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Filtering by Category: News

New Trout Regs For White River and Norfork Tailwater

leah kirk

new trout regs on White & Norfork.jpg

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission heard the first reading of proposed changes to trout fishing regulations on the Bull Shoals and Norfork tailwaters to meet shifting perceptions and desires of anglers on those fisheries at today's meeting.


At a briefing held Wednesday, Christy Graham, AGFC Trout Program coordinator, explained the extensive public input process that went into the formation of these proposals.


“The regulations are only a part of our Bull Shoals and Norfork Tailwaters Fisheries Management Plans that are reviewed and adapted every few years,” Graham said. “This is a process that has gone on since 2004, and includes creel surveys, angler interviews, mail surveys and focus groups to determine what the fishing public wants out of these trout fisheries.”


Graham said the latest review of the plans included two public workshops in Mountain Home which were advertised via social media, online newsletters and radio ads. More than 100 participants attended the workshops to speak about changes they would like to see in the fishery. These responses were then combined with public input from mail-in surveys and creel surveys and compared to biological data to determine what regulations and management strategies would yield the best result of what is biologically sustainable and matches the public’s interests.


“We listed possible regulations and strategies at a second public meeting in late August where attendees were able to give input on which strategies were most acceptable,” Graham said. “We also reached out to all who attended the first meeting to attempt to get their input, whether they attended the second meeting or not.”


The following recommendations have been presented to the Commission for consideration:


Restrict the harvest of trout on Bull Shoals and Norfork tailwaters to five trout, but only one fish per day being longer than 14 inches.

Reduce the daily limit on cutthroat trout on Bull Shoals and Norfork tailwaters from two fish to one and increase the minimum length of cutthroats from 16 inches to 24 inches.

Reduce the daily limit on brook trout on Bull Shoals and Norfork tailwaters from two fish to one.

Enact a five-fish limit on rainbow trout with only one of those being longer than 14 inches.

Restrict the number of hooking points when using bait on Bull Shoals and Norfork tailwaters to a single hooking point.

Remove the Monkey Island Catch-and-Release Area on Bull Shoals Tailwater.

Extend the length of Rim Shoals Catch-and-Release Area approximately two miles downstream on Bull Shoals.

The Commission also heard the first reading of a proposed temporary commercial fishing season on Old River Lake in Pulaski County. The season would run from Dec. 1, 2017 through Feb. 28, 2018, and commercial anglers would need to receive a permit from the local fisheries biologist to participate. The goal of the season is to reduce the abundant rough fish in the lake, such as buffalo and gar, to reduce competition for space and resources with sport fish populations in the lake.


The trout and commercial fishing season regulations are available for public comment on a survey at


The Commission will hold a special meeting with a tentative date of Nov. 21, to review public comments and vote on these proposed regulations.

Recognized Dean Smith, Natural Resources Program Technician at the AGFC’s Joe Hogan State Fish Hatchery in Lonoke, for his recent recognition as the Fisheries Division Technical Employee of the Year.

Approved the removal of outdated and obsolete inventory with an original cost of $349,911 and a current net book value of $20,470.

Recognized 20 employees with a total of 200 years of service for their commitment to the people and natural resources of Arkansas.

The Fish Hawk Celebrating Delayed Harvest

leah kirk

fish hawk.jpg

In celebration of the opening of our Delayed Harvest Trout Streams in GA, NC and TN, The Fish Hawk will be offering a special discounted price on standard trout flies when purchased by the dozen.


Now until November 25, 2017

Standard Trout Flies – Regular $27 per dozen

Special - $16 per dozen (in store purchase only)


GA Streams-

Chattahoochee River, Chattooga River, Toccoa River, Amicalola Creek and Smith Creek. (more information available at harvest-streams-open-nov-1)

TN Streams-

Hiwassee River (Polk County), Piney River (Rhea County), Paint Creek (Green County), Tellico River (Monroe County), Gatlinburg Trout streams (Sevier County): West Prong Little River, Dudley Creek, Roaring Fork, Leconte Creek (more information available at

NC Streams-

Tuckaseegee River, Nantahala River, Fires Creek, Big Snowbird Creek and a whole lot more on the map in this link - Waters-Stocking-Dates-Map.pdf764 Miami Cir Ste 126 Atlanta, GA 30324 (404)237-3473

2017 F3T FILM TOUR at Salt Block Museum

leah kirk

2017 F3T FILM TOUR will at the Salt Block Museum, this Monday, October 23.  The program will begin at 5:30 PM with hors d'oeuvres and drinks.  During this time you will be able to plan your strategy and make your bid for numerous fly fishing gear, art, guided trips, etc. that are part of our silent auction. All bids must be entered by 7:00 PM when we move to the Drendel Auditorium for the movie.  The movie this year is the 11th annual 2017 Fly Fishing Film Tour. (F3T).  The F3T is a series of eight short films of fly fishing adventures around the world from salmon in Kamchatka, to trout in Montana, to striped bass along the US east coast.  There will be an intermission half way through the movie when the silent auction winners will be announced and door prizes will be awarded.

