Capital of Georgia centers upon north Georgia when the Blue Ridge Trout Fest & Outdoor Adventures comes to the city of Blue Ridge the last weekend in April.

The event—showcased among the ridges, peaks and trout waters of the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains just 90 minutes north of Atlanta—casts special attention upon trout fishing in the cold-water streams and rivers of Fannin County, while reaching out to outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds who enjoy unlimited opportunities to participate locally in outdoor recreation in the southern reach of the Appalachian Mountains.

Blue Ridge Trout Fest & Outdoor Adventures opens on the evening of April 28 with the High County Boil, a special fundraising dinner hosted by Mercier Orchards. This evening will feature great food, drinks, a silent auction and live entertainment. Dinner includes a bowl of tasty seafood, meat, and vegetables that includes corn, potatoes, sausage, and shrimp. Your entree is accompanied with salad, crusty bread, iced tea, and dessert. A limited number of chicken dishes are available for those with seafood allergies. Dinner tickets must be pre-purchased by going to www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2723037.

On Saturday morning, April 29, at 10 a.m., Blue Ridge city park will transform into the Breakout Marketplace. Local outfitters and fishing guides, fishing gear and tackle reps, kayaks, hiking clubs, mountain bikers/cyclists, whitewater outfitters and an impressive list of local experts in all things outdoor gather from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Live music provides entertainment. Food and beverage vendors will be on hand, too, to satisfy every appetite.

Admission is $5 for adults, and children under 12 are free. For information about sponsorships, vendor applications, event details and more, please visit BlueRidgeTroutFest.com.

South Carolina Trout Catch and Release

leah kirk

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The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources hosted a public meeting on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, to seek input on a proposal to establish a special management zone on the lower Saluda River for coldwater trout.

Consideration is underway concerning the establishment of a catch-and-release-only zone between Interstate 26 and Stacey's Ledge on the lower Saluda River. This reach of the river contains unique habitat from which SCDNR has documented evidence of trout reproduction. SCDNR welcomes public input on this proposal.

The current regulation is no more than five total combined, per person, per day of brook, brown or rainbow trout. Only one fish can be greater than 16 inches. No bait or tackle restrictions. Fish must be landed with head and tail intact.

The proposed regulation would establish a special management zone for all coldwater trout. The special management zone would establish a catch-and-release-only zone between the eastbound lanes of Interstate 26 and Stacey's Ledge, an approximately 1.3-mile stretch of river. Regulations will remain unchanged in all other waters of the Lower Saluda River.

Breaking News: 2018 ST “Legends of the Fly” Hall of Fame

leah kirk

Last weekend the Atlanta Fly Fishing Show was the venue for the Southern Trout “Legends of the Fly” Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The event was well attended and the responses of all six recipients of the awards were very touching and heart felt. Master of Ceremonies, John Reinhardt, was at his best making the induction memorable.

Inductees were Dr. Jim Casada of Rockhill, SC; Roger Lowe of Waynesville, NC, Byron Begley of Townsend, TN; Kevin Howell of Pisgah, NC; Walter Babb of Sweetwater, TN; and Alen Baker of Charlotte, NC. The exploits and accomplishments of all six of these individuals have certainly paved the way for fly fishing in the South to be the art form that it now is.

In addition to the ST “Legend of the Fly” Hall of Fame induction, the 2017 winners of the TU Shootout received their new Thomas and Thomas fly rods. Winning TU Chapters were Hickory North Carolina, Appalachian (Chattanooga) and Blue Ridge Georgia.  Tradd Little, the fly tying prodigy from Greenville, South Carolina won the post event drawing for a new 8 Rivers Fly Rod “Cranberry” 5-wt fly rod.

Sponsors of the event were Sweetwater Brewing, Bryson City, North Carolina, 8 Rivers Fly Rod Company, Great Smoky Mountains Chapter of Trout Unlimited, the Fly Fishing Show, and the Georgia Council of Trout Unlimited and Southern Trout Magazine. Their generous support made the event possible.

