The state of Rhode Island released its 2012-13 fishing regulations brochure without much fanfare, offering no hint that there was anything controversial or game-changing inside. And it took anglers a little while to read all the way to the bottom of the section titled "Freshwater Fisheries Regulations," where they were astonished to find something entirely new tacked on:
Such a regulation is obviously not new—Vermont and Maryland have enacted similar bans—but it was quite a shock to Rhode Island’s angling population, which didn’t know such a rule was coming. And unlike the bans in the other states, this one includes salt water.
While we think that bans on felt soles are in the best interest of fly fishers everywhere, it seems very strange that Rhode Island chose to implement such a ban without any public input. It will be interesting to see how this story progresses.
Early-season ice fishing can be great, but the ice conditions are often sketchy. Here are some tips for staying safe:
Check in with a local sport shop or bait shop to get up-to-date information before you set out.
Check out ice conditions before you go. Ask other anglers or local sources and take into account changes in the weather during the past 24 hours.
If you have even the slightest doubt about the safety of the ice, stay off it.
It’s OK to wear a life jacket or carry a throwable floatation device.
Wear a warm hat that covers your ears. In cold weather, 75 to 80 percent of heat loss from the body occurs from an uncovered head.
Wear mittens. They are warmer than gloves and reduce the chance of frostbite.
Before you leave home, tell someone where you plan to fish and when you plan to return.
Carry a pair of long spikes on a heavy string around your neck. That way if you break through the ice you can use the spikes to grip the ice and pull yourself out of the water.
• Go with someone who knows the water and how ice tends to form and change. For those without an ice-fishing buddy, check out one of the ice-fishing blogs, or a website like www.iceshanty.com, with ice-fishing updates, chat and a map of where ice is found in the U.S. and Canada.
When on the ice, remember:
For years, General Electric argued that dredging its toxic PCB pollution from the Hudson River would only stir up pollution and send it downriver. This month, the Environmental Protection Agency signaled that GE’s old scare tactic was far from the truth when it upped its goal for removing PCB-contaminated sediment by 25%. The cleanup is ahead of schedule, and we’re that much closer to our longstanding goal of restoring the Hudson’s fisheries – and reclaiming our river.
· Get Informed: Read about the history of PCB contamination in the Hudson River.
· Do Your Part! Donate to Riverkeeper’s Hudson River Program.
The first US felt ban was proposed for Alaska in 2009 and, after several modifications, a statewide ban on the use of felt for recreational fishing will take effect on the 1st of January. This regulation, implemented administratively by the Alaska Board of Fisheries, has been planned for a couple of years so there should be no surprise for anglers or retailers. Meanwhile, most of the press stories about the ban are very supportive. Read More
Alaska joins Vermont and Maryland as states with bans already in place. As we reported last month, Missouri will have a ban on selected cold water fisheries before their season opening. With legislative sessions scheduled to begin across the country in January, it is likely that we will see additional bans debated and perhaps adopted.
With bans spreading it would seem logical that consumers would be looking to purchase non-felt boots. However, the opposite seems to be the case as reports indicate high demand for felt soled boots.
Felt bans are one of the hottest topics among anglers and we continue to provide a comprehensive accounting of all felt ban proposals in the US at US Felt Bans
Posted: 20 Dec 2011 05:40 AM PST
[Editor’s Note: Here’s a post by Orvis product developer Tim Daughton from last January. Since our readership is so much larger now than it was then, I figured that those of you who have joined the blog in recent months could benefit from Tim’s excellent insights.]
The advent of breathable waders a couple of decades ago has helped to make the majority of our wader-adorned fishing experiences much more enjoyable. Gone are the days of vulcanized rubber and neoprene waders that were effectively like fishing in a really heavy-duty trash bag—waterproof but uncomfortable. However, wearing incorrect layers under your breathable waders can result in a similar experience, even with today’s high-tech breathable fabrics. By wearing the correct types of garments under your waders, you can stay warm and comfortable through out the day and ensure you stay on the water longer.
