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2024 Cicada Madness Underway

Plus slaughtered salmon, rock snot, Atlantic salmon and southern steelhead protection, Everglades, bluefish, a massive cutthroat, and more in Fly Fisherman's News Briefs for May 23, 2024.

2024 Cicada Madness Underway
Cicada hatches are a unique event that promise some great fly fishing from the Mid-Atlantic and Appalachians, through the Deep South and into the Ozarks of Arkansas and Missouri, and on into the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys of the Midwest. (Photo courtesy of Pixabay, Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication license)

With spring preparing to turn into summertime, it’s dad’s turn to be celebrated with Father's Day coming on Sunday, June 16. If you need a gift idea for the dad who helped spawn a passion for fly fishing in your own soul, check out Fly Fisherman's 2024 Father's Day Gift Guide for another round of great gift ideas. 

And while you're trying to decide on exactly what to get him, here's another round of Fly Fisherman magazine's News Briefs:

2024 Cicada Madness Underway

By now, you have likely heard about the overlapping hatches of periodical cicadas as the 13-year interval Brood XIX, or Great Southern Brood, and the 17-year interval Brood XIII are both hatching from the East Coast to the Ozarks. While overlapping hatches occasionally happen every few years thanks to the 15 different broods that exist in the U.S., the two broods hatching out this year and overlapping in a few counties in Illinois haven’t overlapped since Thomas Jefferson was president of the United States. 

In addition to being a lot of fun for scientists in the entomology world, these hatches are also a unique event that promises some great fly fishing from the Mid-Atlantic and Appalachians, through the Deep South and into the Ozarks of Arkansas and Missouri, and on into the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys of the Midwest.

Dave Zielinski, author of the book Cicada Madness and also the recent Fly Fisherman magazine feature article "Fly Fishing 2024's Cicadapacolypse: When Broods Collide," is posting to social media almost daily showing big cicada hatch catches of double-digit grass carp, sizable common carp, and more.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Dave Zielinski (@down_home_boatworks)

In the Ozarks of northern Arkansas, our Outdoor Sportsman Group sister publication Game & Fish magazine told recently about how semi-retired fly guide Rob Woodruff is having fun fishing this "cheeseburger hatch" on Ozark streams for rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, sunfish, and even rare happenings like the catch of a striped shiner that simply couldn't resist a cicada imitation.

While the cicada hatches will start to wane over the next several weeks, don't forget about these Magicicada bugs just yet. And maybe keep the stories noted above bookmarked or even printed off, along with Blane Chocklett's advice on "How to Fish a Cicada Hatch," since a periodical cicada hatch will be making news once again a few months down the road. 

Why is that? Because next year in 2025, the periodical cicada show continues with the late spring and early summer emergence of Brood XIV, something that hasn't happened since 2008. And since that 17-year interval hatch—which is described by Zielinski in his book as extremely prolific and dense as two distinct groups emerge from portions of New England, down through the Appalachians, in portions of the Midwest, and even into Tennessee and Georgia—the cicada madness causing this year’s fly fishing fun should have another go-around a year from now!

Captains for Clean Water Urges Big Sugar Lawsuit to be Dropped

The Florida non-profit Captains for Clean Water (CCW) is urging that interested parties watch a YouTube video and take action to urge "Big Sugar" to drop their lawsuit against the EAA Reservoir.

Why such an effort? "Big Sugar is suing over a critical Everglades restoration project, the EAA Reservoir, threatening the project and the future of South Florida’s waters," notes a CCW news release on its website. "This lawsuit aims to allow the sugar industry to hoard public water for their personal profit—at the expense of us, the taxpayers. If successful, it threatens more harm for our communities, our economy, and our environment."

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CCW states on its website that the lawsuit (1) prioritizes the status-quo water management efforts that favor the sugar industry while harming all other stakeholders; (2) changes the use of the reservoir from restoration work (that relieves harmful coastal discharges and sends water to the Everglades) to water supply (something that CWW says is "Big Sugar's" personal, taxpayer-funded irrigation reservoir); and (3) inflicts more multi-billion dollar economic impacts to Florida's coastal communities due to harmful water-quality events like those in 2018.

Interested in helping Captains for Clean Water in its ongoing fight for better water quality in the Sunshine State? Then visit the organization's website and join the fight to stop South Florida's water quality crisis.