We had Southern Trout Magazine were honored to present this event, and we congratulate the winner and thank the sponsors. The publication remains committed to telling the unique story of fly fishing in the South, and recognizing  otherwise overlooked contribution of so many who helped weave the story of our passion. In August the nominating process begin for the slate of candidates for the 2019 induction ceremony in Atlanta. 

America's First Forest

leah kirk

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An Emmy Award-winning film titled America’s First Forest: Carl Schenck and the Asheville Experiment tells the story of how Carl Schenck, a German forester, came to America in 1895 to manage the forests at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. In addition to restoring land, he established the country’s first forestry school and helped launch the American conservation movement.  

The film was produced by the Forest History Society (FHS) and Bonesteel Films, with support from the Forest Service, the Cradle of Forestry in America Interpretive Association, and the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area. It was based on Schenck's memoirs, which are housed at the FHS Archives and edited into the book Cradle of Forestry in America: The Biltmore Forest School, 1898-1913.

Beginner Fly Tying at MO’s Mark Twain Lake

leah kirk

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The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) will offer a free workshop on the basics of fly tying, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., March 3, at Mark Twain Lake near Perry. Anyone age 12 and older may register for this free clinic. Participants younger than 16 years old must be accompanied by an adult for the duration of the class.

This workshop will focus on teaching participants the equipment needed for tying flies.  Later in the class, participants will learn how to tie three flies that can be used in warm waters of northeast Missouri, as well as cool trout streams.

“A lot of people believe that fly fishing can only be done in Missouri’s trout parks or out west,” said MDC Angler Education Assistant Chelsea Clever. “However, there are a lot of fish species in northeast Missouri that can be fun to hook into with a fly rod. Bluegill and bass are a blast! This class will teach individuals how to tie several versatile flies that can be used here or in one of our trout parks.”

 

Learning to tie flies offers Missourians a way to enjoy the art of fishing by preparing gear for spring fishing trips. Fishing is a great way for everyone to have fun outdoors, learn about conservation, and make lasting memories together. Discover Nature Fishing programs help Missourians gain the skills and confidence to enjoy fishing opportunities on their own.

“I encourage anyone who has an interest in tying flies to take part in the class,” said Clever. “This class is a great way to see if this longtime tradition is right for you. If it is, this is an activity that can be passed on from generation to generation. Plus, it is very satisfying to see your hard work pay off when you catch that first fish.”

MDC will provide all necessary equipment, but participants should bring reading glasses if they use them and a pen or pencil to take notes if desired. This clinic will take place at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers M.W. Boudreaux Memorial Visitor Center, 21629 Missouri Highway J, north of Perry. Seating is limited for this workshop and participants must pre-register at the following link: mdc-event-web.s3licensing.com/Event/EventDetails/154008. For more information, call the MDC office in Hannibal at (573) 248-2530. Learn more about Discover Nature – Fishing programs at short.mdc.mo.gov/Z4y.

March 3- 4 Marabou Madness V in Fayetteville, NC

leah kirk

Marabou Madness V in Fayetteville, NC.jpg

January 19, 2018, Fayetteville, NC the Fayetteville, North Carolina program of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. will conduct Marabou Madness V Fly Tying Event on March 3 - 4, 2018 at the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission's Pechmann Fishing Education Center in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

               For the past 4 years, the Marabou Madness event has provided the veteran participants of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) with an opportunity to come together and share information, stories, and fellowship with other fly anglers and veterans while taking part in one of their favorite past times.  On Saturday, March 3, 2018, nearly 100 veteran participants from across the south will gather for Marabou Madness V.

               Each year, fly-fishing and fly-tying experts are invited to Marabou Madness to share their knowledge and experience with participants and to encourage them to further pursue and participate in the sport.  This year we are pleased to welcome world-renown fly-tier Charlie Craven to Marabou Madness.  Charlie will provide attendees with an instructional session and impart his knowledge in the field of fly tying.

               Additionally, attendees can look forward to numerous fly-tying demonstrations, tying contests, fly-casting games, an exciting fishing derby hosted in the Pechmann Fishing Education Center ponds, and an awards ceremony to recognize veteran participants, volunteers, and supporters that make the PHWFF program possible in North Carolina.

