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Greenbacks, Yellowstone, Championships & More

Fly Fisherman News Briefs for October 11, 2022.

Greenbacks, Yellowstone, Championships & More

Officials in Colorado have confirmed that the Centennial State's official state fish, the greenback cutthroat trout, is officially on the comeback trail, even reproducing on its own after once being thought to be extinct. (Photo courtesy Colorado Parks & Wildlife)

Autumn is now in full command on the fly angler’s calendar, which means a smorgasbord of fly fishing opportunities are on the table. Stripers and false albacore are eating on the East Coast, bull redfish season is around the corner, largemouth bass are fattening up for the winter on bait-balls of threadfin shad, and streamer season is in full swing for trout aficionados.

With that colorful autumn backdrop, it’s time for the latest edition of Fly Fisherman News Briefs:

Colorado Green Cutthroats on Comeback Trail

There's proof in Colorado that there's always a chance for a feel-good comeback story in the wild, even in the most dire situations. Officials in Colorado have confirmed that the Centennial State's official state fish, the greenback cutthroat trout, is officially on the comeback trail, even reproducing naturally in its native drainage after once being thought to be extinct.

The greenback cutthroat was listed as extinct in the 1930s by federal officials according to a news report on the Colorado Public Radio news site. But over a period of 13 years several decades ago, researchers found small populations of the fish in remote spots of Colorado. But that joy was tempered when researchers also discovered that the fish weren't purebred specimens of greenback cutthroat trout.


That all changed in 2012 when Colorado fisheries officials found a purebred population of the state fish in a 3.5-mile section of Bear Creek. Because of that rare find, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) has managed to keep populations sustainable thanks to a repopulation effort at a trout hatchery facility.


"Each spring, CPW aquatic biologists have strapped on heavy electro-fishing backpacks to painstakingly hike up Bear Creek to catch greenbacks and collect milt and roe–sperm and eggs," the CPR story quotes CPW officials as saying.

And because of that effort, the greenback cutthroat trout are now repopulating a section of Herman Gulch near Silver Plume, Colo. While reintroduction efforts in other spots haven't worked yet, and the greenback cutties face a host of problems ranging from disease, climate change, and non-invasive predators like brook trout and brown trout, the news is still far better than it once was since the fish now has at least a fighting chance.

"This is just another affirmation that our conservation practices work and that we can save species on the brink," said Kevin Rogers, an aquatics researcher for CPW, in the Colorado Public Radio story.

Washington State Closes Fishing on Coastal Streams

Most streams and rivers on Washington's coast were closed on October 8 to salmon and all game fish due to lows flows until further notice. According to a press release, about 50 coastal streams from the Olympic Peninsula to Willapa Bay were closed. Anglers can find the list of specific rivers by checking the emergency regulations on the WDFW webpage.




"Historic low flows this summer are creating conditions that limit fish movements and result in higher-than-expected harvest rates," said James Losee, WDFW Region 6 fish program manager. "These areas are closing to fishing until river conditions improve and salmon are able to reach the spawning grounds in adequate numbers."

Fishery managers plan to reopen when flows increase, or stock assessment information suggests that salmon are successfully migrating upstream.

Public Comment Sought for Glacier Park Plan

Public scoping is underway and comments are being sought by officials with Glacier National Park for a plan that would depopulate Gunsight Lake of non-native rainbow trout and replace them with genetically pure westslope cutthroat trout and bull trout.

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Scenic image of Gunsight Lake in Glacier National Park, with low clouds hanging over mountains
Gorgeous Gunsight Lake in Glacier National Park. (Photo courtesy NPS)

While NPS officials note that this is only a proposal and no decision has been–or even can be made until after the NEPA process has run its course–the plan centers around removing the rainbows with the fish toxicant rotenone. Historically fishless, Gunsight Lake was stocked with rainbows and other non-native fish in 1916 and again from 1920 through 1935.