                All bids must be entered by 7:00 PM when we move to the Drendel Auditorium for the movie.  The movie this year is the 11th annual 2017 Fly Fishing Film Tour. (F3T).  The F3T is a series of eight short films of fly fishing adventures around the world from salmon in Kamchatka, to trout in Montana, to striped bass along the US east coast.  There will be an intermission half way through the movie when the silent auction winners will be announced and door prizes will be awarded.

TV Blamed For Smokies Ginseng Poaching Increase

leah kirk

Ginseng poaching in the national park is nothing new, but rangers in the Smokies say the problem is different these days due to popular television shows and the drug epidemic.


Forgive Steve Kloster if he feels a sensation of de ja vu when discussing ginseng. The chief ranger at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been repeating himself about the poached plant for around 30 years.

"I started working in the Smokies in the late 1980s and the message has not changed. There are times of year when you can legally gather wild ginseng if you are not inside the park. But It is always illegal to take any type of plants out of the national park," said Kloster.

Kloster’s message has remained consistent during his long career. What has changed through the years is the ever-rising price of the ginseng plant and the various motives that drive poachers to steal the root from the Smokies. He blames some of the recent surge in park poachers on reality television programs.

"We’ve got these new reality TV shows out there glorifying and dramatizing going out and digging ginseng. Someone is sitting at home watching these shows and thinks they can go dig ginseng to make a quick buck," said Kloster.

"Not everyone, but a lot more people we’re arresting have drugs (on them). Right now, that includes a lot of heroin, pills, and marijuana. They’re trying to make a quick buck so they can go buy their drugs. In the late 1980s, I saw very little of that," said Kloster.

In Tennessee, wild ginseng harvesting is allowed from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31. Licensed dealers are allowed to buy green ginseng roots from Sept. 1 through March 31 and dried roots from Sept. 15. There is money to be made on ginseng because the root is craved by people on the other side of the world. The Chinese are said to prefer wild ginseng from the rich soils of Appalachia due to its strong flavor.

"The Chinese use ginseng root as a cure-all. They make tea from it. They also use it for energy boost, health tonic, aphrodisiac, and so on. And they want the wild stuff. There are ginseng farms that grow it in Wisconsin, but what they really crave is the wild ginseng," said Kloster. "It takes a long time for ginseng to reproduce. It takes several years for the seeds to germinate and then to grow into a mature plant. In the state of Tennessee, ginseng is a species of concern because it is commercially exploited."

The state of Tennessee licenses ginseng dealers. Kloster said the dealers pay hunters anywhere from $300 to $900 for a pound of the roots, depending on the supply as well as if the roots are wet or dry. Outside the national park, some families have been digging ginseng for generations and were raised to harvest it responsibly and legally. Conscientious hunters gather ginseng in late September and October and only take mature plants with stems that have at least three prongs. They also only dig for ginseng when all the plant’s berries are red and ripe, so they can be buried in the ground where a root was harvested to keep the crop coming back in the future.

Ginseng is hardly the only plant illegally taken from the national park. Rangers also fight the commercial exploitation of wildflowers, moss, and mushrooms. Earlier this summer, rangers caught a man on the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains with a load of hundreds of large reishi mushrooms cut from the trees of the park. Punishment for poachers can include large fines, restitution, and incarceration. In recent years, some judges in North Carolina have sentenced repeat-offenders to several months in jail for poaching ginseng.

GSMNP Closure Update

leah kirk

GSMNP Closure Update.jpg

Roads and Facilities

Temporary Closures and Construction Projects
Follow road status at or subscribe to receive text message updates by texting "follow smokiesroadsnps" to 40404.

  • Clingmans Dome Tower is closed for rehabilitation.
  • Parsons Branch
  • Foothills Parkway (unfinished section) - the entire unfinished section between Walland and Wears Valley is now closed to all public use until 2018 due to construction.
  • Blue Ridge Parkway - for information about parkway closures, please call (828) 298-0398 or visit the parkway's website at

Seasonal Closures
For information about seasonal closures, including Clingmans Dome, Rich Mountain Road, Parson Branch Road, and others during the winter months, please see:
Seasonal Road Closures 
Seasonal Facility Closures

Backcountry Facilities

For current backcountry trail and campsite information, please call (865) 436-1297.

Bear Closures - areas that are closed due to bear activity. Please read What Do I Do If I See A Bear? for important safety information about bears.

  • Cosby Knob Shelters
  • Sites #17, #19, #21, #28, #34, #35, #36, #37, #90, and #92

Bear Warnings - areas where bears are active. Please read What Do I Do If I See A Bear? for important safety information about bears.

  • Russell Field and Mt. LeConte Shelters
  • Sites #20, #24, #66, and #113
  • The Boulevard, Middle Prong and Little River Trails

Other Backcountry Closures and Warnings

  • The Appalachian Trail between Low Gap and Cosby Knob Shelter is closed to horse traffic until further notice due to a compromised retaining wall. It remains open to hikers at this time but they are advised to exercise caution when passing through this section.
  • Rainbow Falls Trail is closed May 8 - November 16, 2017 Monday 7:00am through Thursday 5:30pm weekly for trail maintenance.
  • The following trails are closed due to fire or storm damage until further notice: Sugarland Mountain Trail from Mt Collins Shelter to the junction with Huskey Gap Trail and Bull Head Trail.
  • Scott Mountain Trail is closed from campsite #6 to Schoolhouse Gap. Campsite #6 is open.
  • Backcountry Campsite #11 is closed.