               Sponsors of the event include Otis Technology, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Jersey Mike’s, Mission BBQ, and Methodist University.  To learn more about Marabou Madness V, please contact Tom Carpenter at tom.carpenter@projecthealingwaters.org

White River Fly Fishing School

leah kirk

White River Fly Fishing School.jpg

Have you always wanted to learn to fly fish? Or improve the fly fishing skills you have? Or add new skills? You can read all the books and watch all the videos you like, but there’s no substitute for on-the-water instruction from a patient, helpful, experienced guide/instructor.  This fly fishing school will take your fishing to the next level, no matter how much experience you may have.

It will walk you through fly selection, reading the water and picking the prime spots, casting, and presentation — all while fishing one of the nation’s finest trout streams.  These trips are a great way for people of varying experience to enjoy fly fishing.  You will receive one-on-one casting instruction, not group instruction. Seasoned anglers can focus on improving already known techniques, while less experienced anglers can learn the skills on which to base a lifetime of fly fishing.

Fly Fishing School at a super affordable $495 for 2 1/2 days of instruction by Certified Casting Instructors and guides on the beautiful White River in the Ozark Mountains of north-central Arkansas. All instruction, lodging, and meals are included.

The IFFF-Southern Council’s 15th annual Fly Fishing School – April 6, 7, & 8, 2018  – has 12 – 14 spots available.  As of 1/4/2018:  Spots available, 14.  The School will be held at Riverside Retreat on the White River in Ozark Mountains of north-central Arkansas.

The focus is how to catch fish while fly fishing. In each session is divided between those new to fly fishing and those who have intermediate skills. Intermediate skills as those anglers who may have fly fished for 6 months up to many years but have limited casting skills, limited knowledge where feeding fish are located and are only comfortable with one or two methods of fly fishing. Even if you are an advanced angler you will learn new things because the truth is that life only offers you a limited time on the water. If the only time you can learn are those few precious moments your knowledge will be limited.

At the Fly Fishing School, you will be able to access the knowledge of guides who spend 200 plus days a year on the water.  These trips are a great way for people of varying experience to enjoy fly fishing.  You will receive one-on-one casting instruction, not group instruction. Seasoned anglers can focus on improving already known techniques, while less experienced anglers can learn the skills on which to base a lifetime of fly fishing.

What our Fly Fishing School doesn’t teach: Information like wading safety, basic fly rod and reel set-up, basic rigging and elementary information that the novice can learn in many places.   The focus is on how to catch fish while fly fishing.

What’s included in our Fly Fishing School:

Personalized, private instruction. Great Guide/Instructor to student ratio.  You will receive personal casting instruction directed at exactly what you require or request.  This is not a ‘cookie cutter’ experience. Between Friday 3 pm and Sunday 2:30 pm you will spend:

7 hours in classroom presentations learning fly fishing techniques and the how, when and why of fish habits in moving waters.

6 hours with FFI Certified Casting Instructors to teach you basic casting skills or improve and add to your current skill set.

7 plus hours of actual on-the-water time with your Guide/Instructor to help you fully understand and perform the fishing, casting and line control techniques taught in the classroom. During these guided fishing trips you will learn how and where to: catch fish on streamers, dry flies, nymphs, and wet flies while fishing rivers and streams.  You will be accompanied by a guide who is very qualified and will show you how to catch fish with each method. Guides will demonstrate and you will practice techniques taught earlier in the classroom.

Two nights lodging in the White River Lodge at Riverside Retreat, on the White River just south of Norfork, AR. All your meals (Friday evening through Sunday’s brunch) including a steak dinner cookout on Saturday night. They will furnish any gear you may need.  Just let them know in advance if you need a rod/reel or other gear. Bring your own if you have it, but if you need something, we can get just about anything for you, except waders.

`              To reserve, a 50% deposit is required. Full payment is required by March 5, 2018.  Reservations canceled 30 days in advance will receive a full refund less a $50 cancellation fee.  Reservations canceled inside of 30 days will forfeit all payments.