The news release noted that the lake is well positioned to "...provide secure habitat for native fish due to downstream waterfalls that block upstream non-native fish migration." The proposed work comes after a similar effort in 2019 when Glacier National Park entered a partnership with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Glacier National Park Conservancy to undertake a similar project that removed non-native Yellowstone cutthroat trout from Camas and Evangeline lakes prior to translocating cutthroat trout and bull trout in both water bodies.

Comments are being accepted through Oct. 26, 2022 at the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) website.

U.S.A. takes Sixth at World Fly Fishing Championships in Spain

Late last month and early this month, the International Sport Fly Fishing Federation (FIPS-MOUCHE) held its 41st World Fly Fishing Championship in four rivers and a lake around Asturias, Spain. Team U.S.A. placed sixth in the team competition, with Team U.S.A.'s Cody Burgdorff taking 14th in individual competition and teammate Devin Olsen finishing 18th.

Host nation Spain captured the team title in the event held annually since 1981. France was runner-up and the Czech Republic took bronze. Belgium, Finland, the U.S., Portugal, Canada, the Slovak Republic and Italy all rounded out the Top 10.

On the individual side, France’s Julien Daguillanes captured the gold medal to go along with his crown from 2016 when the event was held in Eagle County, Colorado near Vail.

The rest of the individual Top 10 field included David Arcay (Spain, second place); Ruben Santos (Spain, third place); David Chlumsky (Czech Republic, fourth place); Julien Lorquet (Belgium, fifth place); Sebastien Vidal (France, sixth place); Sebastien Delcor (France, seventh place); Gregoire Juglaret (France, eighth place); Andres Torres (Spain, ninth place); and Manuel Pedroso (Portugal, 10th place).

Non-Profit Group Uses Fly Fishing to Aid in Addiction Recovery

Reeling in Recovery logo

In a world made up of sparkling waters, natural beauty, and hard fighting fish—not to mention the peace and quiet of simply being outdoors—fly fishing can help lead people on the road to recovery from addiction.

Such ideas help fuel the Smyrna, Ga.-based non-profit Reeling in Recovery, which is seeking "To support people in active recovery from alcohol and drug abuse by connecting them to each other and nature through the therapeutic sport of fly fishing. Reeling in Recovery retreats are free, and open to those who have chosen to live their personal truth - a life without alcohol and drugs."

To learn more about the group, it's various recovery assistance programs, special events, board of directors, or to make a donation, please visit the group’s website or send an e-mail to info@reelinginrecovery.org.

Yellowstone River Resiliency

From forest fires to abnormally warm weather to non-native predators, and recent a historic flood, the Yellowstone River near Livingston, Montana has faced plenty of recent challenges. But it remains remarkably resilient as one of the nation's top trout fisheries.

That's the gist of a story by writer Jeff Zilgitt as he traveled to the river and some nearby tributaries recently to gain an understanding of what one of the nation’s most important trout streams is facing.

Fly angler wading and fishing in the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone River
Clean, fishable water, and willing trout, are still the norm on the Yellowstone, shown here in the Black Canyon of Yellowstone National Park. (Joshua Bergan photo)

Especially after the historic flood this summer in mid-June when rainfall and snow melt sent some 52,000 cubic feet per second (CFS) of water roaring down the famed trout water in Yellowstone National Park and downstream into Paradise Valley to the north. That fishing was doubtful in the aftermath of the historic flooding.

There was damage, including a washed-out bridge that still hasn't been removed and an eight-mile stretch of the river still closed to waterway traffic, but the author and his friends also found clean, fishable water, trout willing to eat flies (including a sizable brown), and some hope for the future.

Click here to read the full story. 

Film Shows Recovery of Farquhar Atoll and its Flats Fishery

For a number of years, the remote tropical flats at Farquhar Atoll, lying in the remote islands of the Seychelles, were a chunk of volcanic rock that tempted fly-rod-toting travelers to a long session of travel to the Indian Ocean north of Madagascar.