Trail Cautions
Please note that the park's backcountry is managed as a natural area where the forces of nature determine trail conditions. The following list includes some conditions that the park is currently aware of. However, hikers may encounter trail conditions not listed below that require caution. Be prepared for swollen streams, bridge washouts, downed trees, and trail erosion when hiking in the park's backcountry.

  • Cosby Nature Trail was impacted by flash flood, resulting in a bridge being washed out. While the trail remains open, hikers need to be prepared to ford the stream.
  • Rabbit Creek Trail - the bridge where the trail crosses Abrams Creek is out. This is a wide crossing that may be deep during high water events.
  • Boogerman/Caldwell Fork trails - several bridges are out. No schedule for repairs at this time. Trails are open, but hikers need to be prepared to ford the streams.
  • Enloe Creek Trail - the footbridge crossing Enloe Creek has washed out. The steel bridge crossing Raven Fork is not affected.
  • Trails throughout the park have downed trees due to severe storms. Please see the list of closed trails above. Other trails may have areas that are difficult to negotiate due to downed trees.
  • Boat shuttles to and from Hazel Creek when lake levels are low are from the Ollie Cove Trailhead on the Hazel Creek embayment. Ask the shuttle service about this when making a reservation to be dropped or picked up. This is due to a bridge that is out of service on Hazel Creek and adds about 1/2 mile to the hike. Trail signs are in place to direct you from the Hazel Creek Trail and Lakeshore Trail intersection to Ollie Cove Trail that is one mile east on Lakeshore Trail from Hazel Creek.

Cave and Mine Shaft Closure
Entry into all caves and mine shafts is prohibited due to concerns about the spread of white nose syndrome among bats.

Trout Stocked In SE Missouri Lakes

leah kirk

Trout Stocked In SE Missouri Lakes.jpg

CAPE GIRARDEAU – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is continuing the annual winter trout program in southeast Missouri, stocking rainbow trout in Perryville’s Legion Lake, Jackson’s Rotary Lake and Farmington’s Giessing Lake.

Legion Lake will receive 3,760 rainbow trout, Rotary Lake will receive 1,900 and another 1,200 will be stocked in Giessing Lake.  In addition, each lake will receive a number of ‘lunkers’. The cities of Jackson, Farmington, Perryville, as well as Perry County, the Perry County Sportsmen’s Club and the Missouri Department of Conservation, purchased the trout to be stocked. 

The annual winter trout fishing program begins Nov. 1, marking the opening of Missouri’s winter trout season in lakes around the state.  Anglers can fish for this popular cold-water fish through the fall and winter months on a catch-and-release basis. Anglers may harvest trout as of Feb. 1, 2018.  Rainbow trout are cold-water fish which live in water temperatures less than 70 degrees.  They do well in local impoundments during the colder months. 

Paul Cieslewicz, MDC fisheries management biologist, 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,” Cieslewicz said. “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. 

Light line and tackle will typically produce more fish than heavier tackle.  Successful anglers typically use two to six 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.

For more information about trout stocking in southeast Missouri, contact MDC’s Southeast Regional Office in Cape Girardeau at (573) 290-5730. For more information about fishing in Missouri, go online to

Oklahoma Fly-fishing Classes Filling Up

leah kirk

okie fly-fish-lmf-river_large.jpg

Learning different fishing techniques can offer more than just a new experience but add a challenge to the sport. While fly fishing is probably one of the most artistic forms of fishing, the photos of fly fisherman wading through a stream in a setting that seems to be out of a movie continues to garner attention. While the stereotype of fly fishing a stream in the mountains may never go away, it can't be overlooked that many anglers enjoy fly fishing in all kinds of bodies of water across the state. The sport provides a challenge for anglers of all skill levels.

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation through the Aquatic Resources Education Program will be hosting free fly fishing classes this fall and into early 2018. These classes offer a brief education session that covers the basics of fly fishing and the gear someone might need. Following the educational portion of the class, participants will have a hands-on opportunity to learn the art of casting a fly and an opportunity to test these skills on the water.

"This class is a great opportunity for anyone that has been interested in getting into the sport of fly fishing," said Daniel Griffith, Aquatic Resources Education Program coordinator for the Wildlife Department. "All equipment and gear will be provided during the class so participants don't need to worry about purchasing any equipment to attend." Participants will also be exempt from purchasing a fishing license during the class.

Classes will be held at the Department's Arcadia Conservation Education Area on the south end of Lake Arcadia in Edmond. The class schedule is:

9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017.

9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017.

9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Mar. 17, 2018.

9 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 7, 2018.