More Bad News for Oregon Salmon

We told you recently about a truck rollover accident in Oregon, a mishap that accidentally dumped 77,000 salmon into the wrong body of water in the wreck's aftermath.

Now there's more bad salmon news in the Beaver State according to a news release from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) reported. The release details what happened after a vandal broke into the Gardiner, Reedsport, and Winchester Bay (GRWB) Salmon Trout Enhancement Program hatchery in Douglas County and poured bleach into a fish hatchery tank last month, killing nearly 18,000 young salmon.

A hatchery worker scooping up dead salmon fry.
GRWB Hatchery Manager Tim Hooper shovels the dead pre-smolts from the bottom of the rearing pond. The fish will be frozen for future evidence in the criminal case. (Photo courtesy ODFW)

According to a Facebook post, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office (DCSO) received a call on April 22 that someone had forcibly made their way into the hatchery building and poured a gallon of bleach into one of the Oregon hatchery's rearing ponds. 

The next day, a DCSO sheriff's deputy patrolling the area observed a male subject walking along a highway. A short time later, the deputy walked into the hatchery and observed the same male behind a locked gate and "No Trespassing" signs. When the deputy made contact with and interviewed the subject, he was identified as 22-year old Gardiner, Ore. resident Joshua Alexander Heckathorn.

"During the interview, Heckathorn admitted to trespassing on the property and entering a storage location and handling the chemical bottle on Monday," said the DCSO social media post. "Deputies arrested Heckathorn and lodged him at the Douglas County Jail on charges of Burglary II, Criminal Trespass and Criminal Mischief."

Because of the number of smolt chinook salmon that were killed in the incident, the DCSO collaborated with the Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife (OSP F&W) unit on the case. 

Chinook salmon are an anadromous salmonid with a complex life history according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Vulnerable to many threats including dams that block access to spawning grounds, the Sacramento River winter-run chinook population and the Upper Columbia River spring-run chinook population are both listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act while several other populations are listed as ESA threatened.

"The Douglas County Sheriff's Office has been a great partner for the OSP F&W Division," said OSP F&W Division Sergeant Levi Harris in the news release. "Their enthusiasm and professionalism is very much appreciated. Their coastal deputies have helped solve cases and/or held wildlife violators for us a number of times here in Western Douglas County."

ODFW reports that poaching charges will include Unlawful Taking Chinook Salmon for 17,890 fish, which raised the charge to a Class C felony. In addition, Heckathorn faces charges of Making a Toxic Substance Available to Wildlife, which is a Class A Misdemeanor; and Criminal Mischief 1st Degree (Damaging or destroying property of another in an amount exceeding $1,000). Additional penalties could result and might include a lifetime angling license suspension and damage suits for unlawful killing of wildlife.

The maximum civil penalty in Oregon for illegal take of a single Chinook salmon is $750. ODFW reports that the state’s courts have the authority to multiply that amount by the number of fish taken, with a judgement in this case potentially raising the amount to over $13 million, according to Sergeant Harris. Although he admits that it is unlikely to elevate to that level, the case represents a significant loss to the Salmon Trout Enhancement Program (STEP) the smolts were destined for.

"The killing of these fish is a real blow to the STEP Program Volunteers, ODFW, fishermen, and the community as a whole," Sergeant Harris said, "In my 25 years as a game warden, this is one of the most senseless acts I have seen."

Oregon legislators created the STEP Program in 1981 to give volunteers and others passionate about fish a means of contributing time and effort. STEP volunteers also complete stream habitat restoration work, conduct surveys, educate the public, and hatch and rear salmon and trout eggs. Those volunteers—many of whom were reportedly deeply saddened by the senseless act—assist the agency’s fisheries department with materials, equipment, and many hours of donated time and labor.

ODFW says that the estimated 18,000 fish lost contribute to the lower Umpqua River fall Chinook fishery and would have joined approximately 60,000 other fall Chinook pre-smolts that will be fin clipped and released in June.

New Idaho C&R Record Westslope Cutthroat

There's a new westslope cutthroat trout catch-and-release (C&R) Idaho state record after an April 13 catch by Daniel Whitesitt.

According to the Idaho Fish and Game (IDFG), the 25-inch-long westslope cuttie was caught and released in the Clark Fork River in the northern part of the state and eased its way past the previous state C&R record for the species by an inch. That previous benchmark was a 24-inch specimen caught by Madison Nackos in 2001 at nearby Priest Lake.