With Fly Fisherman magazine reporting on unreal fishing conditions of bird-eating giant trevally smashing flies and melting fly-reel drag systems, it was hard to resist checking airline fares and booking a trip to such a far-flung corner of the globe.

“Unless you're a veteran of the Indian Ocean, it's very likely that you'll catch a new species of fish every day at Farquhar,” wrote Fly Fisherman editor and publisher Ross Purnell. “But don't come for just the fish. The terns and other seabirds, the unbelievable numbers of turtles on the flats and nesting on the beaches under a full moon, giant coconut crabs, ancient Farquhar tortoises, and many other creatures and plants create an isolated biodiversity that is both rare and wonderful. Whether or not you catch a fish you'll cherish every day at Farquhar because there's always something new to see and experience.”

But with resource mismanagement, massive Cyclone Fantala that devastated the region in 2016, and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the Atoll was in trouble and unseen for a period of more than a year. But a new film captures a group of anglers who became the first fly to see the island and its recovered fishery.

Check it out here.

Feds Urged to Hit Pause Button on Vessel Restrictions

Angling advocacy groups have urged federal officials to hit the pause button on a proposal from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) that seeks to make amendments to the North Atlantic Right Whale Vessel Strike Reduction Rule that would additional speed restrictions for boats as small as 35 feet (down from 65 feet).

The NOAA Fisheries group is proposing the changes in an effort to "...further reduce the likelihood of mortalities and serious injuries to endangered right whales from vessel collisions, which are a leading cause of the species' decline and a primary factor in ongoing Unusual Mortality Event."

To achieve that end, the proposal would modify spatial and temporary boundaries, would include more vessel sizes that are subject to speed restrictions, would create a "Dynamic Speed Zone" to implement mandatory speed restrictions when whales are known to be present outside of the boundaries, and would update the speed rule's safety deviation provision.

But the pushback from angling groups notes that while the intentions of the proposed rules are good, there are flaws and stakeholders weren't consulted in the year-long development of this proposal.

"While we all support the intention of this rule to protect right whales, by not consulting with the recreational fishing and boating community at any point during its development, NMFS has put forward a deeply flawed rule that will have severe economic impacts and provide little benefit to right whales,” said Glenn Hughes, president of the American Sportfishing Association, in a news release. “The fact that the proposed rule fails to meet 6 of the 12 criteria NMFS is using to justify selecting this option is clear evidence that a pause is necessary.”

BTT Preps for Science Symposium and Flats Expo

Bonefish and Tarpon Trust logo

After helping in Hurricane Ian relief efforts on the West Coast of Florida, the Miami, Fla. based Bonefish & Tarpon Trust is now turning its eyes to the 7th International Science Symposium & Flats Expo. The symposium has not taken place since 2017. 

Scheduled next month in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. from Nov. 4-5 at the PGA National Resort, and presented by BTT Platinum Sponsor Costa Sunglasses, the gathering will bring together stakeholders from across the world of flats fishing, a group that includes notable anglers, guides, industry leaders, government agencies, scientists, artists, and writers, all seeking to celebrate the resource, the amazing pastime of flats fishing, and to advance the cause of conservation that BTT has championed for years now.

The theme of the 2022 Symposium is Conservation Connections. The organization says that the theme comes with an emphasis on addressing known management needs with actionable science.

Featuring presentations on important fishery-related research projects being conducted by BTT and collaborating scientists, there will also be panel discussion groups, casting clinics, fly tying clinics, art presentations, photography work, and more. The two-day event will also celebrate the latest Circle of Honor inductees, a group consisting of Fly Fisherman's 2018 Conservationist of the Year Sandy Moret, Chico Fernandez, Dr. Andy Danylchuk, and more.

Space is limited at the triennial event, so register and get tickets early.


Lynn Burkhead is a senior digital editor. 

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