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North Umpqua Steelhead, Loss of a Beloved Conservationist, Lefty Statue, Michigan Habitat, Fish-Passage Projects, & Properly Handling Bonefish

Fly Fishing News Briefs for April 29, 2022.

North Umpqua Steelhead, Loss of a Beloved Conservationist, Lefty Statue, Michigan Habitat, Fish-Passage Projects, & Properly Handling Bonefish

Only 449 wild steelhead returned to the North Umpqua River last summer, which was the lowest run on record. (Photo courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management)

North Umpqua Summer Steelhead Program Eliminated

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission has voted to eliminate the North Umpqua River’s hatchery summer steelhead program. No hatchery steelhead were stocked last summer due to wildfires.

The hope is that ending the hatchery program will aid in the recovery of the North Umpqua’s vulnerable wild steelhead population. Only 449 wild steelhead returned to the North Umpqua River last summer, which was the lowest run on record.

Commissioners heard testimony from two panels representing opposing views on hatchery summer steelhead, as well as from the Coquille Indian Tribe, the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, and a cross-section of community members.

The decision comes within a couple of months of the passing of the North Umpqua’s patron saint, Frank Moore, who fought for years to protect the river and its wild fish. His legacy lives on with this ruling.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) also announced that it is increasing monitoring of North Umpqua summer steelhead in anticipation of possible fishing closures due to low returns, and that fishing near tributary mouths will likely be closed again this summer. A survey will occur at Winchester Dam starting May 1. ODFW encourages anglers to practice healthy catch-and-release methods, land fish quickly, use barbless hooks, and keep the fish in the water as much as possible.

More information is available here.

Beloved Conservationist and Shop Owner Dies in River Accident

A beloved conservationist, fly shop owner, and outdoorsman died while attempting to retrieve a free-floating raft, Wednesday, April 6, in New Hampshire. Jonathan Zukowski was 31 years old.

Fly Fishing News Briefs for April 29, 2022
Johnny Zukowski was an adventurous angler who wanted to catch whatever was in the water. (Photo courtesy Justin Hardesty)

Zukowski is remembered as a passionate angler, fishing guide, fly tyer, and native-fish defender. His contributions as a board member of the Native Fish Coalition (NFC) will live on, as will his legacy as an upstanding human.

A gofundme page has been set up to raise funds for a memorial service, donations in his honor, and to keep his shop, Mountain High Fly, up and running. His family has also requested that donations in his memory go to the NFC.

Lefty Kreh statue planned in Frederick, Maryland

A Frederick, Maryland group known as the Friends of Lefty Kreh (FOLK) is finalizing plans to create a life-sized bronze statue of Lefty in Frederick’s Baker Park. The sculpture will be placed in Culler Lake and will depict Lefty knee-deep, fly casting.

Lefty was born and grew up in Frederick, where he earned his iconic nickname as a basketball player. His work on fly-casting mechanics and instruction is still regarded as some of the most important and beloved work on the subject. The timeline for the statue is unknown.

FOLK is accepting donations for the project.


Fish Habitat Restoration and Connectivity Projects Slated in Michigan

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Habitat Grant Program has identified 12 projects to benefit fish and fisheries statewide. The grants are supported by a nearly dollar-for-dollar match from partner contributions.

Fly Fishing News Briefs for April 29, 2022
Michigan's Fisheries Habitat Grant will fund construction design for the removal of the high-hazard Brooklyn Dam on the River Raisin to allow fish migrations to upstream lakes and tributaries. (Photo courtesy of Michigan DNR/Chris Freiburger)

Projects of note to fly anglers include:

  • Brook trout habitat restoration in the Pigeon River headwaters
  • Stream habitat restoration in the East Branch of the Au Sable
  • Spanning the headwaters of the Jordan River and Deer Creek
  • Dam removal on the West Branch Tittabawassee River
  • Restoration and connectivity in the Upper River Raisin Watershed

“These projects are critical to improving and maintaining populations of fishes and other aquatic species,” Joe Nohner, a resource analyst with the DNR Fisheries Division, said. “They will improve fish migration in over 210 miles of Michigan streams and make these areas safer for people through the removal or replacement of five dams and 11 culverts.”

More information is available here.

Federal Funding for Fish Passage

About $38 million has been earmarked for fish passage projects across the country, as part of the Biden Administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Noteworthy projects include:

More information is available here.

BTT Launches Bonefish Catch & Release Campaign

Fly Fishing News Briefs for April 29, 2022

The non-profit Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT) has announced a campaign to educate anglers on the optimal way to handle bonefish, which increases survival rates and conserves healthy populations. The techniques have been developed in concert with some of the top guides in the Florida Keys and Bahamas through years of practice, with the goal of making them standard practice for anglers, guides and tournaments in order to ensure healthy bonefish stocks for the future. The techniques are outlined on the campaign landing page.

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