A shallow-depth-of-field photo of a man holding a large cutthroat trout.
A new westslope cutthroat trout catch-and-release (C&R) Idaho state record was caught on April 13 catch by Daniel Whitesitt on the Clark Fork. (Photo courtesy of IDFG)

While westslope cutthroat trout are found in rivers and some lakes in central and northern Idaho, the IDFG notes in its news release that they rarely exceed 20-inches in length, making this catch an extraordinary angling accomplishment. The cutthroat trout is Idaho’s state fish–the three subspecies being westslope, Bonneville (sometimes called Bear River), and Yellowstone. 

If you'd like to learn more about Idaho's great fly fishing action for cutthroats and the challenges that the species faces, check out these articles about Idaho’s St. Joe River and Kelly Creek

Southern Steelhead Listed as Endangered under California's Endangered Species Act

It might not seem like much of a victory when a fish species has to be listed as endangered, but that's the case here after the California Fish and Game Commission (Link: https://fgc.ca.gov/ ) voted unanimously to list the Southern California steelhead as endangered under the California Endangered Species Act.

A steelhead in shallow water.
The California Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously to list the Southern California Steelhead as endangered under the California Endangered Species Act. (Photo courtesy of CalTrout)

According to CalTrout, that April 18 decision is a landmark event that will provide critically important protections for the iconic species that is not far from the brink of extinction.

"CalTrout applauds the Fish and Game Commission for underscoring the urgency of the situation with this vote today, and we thank the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for their comprehensive species status review as part of the CESA process and their long-standing support for southern steelhead recovery," read a statement on the CalTrout website. "CalTrout has been actively advocating for this listing since 2021, when we submitted a petition to the California Fish and Game Commission to fully protect southern steelhead as endangered under the state’s Endangered Species Act. The action today would not have been possible without the tireless efforts and advocacy of our many partners in Southern California working to save this species."

In addition to the critical status of the Southern California steelhead itself, CalTrout says that southern steelhead are crucial indicators of watershed health and river ecosystem integrity in the state. An aquatic "canary in the coal mine" species if you will, the CalTrout organization indicates that historically, tens of thousands of these steelhead swam in Southern California streams and rivers. But currently, their numbers are perilously low thanks to habitat loss, fragmentation, urbanization and other impacts. 

Hopefully, this recent step by the California Fish and Game Commission will serve as an important move to shore up what remains of the iconic species and help jumpstart their road to recovery.

Washington Officials Removing Invasive Pike After Illegal Introductions

Crews with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) began removal efforts this spring in an effort to eliminate illegal introductions of invasive northern pike on San Juan Island's Carefree Lake as well as the state’s Lake Washington.

WDFW notes that Carefree Lake is a reservoir on the San Juan County Conservation Land Bank’s Limekiln Preserve. Following reports from a local angler, in March, agency crews began using gillnets to survey the lake, capturing nine mature pike that included seven males and two females with thousands of eggs ready to spawn. In April, WDFW removed 13 additional pike in the ongoing effort.

Four northern pike laid next to each on a tarp.
At last count, 22 adult pike had been removed from Carefree Lake. (Photo courtesy of WDFW)

At last count, a WDFW news release indicates that 22 adult pike had been removed from the island water body, while two had been removed from Lake Washington. Those 24 invasive pike are believed to be the result of illegal introductions in recent years.

While a highly prized game fish in other parts of North America—including Saskatchewan where fly anglers flock to each summer to chase these huge, aggressive water wolves—the predatorial fish are harmful to native species in the Evergreen State.

"Pike can live more than 20 years, grow larger than 45 pounds, produce a large number of young, and consume large quantities of amphibians, birds, small mammals, and fish, including impacting Endangered Species Act listed salmon and trout,” said Justin Bush, WDFW’s Aquatic Invasive Species policy coordinator, in the news release. “If left unchecked, northern pike will overpopulate and cause significant impacts on Washington’s aquatic ecosystems.”

Because of that, and due to the fact that northern pike (Esox Lucius) are classified as a harmful and prohibited aquatic invasive species in Washington, if anglers catch northern pike in new areas, WDFW officials ask that they kill the pike immediately and do not release it. After that, anglers are asked to report it by calling 1-888-WDFW-AIS; by e-mailing officials at ais@dfw.wa.gov; or by using the Washington Invasive Species Council reporting form or mobile app at invasivespecies.wa.gov/report-a-sighting/.

