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Supporting Snook: FWC Seeking Public Comment for New Regulations

Plus ASGA Seeking Support for Stripers, Grand Canyon National Monument, Gallatin River Impaired, Battenkill Festival, and more in this edition of Fly Fisherman News Briefs.

Supporting Snook: FWC Seeking Public Comment for New Regulations

The Bonefish & Tarpon Trust is concerned about the lack of data available for assessing habitat conditions in the proposed management plans. (Photo courtesy of Scott Lones)

Ski seasons are over after a winter of record snowpacks, melting high country snows are fueling runoff season in the West, and everywhere across the land, spring is in command as fly anglers take to the water.

Some of the year's best fishing is happening in the Southland right now, and other parts of the country will be joining the fly rod parade soon. As fly fishing activities ramp up in various locales, that helps prime the pump for another round of news briefs in the Fly Fisherman magazine world:

BTT Raises Concern for Florida’s Snook Management Proposal

While the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT) generally supports FWC's proposal for 10 different snook management regions that will receive regular updates thanks to a suite of seven metrics (including spawning potential ratio, relative abundance, habitat, harmful algal blooms, fishing effort, air temperature, and stakeholder feedback), the Miami-based conservation group is also concerned about a lack of data being available to accomplish the goals in the proposed management plan. 

To address that, the BTT is proposing select metrics that it says are highly relevant to snook biology and harvest; a better determination for available data sets; highlighting data gaps in the metrics; collaborating with other agencies and groups to fill in those gaps; tweak existing internal programs as necessary, or develop new ones to fill in gaps; and designing a comprehensive sampling program that gives better metrics and ensures proper sampling plan implementation.

"If we wait until we see further declines in the adult fishery before taking action to address these data gaps, then it's already too late," the BTT said in a news release. "We know from research in the Indian River Lagoon that reduction of healthy juvenile habitats will decimate the snook population.

"We all have the same common goal: healthy stocks that enable anglers to keep fishing. Consistently restricting harvest is not the long-term solution to achieving that goal. Better habitat and better water quality to support productive fisheries is the answer."

The BTT urges interested parties to speak up for Florida snook by contacting the FWC and making them aware of the need to collect and apply more and better data in an effort to make sure that the proposed metrics are good enough to manage one of Florida's most treasured piscatorial resources.

ASGA Again Asking for Help for Atlantic Stripers

The American Saltwater Guides Association (ASGA) is seeking signatures on an official letter to be sent to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) asking that the Striped Bass Management Board follow the rules it established. Said rules include that the striped bass stock must be rebuilt within 10 years or 2029.

A striped bass held half in half out of the water.
The American Saltwater Guides Association is calling the ASMFC Striped Bass Management Board to Initiate Addendum II to Amendment 7 with the goal of rebuilding this fishery by 2029. (Photo courtesy of Blane Chocklett)

"A new rebuilding plan that has a minimum of a 50% chance of success must be initiated, and those regulations need to be in place by the 2024 season," according to a blog post by ASGA.




ASGA believes that the striped bass fishery is at a critical point and action needs to be taken at the upcoming May meeting. Last year, some areas had good fishing due to a large number of mature fish, resulting in over 35 million pounds of striped bass harvested. ASGA is concerned that the slot limit will fully exploit the robust 2015-year class, which is the last one to have a significant recruitment year. The decrease in recruitment following 2015 will make it challenging to rebuild the stock to target biomass levels by 2029. The ASMFC Striped Bass Board needs to change its course at the May meeting to increase the probability of rebuilding the stock.

For more information or to sign on with the ASGA, click here.

Battenkill Fly Fishing Festival This Weekend

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It’s time for the 2nd annual Battenkill Fly Fishing Festival, which will be held from Thursday through Sunday, April 27-30 in Arlington, Vermont and is presented by the Arlington Common.

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A weekend that starts with a kickoff cocktail party, the event will look to celebrate the fly fishing spirit, while also looking to raise funds to protect and enhance the famed Battenkill River. The event will also hope to provide the Arlington area with a hub for community, art, and wellness activities.

Fly fishing legend Tom Rosenbauer, the familiar face, voice, and Chief Enthusiast for Orvis, as well as the host of the popular Orvis Fly-Fishing Podcast, will present a keynote talk based on his upcoming book, Finding Trout. Rosenbauer will also talk about strategies that Battenkill anglers can use to find new waters to fish, what sections of those new waters to target, and how to read new water as it is discovered with a fly rod in hand.