Let me start by dispelling one common myth. Breathable doesn’t mean air-conditioned. You will sweat in breathable waders, and not all of this sweat is going to "breathe" out of your waders. This is especially true if your fishing adventure includes any strenuous activity, like hiking, or you naturally sweat abundantly. So what happens to the sweat that is left in your waders? That is where proper layering becomes an important factor. Not only do the correct garments help to insulate, which is very important, but they also serve to manage excess moisture that can and will accumulate inside your waders. Improper fabrics in your layering system can contribute to making you cold, clammy and just basically uncomfortable.
So what should you wear? I’ll break it down into three basic temperature ranges and provide a detailed list of the type of garments that you should consider wearing. You may already own some of these garments if you hunt, ski, hike, or do any other outdoor activity in a wide range of temperature conditions. There is one common element throughout all these systems—no cotton! Most of us wear cotton every day and enjoy the overall comfort. However, under waders, cotton garments will work against you, as they are highly hydrophilic (water-loving) and have no insulative value when wet. Try and avoid cotton at all cost, especially in cold conditions.
Late Fall/Winter/Early Spring
During the coldest part of the year, temperatures will generally range between 0 and 40 degrees, depending on your specific geographic region. There are two major priorities—keeping warm and staying completely dry, which aids tremendously in keeping warm.
Feet—An important thing to remember is that the neoprene booties on your breathable waders don’t breathe at all, and feet usually sweat a lot. In cold temperatures, this excess sweat will do its best to make your feet damp and cold, driving you back to the warmth of your vehicle much earlier than anticipated. Therefore, you’ll need a two-sock system. Start with a 100% synthetic "liner" or lightweight sock, usually constructed of a poly/nylon blend with some spandex for a comfortable fit. These socks will help to ensure that any moisture generated is wicked away from the skin. Over this sock goes a midweight or heavyweight insulatiing wool/nylon blended sock for warmth. Keep in mind that you don’t want to create too much bulk that results in your wading boots being too tight. When this happens, you effectively cut of the blood supply to your feet, and they will get cold no matter what you wear. If you fish often in the winter, consider purchasing another pair of wading boots in a larger size to accommodate the added bulk or use a bootfoot wader.
Body—The same principle applies here as with the feet. Start with a midweight layer that is extremely efficient at moving moisture away from the skin. Synthetics and wool/synthetic blends are great choices. The next layer is your insulating layer, and fleece is your best option. Midweight or heavyweight fleece pants or a suit will fit the bill for this task. In extreme cold, I have been known to wear two fleece layers, but you have to consider how your waders are going to fit with all that bulk.
Everyone’s internal thermostat is different, so their layering needs may be
photo by Time Wade
Temperatures will range from near freezing to a very comfortable 65+ degrees, so flexibility and layering is the key. Staying warm is still an issue, but the warmer temps make moisture management a higher priority.
Feet—The two-sock system is still ideal, but as temperatures warm it may be unnecessary. A single, good synthetic wool-blend heavyweight or midweight sock may be more than enough to keep your feet warm and dry during this transitional season.
Body—Moisture management will become more of an issue as temperatures increase, but you will still need to make sure you have enough insulation. A lightweight synthetic or wool/synthetic blend is a great base layer and will effectively manage the potential increase in perspiration. A fleece pant is a perfect choice as a thermal layer. Many of these pants incorporate a certain amount of stretch material to help achieve a better fit and offer unrestricted movement and flexibility. I have never called it quits for the day because I was too warm, so be prepared during this unpredictable but productive part of the fishing season.
Summertime requires good moisture management, especially when you need
photo by Sandy Hays
Temperatures will range from 70 to 100, so moisture management is the top priority. But don’t neglect the insulation component, especially if your favorite haunts happen to be on tailwater fisheries where water temperatures are often in the 40s.
Feet—A good all synthetic or blended lightweight sock is a perfect choice. The temptation during this time of year is to throw your waders on over the cotton socks you wear on a normal day, a guaranteed way to have wet and uncomfortable feet. The same wading boots that fit perfect in winter may now feel loose and sloppy; you may consider having a second pair for warm weather fishing.
Body—A lightweight synthetic base layer is the perfect warm-weather layer. Wear alone or as a first layer on cooler days, as it will wick moisture away from the skin and dry fast to keep you comfortable. Many offer some level of antimicrobial treatment to eliminate odor and bacteria growth, which can be a factor in hot, humid conditions and on multiple-day trips. Avoid the temptation to put on waders over jeans or chinos, as the cotton fibers will act as a sponge and soak up all your perspiration. In some cases, this could produce enough moisture to give the impression that your waders are leaking.