The effort will continue on Lake Washington, a large freshwater lake adjacent to Seattle, and as resources allow, on the island too that lies in the Haro Strait just to the northeast of Victoria, British Columbia in Canadian waters.

The mainland eradication effort near Seattle will continue since, at the request of the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe and Governor Jay Inslee, along with the support of WDFW, the Washington State Legislature earlier this year provided some $700,000 in supplemental funding for predatory fish suppression and monitoring in Lake Washington. 

In coordination with the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, WDFW reports in its news release that it will continue netting targeted areas of the lake. That will aid the agency in helping to remove pike, walleye, perch, bass, crappie, shad, and other non-native fish that feed on young salmon rearing in Lake Washington or migrating through the lake to Puget Sound.

As the investigation continues into the illegal introductions—which violates state law—anyone with tips about how pike got onto San Juan Island or into Lake Washington are urged to contact WDFW police at: wdfw.wa.gov/about/enforcement/report; by calling 877-933-9847; or by anonymously texting 847411 (TIP411) by entering WDFWTIP, followed by a space, and then entering your report.

Didymo Discovered in Au Sable River

Sampling efforts by Michigan Trout Unlimited in late April have detected didymo cells in algae samples taken from submerged rocks and debris at two boating access sites on Michigan’s famed Au Sable River.

Long considered as one of the Wolverine State's great trout waters, the Au Sable spawned a type of skinny guide boat in the late 19th Century, served as the birthplace of Trout Unlimited in 1959, and is the home water of Joe Hemming, Fly Fisherman magazine's 2019 Conservationist of the Year.

But now the superb trout water has a new challenge after the two discoveries taking place in Michigan's Oscoda County, one at a boat access site located at the Parmalee Canoe Launch while the other one was at the Whirlpool Access location. 

Also known as "rock snot," the Michigan Invasive Species website and its news release about the discovery notes that didymo is a microscopic diatom (single-celled alga) that thrives in cold, low nutrient streams that many would see as pristine.

While believed to be native to some parts of the Great Lakes region, didymo blooms weren't observed until sightings happened in the St. Mary’s River in 2015 and the Manistee and Boardman rivers in 2021 and 2022, respectively. When conditions are right, existing didymo cells can form extensive blooms, or stalks, that can create dense mats covering up stream beds and reducing habitat for macroinvertebrates like mayflies, caddis flies, and stonefly nymphs. Those, of course, are crucial food sources for trout in the famed Au Sable River and elsewhere.

While no blooms have been detected at either access site thus far, Michigan Trout Unlimited, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and others are urging that anglers do their part to Clean, Drain, and Dry with properly cleaned waders, boats and equipment that is sanitized between every site visit.

“With trout season now open across the state and paddle sports gearing up for the summer, it’s important to remind everyone enjoying Michigan’s streams and rivers to take steps to decontaminate to prevent further spread of didymo and aquatic invasive species,” said Bryan Burroughs, executive director of Michigan Trout Unlimited, in the news release.

To report new didymo detections, use the Eyes in the Field online reporting system and submit at least three photos to aid in verification. To learn how to decontaminate gear, visit the news release cited here along with Michigan TU's Guide to Stopping the Spread of New Zealand Mudsnails. And for additional information on invasive species issues in the Wolverine State, visit the Michigan Invasive Species Program website.

Better Data for Bluefish: Get Involved and Go Fish!

The American Saltwater Guides Association has teamed up the GotOne! App to help fill crucial data gaps for one of the Atlantic coast’s most renowned piscatorial species, the bluefish

The ASGA is calling on the recreational fishing community to contribute catch data in an effort to better understand this essential fishery for the toothy, yellow-eyed devils that maul flies and delight fly anglers up and down the East Coast.

"Our community shares a deep concern about the gaps in recreational fishing data," notes the ASGA news release. "We recognize the potential impacts these gaps can have on critical processes like stock assessments and their influence on recreational fishing effort. ASGA remains committed to improving and discovering new cooperative solutions to these data needs."