Online registration is required for the free classes, and class sizes will be limited. Those who register will receive a confirmation with details on the location of the class. To register, go to For more information, e-mail Griffith at

Fires Creek Conservation Project Needs $25,000

leah kirk

A $500,000 pledge has brought Mainspring Conservation Trust within sight of the finish line to conserving 50 acres of private property in Cherokee and Clay counties, but the nonprofit still needs to raise $25,000 to seal the deal before the contract’s expiration in mid-November.

fires creek needs $25,000.jpg

Fred and Alice Stanback, North Carolina’s leading environmental donors, made the donation. The additional $25,000 will pay for transaction and maintenance costs.  The land in question is located along Laurel Creek, a tributary of Fires Creek, and is surrounded by national forest land. Fires Creek is designated as an Outstanding Resource Water. Mainspring plans to hold the property before eventually transferring it to U.S. Forest Service ownership. A donation portal is online at, with an option to designate gifts for the Fires Creek project. 828.837.6383.

Leave Peeping at the Shenandoah

leah kirk

It’s not exactly what you would call riotous yet, but Shenandoah National Park is getting there. Day by day, tree by tree, this beloved national park is becoming the mosaic of color we’ve been waiting for all year. Some areas of the Park are more colorful than others – and this will continue to be the case – but expect to see plenty of autumn drama as you drive from Front Royal at mile 0 all the way down to Rockfish Gap at mile 105. The happy little maple that oversees Meadow Spring Parking at mile 33.5 is a swirl of cherry, orange, and lime, like a snow cone for a child who couldn’t decide on just one flavor. And sumacs are funny things. You might find a patch of the tropical-looking plants still green as poison growing right beside their brothers and sisters who have turned every color except green – poinsettia red, butternut orange, Golden Delicious yellow. A patch of sumacs at Spitler Knoll Overlook (mile 48) is especially dramatic, exhibiting just about every possible hue, like feather boas on Mardi Gras revelers.

Swift Run Gap is alive with chromatic splendor. A rogue maple just north of the Gap looks like an open box of Crayolas – Red Orange, Scarlet, Burnt Orange, Mango Tango, Sunglow, and tiny polka dots of Electric Lime. A dogwood just south of the turnoff for route 33 displays every color there ever was in the palette of red. Pulling off at Bacon Hollow Overlook at mile 68.9 on a foggy afternoon provided a Halloween vignette of grays, silvers, and blacks: crows flapping around and landing in a dead snag cawed haughtily, perfectly aware that they own the joint. "Keep moving," they croaked. "You have no jurisdiction here." Fog comes and goes, though; by Rocky Mount Overlook just two miles south, the fog was lifting and revealing south-facing mountainsides just beginning to turn maize and pumpkin. Hickories and birches, especially in the Park’s South District, glow golden-orange, one and two trees at a time, little fires of color in the forest.

A single phosphorescent yellow evening primrose hangs on fiercely on the west side of the Drive near mile 85. The scene-stealer this week, though, is sassafras. Sassafras trees, like sumacs, are the mood rings of the Appalachian woods. In the Park this week you can see the whole gamut of sassafras shades – single trees glittering jewel-tones of both crimson and green, startling as mangoes in every stage of ripeness, or dressing themselves in classic monotones like auburn, paprika, and Velveeta orange. A sassafras near Calf Mountain Overlook seven miles from Skyline Drive’s southern end glowed a luminous light red, like a glass of Pinot Noir on the Thanksgiving table.

Some of the best colors right now are between mile 23, near Mathews Arm and Elkwallow, south to Swift Run Gap, at mile 65.5. Here and there, hickories blaze golden yellow, the color of ripe mangoes. Thornton Gap is turning candy-corn colors branch by branch, tree by tree. The Stony Man area around mile 38 is starting to show its colorful side and should be even splashier this weekend. You might remember that last week old Stony Man got himself a henna rinse. Well, this week the old fellow seems to have gone back to the salon for streaks of paprika, cumin, and saffron.

Big Meadows is layered streaks of spice tones – sand art in a huge shallow glass bowl. Driving through the section of Skyline Drive around Lewis Mountain at mile 57 is like walking down the aisle of a cathedral with stained-glass windows in marigold tones. Swift Run Gap is dabbed with yellow and pops of red. Bearfence Trail is gorgeous, flaunting a mix of goldenrod, purple asters, and yellow foliage. A maple at Naked Creek Overlook blazes vermilion against a sea of lime green and lemon yellow.

But dryness is having an impact. Dryness like Shenandoah is experiencing now stresses trees, and their leaf colors exhibit that stress; some trees may shed their leaves before they have a chance to turn the vivid colors that back in early September they wanted to turn. We’re hoping for rain later in the weekend. That hoped-for rain could still resuscitate the colors of some trees.

Please know that this fall color report is not analytic, nor is it meant to be. If you prefer science over abstraction, you’ve got a friend in the Smoky Mountains Fall Foliage Prediction Map, at

Team Effort Stocking at Haywood County’s Pigeon River

leah kirk

by Holly Kays

A pair of fish culturists from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission stands atop the truck as a line of bucket-bearers forms leading up to it, and the work begins. Each bucket received a splash of water and a dollop of flipping, fighting trout — rainbow, brown and brook all mixed together in one writhing mass.

There’s a splash zone around the truck as the trout fling sprinkles of water on their way into the buckets, occasionally protesting the transfer successfully enough to fling themselves away from the bucket and onto the ground, where bucket brigade members promptly grab the twisting creatures and replace them in the water-filled buckets, where they can breathe once more.