These are some very basic guidelines to help you get started in determining what to wear under your waders. Your own personal comfort level and internal thermostat will help to fine-tune this to meet your expectations.
Ensuring that Americans have clean water has been an effort with strong bipartisan support for four decades. But not anymore.
December 11, 2011 |
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WASHINGTON, DC (ENS) — This year, residents of Midland, Texas sued Dow Chemical for dangerous levels of hexavalent chromium in their drinking water. Chromium-6 is a cancer-causing chemical made infamous by Julia Roberts’ film, "Erin Brockovich." There are currently no drinking water standards for chromium-6, and the chemical industry is delaying a new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency assessment labeling it a potent carcinogen.
Posted: 14 Dec 2011 01:33 PM PST
Trout will bite even on snowy, frigid days, if you know what fly patterns to throw.
photo by Paul Schullery
‘Tis the season for winter fly-fishing. Here are seven tips to get you started, as well as my favorite fly patterns:
1. Pick the right place. Best winter rivers are Colorado tailwaters like the South Platte, Yampa, Frying Pan, or Gunnison; Montana tailwaters like the Bighorn and Madison; Wyoming rivers like the Snake River in Jackson; Idaho tailwaters like the South Fork and Henry’s Fork of the Snake; the Provo and Green in Utah, Great Lakes tributaries, and the upper Sacramento in California. As you can see, a fishing trip can often be combined with a ski trip.
2. Slow and deep is best. Use a strike indicator and weighted fly, or weight on the leader and the high-stick method, which keeps most of your fly line off the water. Dead drift is critical in winter because trout won’t chase a fly in cold water.
3. Swing with a sinking-tip line. Although dead-drift nymphing is best, if you prefer to swing a fly for trout or steelhead, use a sinking tip line with a very strong mend at the beginning of the cast so your fly swings slow and deep.
4. Look for rises. Occasionally trout will rise during the winter, almost always to small midges or olive mayflies. A small midge emerger or a tiny olive mayfly emerger will be the only dries you’ll need to carry.
5. Stay in bed in the morning. You’ll see the most surface activity mid-afternoon on sunny days, or, surprisingly, all day long on gray snowy days without wind.
6. Light tippets are usually more productive in winter. The flies are small and water is clear. I use 6X Mirage for trout fishing and 4X Mirage for steelhead under most conditions.
7. Know where the fish hold. Fish tend to “pod up” in winter in deeper, slower water. Once you catch one try not to disturb the water and continue to fish in the same place. Fish the slow water thoroughly, but move often if you aren’t connecting.
Best Flies for Winter Fishing
English Pheasant Tail Nymph sizes 18 and 20. This version is far more effective than the bulkier American version for imitating the slim Blue-Winged-Olive mayflies and small brown stoneflies common in winter.
Disco Midge sizes 20 and 22. Imitates tiny midge pupae that hatch all winter long, particularly in western tailwaters. You can fish this one in the surface film for risers, but it’s usually more effective deep, with Sink Putty on the leader (as are all of the nymphs listed here)
Flashback Scud size 16. In spring creeks and tailwaters that hold tiny freshwater crustaceans called scuds, this fly is essential.
Micro Stone size 14. Small stoneflies often hatch during the winter, so the nymphs are active in cold waters.
Vernille San Juan Worm . This fly in both red and tan imitates aquatic worms that get washed from the streambed when water rises slightly during dam releases on tailwaters.
ICSI (I Can See It) Midge . Gray, size22. A floating midge pupa pattern you can spot on the water because of its orange parachute post.
Griffith’s Gnat size 20. Great when adult midges skitter across the surface, especially when they form clumps.
Cannon’s Bunny Dun , Baetis. Sizes 18 and 20. My favorite imitation out of many for winter Blue-Winged-Olive hatches.
Bead Head Flash Zonker . White, size 8. This fly has become one of the favorite streamers of the fly fishers on our staff. It’s particularly effective in tailwaters, where light-colored shad and alewives get washed through turbines.