Reserve your spot, call 870 499-3056 and speak with Chris or Carol at Riverside Retreat. You can mail a check or use a Visa or MasterCard. In addition to this great value, Riverside Retreat will donate $100 for each Fly Fishing School attendee to Southern Council of Fly Fishers International for conservation efforts. 

The White River Lodge is 2,500 square feet and has 6 bedrooms; each bedroom has its own full private bath.  There are 2 fully furnished kitchens, 2 dining areas, 2 comfortable sitting/TV areas & wifi.  There is also an 8′ x 60′ front porch for outdoor seating.   The Lodge has plenty of common space to enjoy sitting and visiting with other guests, but your bedroom and bathroom will be private.  If 2 people who know each other, attend together, they will be roomed together. We have other lodging options available for an up-charge. Call for additional information – Chris Jackson  870 499-3056

Murray's Fly Shop’s On The Stream Trout Schools

leah kirk

Murray's Fly Shop’s On The Stream Trout Schools.jpg

Many years ago  Harry Murray started conducting "on the stream" schools in the Shenandoah National Park to help anglers better understand these beautiful native brook trout streams.  To this day, he finds this type fishing to be his favorite.  Murray trout school meet at Grave's Mountain Lodge in Syria, Virginia at 9 a.m. for a basic classroom presentation and overall discussion on fishing these streams.  After the classroom portion, each student follows Murray’s son, Jeff, who teaches the schools to a stream in the Shenandoah National Park for the "on the stream" portion of the school.

Here you will learn:

Casting and Knot Tying

How to Read the Water which includes: 1) identifying where the trout's feeding station is, 2) where to cast your fly so that it drifts naturally to the trout, and 3) how to position yourself accurately in order to get a natural presentation without scaring the fish.

Matching the Hatch--how to select the flies to duplicate the natural insects that are hatching on the stream at that specific time which changes as the season progresses.  For example, we use a Mr. Rapidan Dry to match a natural adult mayfly (Epeorus pleuralis).  All of these hatch charts are referenced in my book Trout Fishing in the Shenandoah National Park.

Tackle--How to correctly select the tackle that will help you effectively fish the mountain trout streams.  Examples:  rods, reels, fly lines, leaders, gadgets, and flies.

We keep our class sizes small so that each student has ample time with the instructor.  Approximate ratio 5 students to 1 instructor

Stream legal access points for the Shenandoah National Park streams--We have 3 maps geared especially toward the park streams that coincide with my 2 books:  Trout Fishing in the Shenandoah National Park and Virginia Blue Ribbon Streams.

These schools are filling up, so check your schedule and register soon.  $196 per person

2018 School Dates

Monday, April 9

Thursday, April 19

Thursday, April 26

Monday, April 30

Monday, May 7

Advanced School Dates

Friday, April 20

Friday, May 18

Table Rock Lake Freeze

leah kirk

Table Rock Lake Freeze.jpg

By David Casaletto, Ozarks Water Watch Executive Director

A couple of days with high temperatures in the single digits or teens and lows of -10 degrees at night can result in a frozen Table Rock Lake. I took the picture, below, last week from my backyard looking directly at Cape Fair on the James River arm of Table Rock Lake. There is snow on top of the ice.

I have been trying to remember how many times the lake has frozen over since we moved here in 1999. For sure in 2011 and there was a long freeze sometime around 2002. In 2011, I was able to walk out on the ice without it cracking or breaking, but I didn't get too far from shore! You can see from the footprints, others ventured a little farther out. That year there was ice all around the boat docks, but it didn't cause any damage to the flotation, at least not on our dock.

In 2002 (or close to then), the lake froze over for two or three weeks and the gizzard shad started dying and freezing in the ice around the shoreline. I found the above picture on the web, but that is just what it looked like all around the shoreline. I called the Department of Conservation and was told that shad are sensitive to cold temperatures and the freezing lake caused many of them to die off. 

 When the lake started to thaw, there were over 30 eagles in front of our house, on the ice, enjoying the easy meal. I wish I could find the picture I took of them, but this picture above is very close to what it looked like.