It’s trout stocking season in Western North Carolina, and the Wildlife Commission truck held 1,425 pounds — 2,400 individual fish — of trout to go in the West Fork Pigeon River upstream of Lake Logan near the Burnett Siding Baptist Church and Cold Mountain Shooting Range. The shipment is one of many that the Wildlife Commission will make over the course of the coming spring and fall to boost the success of anglers in these Delayed Harvest waters. Last year, the Wildlife Commission stocked 240,000 pounds of fish in the WNC counties covered by the Bobby N. Setzer Fish Hatchery in Brevard — the area includes all of District 9 from Buncombe and Polk counties west, as well as a few bodies of water in adjoining District 8.

“What this does is it makes the fishing experience so much better,” said Ron Gaddy, a member of the Trout Unlimited Cataloochee Chapter organizing the bucket brigade. “It’s not just about fishing. It’s about our economy.”

Anglers will travel a long way to cast their lines in premier trout waters, and when they do they spend money on fishing supplies, meals out, hotel rooms and a thousand other things. A study released this year found that 149,000 trout anglers fished 1.6 million days in North Carolina during 2014, contributing $383 million to the state’s economy. The western counties contain some of the best trout fishing in the Southeast, and when chances of success go up — as is the case when waters are stocked — so does the attractiveness to out-of-town anglers.

The stretch of the Pigeon River that was stocked last week is designated as a Delayed Harvest waterway, meaning that anglers are allowed to keep their catch only during the summer months from June 1 to Oct. 1. The rest of the year, the river is catch-and-release only in order to keep the waters from being depleted too quickly. However, Gaddy said, he and many other trout anglers would like to see some waters in Haywood County designated as catch-and-release only all year long.

“Other counties have made designated waters catch-and-release year-round,” he said. “That would provide better fishing through the winter months.”

Jackson, Buncombe, Burke, McDowell, Watauga, Avery, Transylvania, Ashe and Yancey counties all have waters with this designation. For some of those gathered that Friday, however, the event was about more than improving angler success. It was a chance to see fish up close and to experience the beauty of Haywood County’s mountains firsthand.

According to TU Cataloochee President Tom Thomas, this hands-on stocking method is a more fish-friendly way to get the fish in the river than dumping them all out in one spot. The buckets allow the fish to be distributed throughout the river, increasing their chance of survival once released. And with 32 volunteers, the boost in manpower is a big help to the Wildlife Commission. The Oct. 6 stocking drew a record number of volunteers, more than double the typical number of 15 or so — Thomas attributed the heightened interest to exposure in publications such as The Smoky Mountain News.

Eventually, the stock truck emptied out and there was no more work to be done. But that doesn’t mean everyone turned around and went home. Many of the 32 people who had come to help had also come to fish.

Learn to Gig Like a Champ

leah kirk

missouri Gigging time.JPG

The program, provided in partnership with the Missouri Department of Conservation, is titled “Gigs and Ghosts”, and will start at 4 pm on the lower landing at Round Spring. National Park Service rangers and MDC staff invite everyone to gather around a gravel bar campfire for a program on the history of gigging, an overview of modern-day techniques and safety, as well as storytelling around the fire.

The program will also include an opportunity to gig fish on the Current River under the guidance of MDC conservation agents. All giggers should possess a valid Missouri fishing license. The program is free, and the public is welcome to attend. Participants should dress warmly, and come prepared for enjoying the river and gravel bar after dark. Flashlights and folding lawn chairs are recommended.  Ozark National Scenic Riverways will host an instructional gigging program at Round Spring on Saturday, October 21

Those who would like to try their hand at gigging should contact Twin Pines Conservation Education Center at 573-325-1381 to reserve a spot and receive additional information.

See you at the NC State Fair

leah kirk

The NC Wildlife Resources Commission’s State Fair exhibit is located between the Old Farm Machinery Building and the Children's Barnyard, across from the Village of Yesteryear. This year's exhibit will feature the Commission’s game land program and prescribed burning. The exhibit will showcase the techniques and benefits of prescribed fire on Commission-owned public game lands. Attendees can learn about the various species that thrive in habitats that have been improved by prescribed fire, including wild turkey and a host of songbirds. Be sure to learn about all the fun outdoor activities that are available on the Commission’s public game lands, including hunting, hiking, nature photography, bird watching, horseback riding and more.

This year’s State Fair wildlife button, a favorite collectible for fair attendees since 1981, will feature the Henslow’s sparrow. One of the rarest in the nation, this sparrow is a species of special concern in North Carolina. These small songbirds prefer to make their nests near grasslands among dead weeds and shrubs. Though they typically breed in northeastern states, Henslow’s sparrows can be seen nesting at the Commission’s newly-acquired Voice of America Game Land in Beaufort County.

As always, visitors of all ages can practice their aim at the pellet gun range and learn about firearms safety from Wildlife Enforcement Officers. Also be sure to stock up for holiday gift-giving at the on-site Wild Store with new baseball cap and tee-shirt designs, along with the 2018 Wildlife Calendar and Wildlife in North Carolina magazine subscriptions.

