Monday, May 15, 2017

Enormous Open-pit Mine in Bristol Bay Headwaters Returns from the Dead

A proposed massive open-pit gold mine in the headwaters of Bristol Bay, one of the world's most productive salmon fisheries, has returned to life after being declared too destructive to permit in 2014.

Under the Obama administration the EPA determined that the impacts associated with the proposed Pebble Mine were far too detrimental to Bristol Bay and its salmon populations, and prepared a draft rule to utilize the agency's ability under the Clean Water Act to deny the mine a permit necessary for construction.  Mine proponents sued and last week the Trump administration settled with the mining companies allowing them the opportunity to resurrect the mine.  See Trout Unlimited's site on Bristol Bay and the potential impacts of the Pebble Mine for more information, as well as the EPA's site dedicated to Pebble Mine.
Until next time,
Cheers & Tight Lines,
Brad

You can contact me at:
email-conservationflyfisher@gmail.com
Twitter- @ConserveTrout
Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/conservationflyfishing


Monday, May 8, 2017

Lessons from a Fishless Day on the River

My fly fishing skills lag far behind my passion for the sport.  I spent the Wyoming winter perusing monthly magazine articles filled with new techniques for honing my skills and developing a larger repertoire for catching fish while waiting for spring to arrive.

I spent Friday afternoon on the Northfork of the Shoshone River-- exactly one day late. I found the river rushing and filled with sediment as this year's runoff began even though my coworker assured me that the water was "only a little high" the day before.

The highway that leads to Yellowstone National Park's east entrance parallels the Northfork of the Shoshone River for most of its length.  Keeping a wary eye on the elk, deer, bighorn sheep, and bison near the road, I searched for the waters my coworker assured me were still fishable.  All I found were silt-laden, snow-melt waters churning down the river.  I refused to concede defeat and drove higher and higher up the valley in search of waters I could safely wet my line in.

Much of the Northfork of the Shoshone is seasonally closed to protect spawning runs of the native Yellowstone cutthroat trout.  The stretch of river between where it enters the Buffalo Bill Reservoir west of Cody, Wyoming up to Newton Creek are encompassed in the closure.  The seasonal closure was a partial relief as I watched the roiling water on my way up the valley.  Ascending the valley I eventually found water that, while off-color, was less so than lower in the valley.  Nevertheless water levels were still too high and swift to even think about wading into.

I didn't even give a thought to tying on a dry fly; instead I began working the soft water near shore with a rubber-legged woolly bugger.  When this failed to produce any results I switched to a bead-head copper John, which also failed to produce any strikes.  In the little time I had left on the water I switched to my favorite fly- the Alexandra wet fly.  I stripped the bright colored fly through the soft water in the 200-yard stretch that I kept myself contained to as I tried different types of flies and my new  magazine-garnered skills, but like my previous two attempts received no strikes to reward my efforts.

Friday turned out not only fishless, but without even so much as a single strike; however, I consider it a heck of a productive day.  The tough conditions helped shape my frame of mind so as to make the afternoon a learning episode.  I tested new methods of fly fishing along with trying flies I typically wouldn't even give a second thought.  Even though I didn't catch a single fish I established a great foundation for expanding my angling repertoire in both easy and challenging conditions thoughout the remainder of this year's fishing season.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Fly Fishing and the Endangered Species Act

As I wrote in a previous post, the Endangered Species Act is coming under assault in the 115th Congress.  This last week E&E News reported that bills were introduced in both the House and Senate that would fundamentally undermine the protections currently offered under the Endangered Species Act.

Here are a couple of elements contained in the bills as reported by E&E News:

Senate file S.935 would automatically remove species on the threatened and endangered species list after five years, regardless of status or success.  Additionally, S.935 would require the Fish & Wildlife Service, the administrators of the Act, to "obtain the consent of governors before making management decisions that would affect species within their states," thereby undermining the stated purpose of the act to protect threatened and endangered species and the ecosystems upon which they depend,  and essentially gutting the Endangered Species Act of its very relevance.
A Yellowstone cutthroat trout. 
Like all cutthroat trout,it has been petitioned 
to be listed under the Endangered Species Act in the
 recent past.

This is not to say that the there are not improvements that can be made to the Endangered Species Act.  But, what we don't need are short-sighted "fixes" to the landmark legislation that carry all the hallmarks of political expedience at the cost to the whole of society as we continue to lose more and more species to extinction.

To keep this in the purview of angling, two American species of trout have already been lost to extinction- the yellowfin cutthroat trout and the Alvord cutthroat trout.  This is two species too many in an era when nearly all native trout are under siege.
Until next time,
Cheers & Tight Lines,
Brad

You can contact me at:
email-conservationflyfisher@gmail.com
Twitter- @ConserveTrout
Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/conservationflyfishing