Knowing that these data gaps impact other saltwater species too, the ASGA has spent the past several years expanding partnerships with a variety of state and federal agencies, working to provide top solutions—without spot burning results—with new data input strategies made possible by the GotOne! App, which is available at the Apple App Store and at Google Play.

This data—general geographic areas along with catch lengths—is deemed especially important since the most significant gaps in bluefish release data happens from coastal waters to the south of Virgina. ASGA says that if the angling community contributes even 100 new bluefish release lengths from the Southeast, it will help. 

Want to get involved? After downloading the app, and backlogging catches back to last season too, all that's left is to do is go fishing and upload the new data to help make fishing a better thing in the future for the Atlantic’s feisty bluefish!

Michigan DNR Asks Anglers to Report Tagged Brown Trout on Rifle River

With fly anglers enjoying late spring and soon, early summer, officials with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources are asking for a little angler help.

According to the Huron Daily Tribune newspaper and other Michigan news sites, officials are specifically asking anglers to help with a pilot study announced earlier this month, one that will help gauge brown trout movement in the Rifle River and their exchange between the river itself and Saginaw Bay. 

A woman holding a brown trout on a blue-water lake.
Officials are specifically asking anglers to help with a pilot study announced earlier this month, one that will help gauge brown trout movement in Michigan's Rifle River and their exchange between the river itself and Saginaw Bay. (Photo courtesy of Michigan DNR)

That two-year study is taking place through the use of such tools as internal acoustic telemetry tags, devices that have been implanted by biologists in approximately 20 brown trout.

According to a Michigan DNR webpage, local anglers have recently reported an increase in catch rates of lake-run brown trout. The agency notes that the Rifle River is annually stocked with the Sturgeon River strain of brown trout in an effort to create a resident stream fishery.

The news release indicates that the problem with all of this, however, is that this strain of the species can exhibit lake-run behavior, meaning that they migrate from the river to the Great Lakes. The DNR says that this pilot study will provide preliminary data to determine the extent to which this may be occurring and assist the DNR with future management decisions.

The Michigan DNR asks that anyone who catches a tagged or clipped fish is asked to report the information using the tag return form at Michigan.gov/EyesInTheField. Anglers will need to report the species, the length, the weight (if known), the capture date and location, the tag location (tagged or fin-clipped and where on the fish's body), the identification number (if tagged), and a full body photo of the fish (including the clip, if the fish is clipped).

The Wolverine State natural resources agency also reports that some tagged fish may have a Floy tag (a long, narrow, colored, noodle-like tag) but that that all tagged fish will have a clipped anal fin. Should you choose to keep the fish, the DNR has one more incentive to report the catch to officials and that's a possible reward of $100 if the transmitter isn't frozen/damaged and is returned.

For more information on the study, contact April Simmons at (989) 686-2295 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Angling Community Mobilizes to Protect Iceland's Atlantic Salmon

A graphic showing a maimed fish next to a net stating that wild Atlantic salmon have declined by 70%.
The Icelandic Parliament is deliberating a crucial bill that could determine the fate of wild Atlantic salmon and is actively seeking public input. (Graphic courtesy of North Atlantic Salmon Fund)

The angling community is rallying to protect the future of Atlantic salmon in Iceland, as the Icelandic Parliament deliberates a crucial bill that could determine the fate of this keystone species. This legislation, currently under consideration, has the potential to either safeguard or endanger the salmon population, and parliamentarians are actively seeking public input.

The urgency stems from a dramatic 70 percent decline in the Atlantic salmon population, largely attributed to the detrimental effects of open-net ocean pen farming. This practice has led to widespread disease, pollution, and genetic problems among salmon, pushing the species to the brink. Iceland remains one of the few havens for wild Atlantic salmon, making the need for stringent protective measures more critical than ever.

Conservationists are calling on the public to urge the Icelandic Parliament to implement a ban on open-net ocean pen farming and enact robust conservation laws. Such a move would not only help preserve the salmon in Iceland but also set a vital precedent for global conservation efforts.

Supporters are encouraged to sign a petition available on the North Atlantic Salmon Fund's (NASF) website and to promote this cause via social media.

With a looming deadline at the end of the month, time is of the essence. The angling community is uniting in a concerted effort to ensure the survival of the Atlantic salmon, emphasizing that the outcome of this legislative decision could have far-reaching consequences for conservation worldwide.


Lynn Burkhead is a senior digital editor with Outdoor Sportsmans Group. 




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