As part of celebrating the 70th year of the Wildlife Resources Commission, be sure to register for your chance to win a fishing trip courtesy of Carolina Outdoor Journal host Joe Albea! The winner will have their choice of three different excursions: River fly fishing for striped bass with Capt. Mitchell Blake, Piedmont lake fishing with Capt. Greg Griffin, or a mountain river float trip for trout with Ollie Smith. The exhibit will be open from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. daily, except Thursday, Oct. 12, when the exhibit opens at 3 p.m. All activities are free.

WNC Fly Fishing Expo in December

leah kirk

“We here at WNC Fly Fishing Expo are looking forward to serving you at here in December. A great schedule of speakers and demonstrations is coming together,” says Alan Kirkpatrick the Director of the WNC Fly Fishing Expo. Reba Brinkman has handed off the reins to him after eight years of creating an excellent event for the fly-fishing community. “Big thanks to Reba; I wish her all the best in her new ventures.”

                Kirkpatrick comes to this position with a wealth of experience in professional events management and a passion for fly fishing. He’s looking forward to working with to continue putting on an event which creates value for businesses and continues to strengthen the fly fishing community in Western North Carolina.

                The 2017 Expo will take place on Dec. 1st and 2nd at the WNC Agricultural Center on Friday, December 1st from 12:00 noon to 7:00 pm and Sat Dec. 2nd from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.

“We've added several elements to increase the number of visitors including casting instruction available at all times, a kids activity area, a both dedicated to getting kids started in fly fishing and a beginners resource booth (which will highlight the location of all fly shop and guide services booths)” Kirkpatrick said.

Currently, there are four goals Kirkpatrick has for the 2017 expo.

1.       To increase the value created for exhibitors by the expo.

2.       To improve the quality of the expo experience for exhibitors and paying visitors.

3.       To increase the number of paying visitors at the expo.

4.       To hear any thoughts or ideas attendees may have to help accomplish these goals.

Kirkpatrick says, “If you are a potential vendor for the gigantic North Carolina fly fishing show, now is the time to register your booth. If you have not already done so, please reply and confirm your participation ASAP.”

                Booths at the Expo will again cost $500 minus a $50 discount if you register prior to October 1st. Register by emailing your name, business name and how many booths you want. Kirkpatrick will follow up with payment instructions later. “Please connect with anyone you think might be interested in exhibiting at the expo that has not participated before. I will be adding a limited number of outdoor industry-related exhibitors that fly fishers will be interested in,” said Kirkpatrick.

For more contact Alan Kirkpatrick, WNC Fly Fishing Expo or by cell phone at (828) 712-7774

Rough River Lake to Temporarily Halt Outflow

leah kirk

rough river.jpg

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 12, 2017) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to temporarily halt the outflow from Rough River Lake beginning Sept. 18 to assess theimpacts that could occur during planned future repairs to the dam’s outlet works. The stoppage will last up to three consecutive days.

Corps officials say a smaller dam located 7 miles downstream should prevent the tailwater from going completely dry. Dam repairs have been underway for the past several years. The shutdown is a continuation of those efforts to make the dam safe for today and the immediate future, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Louisville District. High rainfall conditions could alter the timing of the shutdown.

Work on the dam’s outlet works will likely occur sometime between fall 2018 and early winter 2019. Engineers will have a better idea of how to facilitate outlet works repairs once the upcoming assessment is complete. Rough River Lake is a 5,100-acre reservoir located in Breckinridge, Hardin and Grayson counties. Construction of the 135-foot-high earthen dam at Rough River was completed in 1960. Boating and fishing on the lake will not be affected by the temporary stoppage of the outflow.

Stone Creek Getting Help

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CRANE, Mo. – A unique fish population and a Stone County road in need of a better bridge have become entwined in a recently completed construction project that will benefit both. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and Stone County officials have completed work on a bridge construction project that will improve conditions for local drivers and also provide better habitat for Crane Creek’s self-sustaining rainbow trout population. A clear-span bridge has been built where Roundhouse Road crosses Crane Creek on the Wire Road Conservation Area. This project, which replaced a bridge that was in need of significant repairs, was financed, in part, through the Stream Stewardship Trust Fund.

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Crane Creek is one of the few streams in Missouri that features a self-sustaining rainbow trout population. (Most of the state’s trout areas receive stockings from hatcheries.) Because of this unique population, MDC has designated the upper eight miles of Crane Creek as a priority watershed and a Blue Ribbon Trout Area (the agency also has Red Ribbon and White Ribbon trout areas).

Because of the stream’s special status, the bridge project was eligible for financial assistance from the Stream Stewardship Trust Fund. This fund, which is administrated through the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation, provides money to restore, enhance, and protect stream systems and associated habitats.

In the case of the Roundhouse Road Bridge, the clear-span bridge features a natural stream bottom that is replacing the box culvert which had a concrete bottom. The natural bottom will improve the passage of rainbow trout and other aquatic organisms. Drivers will also benefit because this bridge design allows for greater stream flow than the previous box culvert design and, thus, will reduce flooding problems.

The cost of the project, which began in mid-July and was completed earlier this month, was approximately $240,000. This project is the latest example of a long-standing partnership between MDC and Stone County. In 2006, MDC and the county worked together and used Stream Stewardship Trust Fund money to replace a bridge over Crane Creek at Doc Eaten Road.

