June 14, 2022
By Lynn Burkhead, OSG Senior Digital Editor
While Yellowstone National Park and the Yellowstone drainage are under siege with flood waters, there’s good news in Florida concerning the state’s ongoing battle to find clean water for the Everglades, and new access in Wyoming. And that’s not to even mention that 100,000 Lahontan cutthroats have made their way to Lake Tahoe for the summer fishing season.
As the June full moon has southern bluegills hitting their beds in the South and runoff continues in the West and tarpon season winds down in the Keys, here’s this week’s edition of flyfisherman.com news briefs:
Lahontan Cutthroat Stocked at Tahoe
If catching the native Lahontan cutthroat trout of Lake Tahoe is something on your summer bucket list this year, odds have gone up in recent days this month as the Lahontan National Fish Hatchery in Gardnerville, Nev. begins summer stocking operations.
According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, hatchery officials began stocking 100,000 catchable Lahontan cutts on June 1 and will continue to do so throughout the summer season as conditions allow.
Being stocked at various public access points in both California and Nevada, nearly 20 percent of the trout will be tagged this summer to help biologists assess growth, survival, and distribution of the cutthroats. That will also help them evaluate the success of the stocking program and what, if any changes, might be necessary in the future.
In addition to the boost of recreational angling possibilities in Tahoe, the stockings also have significance biologically and culturally to the Washoe Tribe, the original stewards of the species. Today, the tribe is an important ally, key partner, and significant stakeholder as these restoration projects take place within Washoe ancestral lands.
Lahontan cutthroats are a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act and were listed in 1970 prior to the 1973 modern ESA act itself. Overfishing, spawning tributary damage, logging, diversion of water, pollution, and invasive species all contributed to the decline with Lahontan cuts disappearing from Tahoe eventually. This summer’s stockings are an ongoing part of efforts to restore the species and its habitat in the region.
Stocked intermittently in Lake Tahoe since 2011, these Lahontan cutthroats are the Pilot Peak strain, which grows quickly and achieves tremendous size according to biologists. As the only trout native to the Tahoe basin and are the largest cutthroat trout species in the world, these are the same trout found in Pyramid Lake, which attracts fly anglers from all over the U.S. and fly-fishing world.
Wildlife officials note that anglers 16 years of age and older must possess either a valid California or Nevada fishing license and follow all sportfishing regulations. Anglers are also encouraged to report any tagged fish that they might catch this summer by calling (775) 861-6355.
BLM Unlocks Acreage on North Platte
The news of easier access is welcome news to fly anglers on the North Platte River southwest of Casper. That’s where the Bureau of Land Management has announced that it has acquired 35,670 acres to make it easier for angler access on the Wyoming trout stream.
According to Nicole Pollack of the Casper Star-Tribune newspaper, the federal agency purchased the Marton Ranch, a property that borders nearly 9 miles of the river east of Alcova and it connects 40,000-acres previously inaccessible. The federal acquisition reportedly creates a 118-square-mile block of contiguous public land that, again, makes a pathway into state and federal lands that were formerly unreachable.
A part of President Joe Biden’s America the Beautiful Initiative, this represents the largest land purchase by BLM in Wyoming to date. Known also as the 30x30 plan—an effort to conserve 30-percent of lands and waters across the U.S. by the year 2030—the purchase addresses one of Wyoming’s biggest problems, that of landlocked lands inaccessible by hunters and anglers.
“This acquisition marks a big step forward for improving public access, and is a unique opportunity to conserve crucial wildlife habitat at a landscape scale,” said Kevin Christensen, BLM High Plains district manager, in a news statement.
First Steps Towards Hudson Canyon National Marine Sanctuary
The public comment period is now open through Aug. 8, 2022 for people to let the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) know their views concerning the proposed Hudson Canyon National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of New Jersey and New York.
Through virtual public meetings, in-person public meetings, and electronic communication, NOAA wants to see what the public feels concerning the historic area that provides habitat for a wide range of ocean species including sperm whales, sea turtle, deep-sea corrals, and others. The rich oceanic diversity supports valuable commercial and recreational fisheries, recreational diving, whale watching, birding and more.
The area, which contains numerous shipwrecks within its deep waters and submarine canyons, also provides scientists with areas to conduct valuable research as well as being important regions historically and culturally for indigenous communities who have inhabited the region for more than 10,000 years.
If you would like to comment, please visit the website at https://sanctuaries-noaa.gov/hudson-canyon.
Anti-Everglades Bill Axed by Florida Governor
As the battle for the aquatic soul of Florida continues, Governor Ron DeSantis, fancied by some to be a presidential race contender in 2024, vetoed Florida Senate Bill 2508.
At a ceremony in Fort Myers last week, DeSantis axed the controversial “bad-water bill” that has been contentious since it was filed, threatening to reduce funding and priority status of the critical Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir site and give preferential treatment of the Big Sugar industry in regards to Lake Okeechobee irrigation water operations.
The senate bill drew fiery protest, including more than 156,000 e-mails and 43,000 petition signatures, as well as numerous protestor trips to the state capitol in Tallahassee. That wasn’t enough to keep the state’s full legislature from passing the bill on March 14, although it wasn’t nearly as robust as the original version was according to Captains for Clean Water.
“While the bill that was ultimately passed by the Legislature is an improvement over what was initially filed, SB 2508 still creates unnecessary and redundant regulatory hurdles which may compromise the timely execution and implantation of Everglades restoration projects, water control plans and regulation schedules,” DeSantis wrote in a veto letter to the Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd, according to media reports.
Gov. DeSantis also signed Florida’s “Freedom First Budget” last week, which allocates a record $1.2 billion for Everglades restoration and water resources for fiscal years 2022 and 2023.
If you have fly-fishing news to report, please e-mail Digital Editor Josh Bergan.