Moto’s Minnow , Dark. Size 10. This small dark fly wiggles in even the slightest breath of current, important when you are fishing nearly dead-drift in winter. Its coloration is a perfect imitation of the sculpin, a small baitfish common in freestone streams.
For the first time, the EPA this week officially linked fracking to groundwater pollution. The announcement is the first step in the process of the EPA opening up their findings to public review.
The announcement, which concerns the small community of Pavillion, Wyoming, could have nation-wide implications for fracking, the process of pumping a mixture of water and chemicals, at a very high rate of pressure, into the ground to release imbedded oil and gas. However, according to the EPA, the fracking methods being used in Pavillion are different than those used in the other states where fracking remains a contentious topic.
Furthermore, the presence of chemicals associated with fracking, could have come from other sources, says Doug Hock, a spokesman for Encana, the company that runs the Pavillion gas field. “Those could just have likely been brought about by contamination in their sampling process or construction of their well. … There are still a lot of questions that need to be answered. This is a probability and is one we believe is incorrect.”
Hock is not the only critic of the EPA’s findings. The study was “not based on sound science but rather on political science,” according to Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla.
While contamination is the primary obstacle for fracking, it is not the only one. Russell Gold and Ana Campoy of the Wall Street Journal bring light to another issue: the massive amounts of water being used.
A controversy with no simple answer
First published in The daily Gazette, Schenectady, N.Y., 11/3/11
Trout Unlimited really got people talking last month when it announced that its members may not take part in stocking “non-native, hatchery trout” in streams that already hold native trout.
The directive isn’t expected to curtail stocking, which is mostly conducted by state conservation departments. But it has stirred up a lively philosophical discussion about the merits and perils of adding catchable trout to our streams.
Many — maybe most — New York streams that have been stocked for generations also hold at least a few native trout, meaning trout that were not only born in the stream, but are in fact descendants of the trout that were here before people were here. If the presence of any native trout at all made an entire stream off-limits to stocking, an awful lot of New York trout fishing would simply disappear.
“Does one stop stocking brown trout in Willowemoc Creek, for example?” asked Phil Hulbert, chief of the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Bureau of Fisheries, referring to the storied Catskills stream that holds wild and holdover browns and brookies, no doubt including some natives.
“I’m confident there would be people that have opinions both ways. The way we try to deal with this is in a technical sense, not philosophical. When we decide whether a stream should be stocked, we take into account the abundance of wild trout and we make adjustments for the presence of wild trout, in terms of whether there’s unused carrying capacity for hatchery trout.”
If there are enough wild fish, the DEC doesn’t bother stocking at all, Hulbert noted.
Mike Walchko, president of the Clearwater Chapter of TU in Albany, said the chapter doesn’t take part in any stocking activity, preferring to focus on maintaining and improving trout habitat. He agreed with Hulbert that the issue of where to stock and where not to is complex.
“Since streams are continuous bodies, most brook trout populations are found in the upper, colder, cleaner headwater reaches, while the lower stretches are the sections stocked with hatchery fish,” he said. “Many streams are dependent upon these stockings to support a fishable population in these lower stretches.”
Larry Harris, head of TU’s national leadership council, wrote this week to chapter presidents that he was taken aback by the controversy arising from the new policy. After all, TU has been on record for years that stocking should be avoided if it was likely to harm native trout populations.
“I began receiving calls the very next morning after the resolution was sent to council chairs and chapter presidents,” Harris said. “What I am learning is that some chapters in several states currently stock hatchery trout in streams containing native trout.”
And so Harris and a number of TU leaders from around the country are forming a committee to help state councils and local chapters comply with the policy in a way that makes sense on their local waters.
I’ve complained in this space, and others have complained in other spaces, that some New York waters are stocked with way too many cookie-cutter trout with barely any survival instincts. But I also fish some streams where all the trout are wild, others where most are wild, and still others where there’s a pleasing mix of wild trout and holdover stockies. One of my regular spots even has a few genuine, certified, heritage-strain brookies, their DNA untainted by interlopers from California or Germany. None of these are secret or remote. Even after a century of heavy stocking, New York still offers plenty of “natural” trout fishing.
Native trout can never be replaced, and anything that will protect the ones we have is a good idea.
Morgan Lyle’s commentary appears regularly in The Daily Gazette. Reach him firstname.lastname@example.org