Stella Bowles: One Person Does Make

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The above headline is from a story in the July 2017 Onsite Installer magazine. It tells the story of Stella Bowles and her work to upgrade wastewater systems along a Nova Scotia river. It should inspire all of us who work in the onsite wastewater industry.

The article directs you to Stella's website where she tells her story, both in print and in a YouTube video. As is the case in many locations, most people agree there is a problem with failing and polluting septic systems, but the difficulty is getting a consensus on how to fix the problem and to agree to spend the needed money.

Stella's passion for clean water started when the family's septic system leachfield failed a few years ago. The family hired an installer for the new system right away, borrowing money to pay for it. The new septic system was installed and working fine, but Stella never forgot listening in on the conversation with the system engineer talking about the straight pipes. It seems neighbors were continuing to use straight pipes to convey their waste directly in the river, which has been illegal since 1974. Stella was deeply troubled with the image of homeowners, in essence, relieving themselves directly into the river. She became determined to do something about the straight pipes.


Stella started sampling water up and down the river for fecal bacteria levels, setting up a lab in her basement and publishing findings and other information on her science project website. The results showed that at many times and in many locations the water in the river is not safe for swimming or even touching. There are an estimated 600 straight pipes dumping into the LaHave River in the local stretch where Stella lives. Stella reports that she can sometimes smell the human waste at low tide and has found used toilet paper during her testing. She is advocating for the provincial government to close loopholes that allow straight pipes to continue to flow. She's asked legislators to force upgrades to approved septic systems when properties are sold.

Local officials are on board, and a grant and loan program has been approved to help homeowners pay for the upgrades. But the provincial government is needed for enforcement and officials have yet to get on board. A letter to Stella from Nova Scotia Environment said legislation to eliminate straight pipes "was not supported due to the potential impact on the sale of properties."

But Stella's hard work - combined with the efforts of scientists, environmentalists and onsite industry leaders - hopefully will eventually tip the scales and force the dismantling of straight pipes on the LaHave and other threatened waterways. Stella said, "I'm going to keep going until the straight pipes are gone. I definitely want to be able to swim in the river. Hopefully it will be clean enough by the time I have children, because it's a beautiful spot." I wish Stella's story was an isolated incident, but we have failing and polluting septic systems all around us - I have seen many in my 17-year career. Unfortunately, we may need an army of Stellas to get us off our backsides and do something about it.

Chattahoochee River 2nd Annual Tourney

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It's time for the second annual 2017 Quality Catch and Sweet Release Tournament presented by The ORVIS Company and Sweetwater Brewing Company. Last year the tournament took place in May 2016 and the winner was Ryan Johnson with an impressive 31-inch brown beast runners up ranged from 16-inch to 23-inch.  This year the fly fishing tournament will be during the entire month of October 2017. All the monies raised from the tournament will be donated to the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper for monitoring water quality. River Through Atlanta Guide Service will be offering a special deal for participants with a flat rate of $300.00 for a six hour drift boat float trip for one or two people.


Utilizing a guide operated watercraft will help participants up their odds by covering lots of water with expert guides who know the nuances of the river. But remember, you can fish independently as well. This is FLY FISHING ONLY, CATCH and RELEASE ONLY. First prize will be a Helios-2 Limited addition Sweetwater 9ft 5wt fly rod with 2nd and 3rd place prizes. There will also be weekly best biggest fish prizes to keep it interesting. The cost to register is $25.00 please go to this link pick up your special tape measuring device at ORVIS, Sweetwater Brewing Company or your local fly shops.

11th Annual Soque River Ramble

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It is Rivers Alive time again and SRWA members and volunteers will participate in Georgia's annual volunteer campaign to clean up and preserve over 70,000 miles of our state's rivers and streams.  Rivers Alive is a project of the GA Environmental Protection Division's Outreach Programs in collaboration with local partner organizations.

SRWA volunteers will meet for the local cleanup at 9:00 a.m., Saturday, September 23 at Pitts Park in Clarkesville.  Depending on the number of volunteers, we may divide up to cover more territory, including the public fishing area on the Soque at Jackson Bridge and the Clarkesville Greenway.  Please bring work gloves, drinking water, and a willingness to get dirty!  We'll supply trash bags and have a water refill jug on hand.

The event will end by noon and will include a cook-out and free t-shirt for the first 30 volunteers.  All are welcome - you do not have to be a member to attend and help!  Our local event will join over 200 other cleanups across the state and an expected 30,000 volunteers.  In total, Rivers Alive volunteers will collect trash and debris in and along streams, rivers, lakes, wetlands, and the ocean from the Soque River all the way to St. Mary's.  For more information, please call the SRWA office or e-mail See their website at

Sign up now for the 11th Annual Soque River Ramble to be held Saturday, October 21 at the Wilbanks Farm in Batesville along the banks of the headwaters of the Soque River.  SRWA is coordinating the event again this year and we hope to have a record crowd. 

Many have said this is one of the most scenic routes on the Run and See Georgia Grand Prix circuit.  Come enjoy the natural beauty of the mountains and valleys with us in a family-friendly event for all ages!  As always, this event is a fundraiser supporting SRWA and the Batesville Community Association.

