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Tight Lines

by Fly Fisherman   |  March 22nd, 2012 0


Ant Success
I recently had the pleasure of fishing the Green River below Flaming Gorge Reservoir. While hoppers were abundant on the banks and the trout seemed interested, they were also able to get a good look at my fly in the clear water, and I received many refusals. I remembered reading the sidebar “Tootsie Roll” in the Aug-Sep 2011 issue about Lance Egan winning a one-fly contest on the Green using a foam ant pattern. So I tied on one of my own black Tootsie Rolls, and the fun began.

I had fish swim from 10 feet away to take the fly. On numerous occasions, large browns nosed up to the fly before retreating, and then turned around and took the fly on the second pass. That day was my “one fly” outing. Thanks to Fly Fisherman magazine for the tip!
Rick Thomas Stow, Ohio

Genetically Modified Salmon
Given the very real public and scientific concerns regarding the environmental consequences of the production and transportation of​ genetically modified salmon, one would expect a very rigorous environmental review by a host of government agencies. This is not the case.

In the letter “99.9% Pure Atlantic Salmon” [Oct-Dec 2011], Henry Clifford takes Trout Unlimited, and me personally, to task for what he sees as an inaccurate characterization of the federal review of the genetically modified AquAdvantage salmon. He claims that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and NOAA Fisheries biologists were consulted by the Food and Drug Administration. That may be true, but we don’t know to what extent their advice was followed.

Trout Unlimited has long advocated for a transparent review process led by NOAA Fisheries or the FWS. Clearly, the Food and Drug administration is an odd choice to lead an environmental review, but nonetheless is in charge of the current process.

Clifford also points out that the firm he works for, AquaBounty Technologies, will not raise the modified salmon in net pens or sea cages, where their ultimate release into the wild is only a matter of time. Instead, AquaBounty will raise the salmon in confined facilities hundreds of miles from the ocean. Distance does not provide a guarantee of containment, especially when fish are shipped among countries.

Also far from certain is the salmon’s complete sterility. It is interesting to note that just this October, the U.S. Department of Agriculture provided AquaBounty with a $494,162 grant to conduct research on technologies that would render the genetically modified salmon 100 percent sterile. Presently, the AquaBounty process produces mostly sterile fish, but because their process isn’t perfect, a small percentage of AquaBounty’s modified salmon remain fertile. In fact, no one currently knows how to guarantee perfect sterility; something that should have been a prerequisite to any proposal to produce and market these fish.

The various safeguards proposed by AquaBounty and the Food and Drug Administration may help minimize these risks, but the success of these measures is far from certain. Trout Unlimited and many anglers and scientists remain unconvinced by public statements that these provisions for environmental safety are adequate, or that they will be rigorously enforced by the FDA. The history of accidental releases from aquaculture facilities does not engender feelings of safety, especially when so many of the wild stocks of salmon that may be risked already are in danger of extinction. Threatened and endangered salmon deserve 100 percent from us, and we should not settle for less.
Dr. Jack Williams Trout Unlimited

Wind River Nightmare
I read Tom Reed’s account of Finis Mitchell in the Oct-Dec 2011 issue with a sense of joy and melancholy. Joy because I’ve carried Mitchell’s little blue book (Wind River Trails) around for years, never ceasing to wonder how his stubborn resolve managed to rise to the herculean task of stocking trout in faraway places with such meager resources. I’m old enough to remember men like him in Wyoming, and they are a vanishing breed. They have been replaced with a new breed, one that fancies a Dodge Ram over a horse, or a job at a gas well than a lower-paying but less invasive assault on Wyoming’s dwindling landscape.

I’m sorry Reed doesn’t mention the predatory invasion that is occurring now in the Winds. When I was a child, my favorite drive was from Larson to Lander, my boyhood excitement fueled by the sheer depth and beauty of the Winds. Now, because of our unbridled greed for natural gas, the rims of these magnificent mountains are barely visible, due to the pollution from several thousand surrounding gas wells. Finis Mitchell may have died in a lonely retirement home, but he was spared the heartbreak of witnessing the degradation of the land he loved, and for that I envy him.
Tony Gilkyson Los Angeles, California


Natural gas drilling in the Wind River Range and in the nearby Pinedale Anticline have ruined the views and threatened the environment that Finis Mitchell fought for his entire life.

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