Breaking News: Great Southeastern Trout Unlimited SHOOT OUT

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Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!

Trout Unlimited is deeply engrained in the mission statement of Southern Trout Magazine. We want to strengthen the relationship with TU by working to have every member in your state as a subscriber to this free digital publication. The “carrot on the stick” being offered to help this happen is Southern Trout Magazine has partnered with the world famous fly rod maker, Thomas & Thomas. This special partnering allows us to award a brand new Thomas & Thomas fly rod to the TU chapter in the zone that signs up the most subscribers to Southern Trout Magazine. A total of five Thomas & Thomas rods will be given out. The winning TU chapter in its zone will have a "jackpot roll" auction item, a Thomas & Thomas fly rod for their next fund raising effort!

We hope that interested TU chapters will see this as a very unique opportunity to receive a top shelf auction item and have bragging rights as a winning chapter in your state/region. To help achieve parity between chapters with large memberships and those chapters that have lower, growing memberships, we encourage chapters to reach out beyond their members to others such as non-member anglers, family members or friends who you believe might enjoy receiving and reading Southern Trout Magazine. Sign up at


May a chapter bulk subscribe its entire membership?

Yes, providing the chapter is in agreement with doing so. Anyone receiving Southern Trout Magazine can opt out at any time.

Many of our members are already subscribers to Southern Trout Magazine. Does their sign up count in the contest?

Yes, however participants must still submit their information in the form on the website so we can record with what chapter they are affiliated. The objective on the part of chapters is to win. Our subscriber list program automatically kicks out duplicate email addresses. However, the chapter will NOT be credited with the sign up if participants do not sign up through the form, even if they are already signed up.

How do we send in the list of subscribers?

We have created a landing/sign-up page exclusively for this campaign. Simply go to the site,, choose your state and chapter, enter your name and email, and that's it. If you prefer, send via email your hand written lists, or send them snail mail. Either is perfectly acceptable. If you do the latter, for proper accreditation to your chapter's tally, please be sure to clearly identify the name of your chapter for proper crediting. Request a printable form, via email if you wish. Email for a form.

Prior to the beginning of the second month of the contest, the total subscriber numbers will be posted at and chapter presidents will be copied. A second posting email to chapter presidents will go out two weeks before the contest ends to provide them with the latest tallies.

We regularly patronize our local fly shop. Can we put a hand sign-up form there?

Yes, by all means. This and other venues such as fly fishing festivals or events, or even church or civic groups. Our goal is to get Southern Trout Magazine in front of as many anglers as possible. Additionally, we will provide you with a printable form to help you facilitate this including instructions on how to submit it. Hopefully your goal is to win and receive a Thomas & Thomas fly rod for an upcoming fund raising effort. We are hoping the effort will be fun and even highly competitive.

When does the contest start and when will it end with the announcement of the winner?

The official start is September 15, with the winner being announced on December 15. The only real rule is that lists must be sent to us dated no later than December 20.

How is the contest geographically divided?

We sharpened our pencils and came up with these arenas of competition:

 North Carolina:                                total of 16 chapters

Virginia:                                               total of 18 chapters

Tennessee/Kentucky:                     total of 10 chapters

Georgia/SC:                                        total of 16 chapters

WV/Maryland                                   total of 13 chapters

How are the email addresses of Southern Trout Magazine subscribers protected?

The email addresses of the subscribers are sacred. They are never shared, sold, or rented out to anyone ever. This is a cornerstone policy that will never change. Additionally, we emphasize that any subscriber may unsubscribe at any time! Southern Trout Magazine, Thomas & Thomas, and any sponsor of this challenge will not allow subscriber email address to be used for any other purpose other than directly communicating with subscribers. Subscriber lists are never rented, sold, shared or otherwise used for any purpose other than the fore noted reason.

 This is our promise,

"Cross our hearts, hope to die, stick a needle in our eye."

4th Annual Smoky Mountain Grand

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Now in its fourth year, The Smoky Mountain Grand Slam Challenge is an annual fly fishing tournament and banquet held to support Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing and the thousands of injured and disabled veterans the organization serves annually.  It will be heldOctober 6-7, 2017 in greater Knoxville, TN.

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The weekend begins with the Smoky Mountain Grand Slam Banquet at The Foundry in Knoxville, TN.  Local celebrity news anchor John Becker will serve as Master of Ceremonies for the evening and world-renown angler and fly tier Kelly Galloup will return to share his bountiful wisdom and humor as the featured celebrity angler and speaker.   You don’t need to be a fly fisher to enjoy the banquet! The evening will feature presentations, silent auction items, a live auction, great food, and a cash bar.

Saturday, October 7thwill see fly fishing tournament action, as twelve injured and disabled veterans participants from around the Tennessee Valley will be paired for some of the areas best guides on the famed Clinch River for a great day fishing for brown trout, brook trout, and rainbow trout.

Tickets are now available and we’re excited to offer a great special:  The first 100 tickets are only $50 while supplies last!  You can learn more about the event and purchase a ticket by visiting The Smoky Mountain Grand Slam Challenge website