Other topics discussed at the Battenkill Festival will include Doug Lyons on hunting for brown trout on the river and Orvis endorsed guide Brew Moscarello discussing the use of streamers and other methods on the Battenkill. Well-known fishing photographer Pat Ford will present on his craft, along with Neville Crabbe of the Atlantic Salmon Federation giving an update. Also, Bob Mallard will discuss New England's rare and wild blueback and sunapee trout and Mike Valla will discuss tying the Battenkill Trifecta of trout patterns (the Atherton, Oatman, and Wulff).

Ticket prices vary for the festival's various days and events, ranging from $16 to $100. To obtain tickets, visit the festival website.

Montana Files Proposal to List Gallatin River as Water Quality Impaired

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle recently reported that Montana state officials have proposed to list a stretch some 40 to 50 miles long on the mainstem of the Gallatin River, a section running from the border of Yellowstone National Park to the confluence of Spanish Creek, as "Water Quality Impaired." The listing sought is the well-known trout stream having water quality impairment issues due to too much algal growth.

Noting a Montana Department of Environmental Quality news release, the Chronicle’s story noted that state officials had officially submitted a proposal to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the Big Sky State’s quest to list the middle segment of the Gallatin as impaired. Several years’ worth of scientific data and visual evidence was cited as the reasoning behind the proposal request. 

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The Gallatin River, from the Yellowstone border to Spanish Creek, has seen large harmful algae blooms in recent summers. (Joshua Bergan photo)

If the EPA approves the proposal, the Montana agency will reportedly devote significant monitoring resources for further study over the next three years, in addition to identifying thresholds for controllable pollutants that are found to be aiding the algal growth. That data will help create a planning tool known as TMDL (total maximum daily load) according to the Chronicle story authored by writer Helena Dore. That TMDL data will reportedly allow the DEQ to develop a Gallatin River Watershed Restoration Plan as it collaborates with local stakeholder groups.

“Excess algae is impacting recreation and aquatic life on this portion of the river,” said Lindsey Krywaruchka, DEQ Water Quality Division administrator, in the newspaper report. “A science-based plan will help provide a roadmap to improve water quality and protect the river for future generations.”

UPDATE: State of Montana Officially Declares Gallatin River Water-Quality Impaired

Nearly $36 Million Provided for Saving Salmon, Other California Species

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife recently announced that it is awarding grants of nearly $36 million dollars in the Golden State's ongoing work to manage, restore, and protect its natural resources.

That figure includes $20 million in Drought Emergency Protection Grants that will aid 10 projects that reportedly demonstrate the CDFW's support from and collaboration with Tribes and landowner interests in the Shasta and Scott rivers and their watersheds. According to a news release, those 10 projects include habitat improvement, fish-passage-barrier removal, and groundwater recharge efforts. 

CDFW also announced that it is awarding $9 million from the same fund to allocate to Tribes in the Klamath River mainstem for post-McKinney Fire debris flow damage remediation efforts, stabilization of slope and sediment in that fire zone, and restoration work for salmonids there. And some $6.9 million will be allocated by the agency to nine projects that support wetlands restoration efforts in California, along with working with wildlife corridors and climate resiliency efforts, seeking nature-based solutions. 

“These projects will help us save our struggling salmon populations,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham, in the news release. “The Klamath, Scott and Shasta rivers are historic salmon strongholds where this kind of restoration investment will make a big impact. Rebuilding these watersheds and reconnecting salmon within them is one step further toward salmon recovery. The investments to support these 10 projects is happening in parallel to the largest river restoration in America’s history now underway to remove four dams on the mainstem Klamath River.”

Grand Canyon National Monument Proposal

The Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition recently called on President Joe Biden to permanently protect some 1.1 million acres of their homelands surrounding Grand Canyon National Park. That would take place with the creation of a Grand Canyon National Monument. 

The monument’s proposed name would be Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument. According to a Grand Canyon Trust news release, Baaj nwaavjo means "where tribes roam" for the Havasupai Tribe and i’tah kukveni means "our footprints" for the Hopi Tribe.

A small creek in a canyon in Grand Canyon National Park.
A proposed National Monument in Grand Canyon National Park would protect the small tributaries of the Colorado River from uranium mining. (Photo courtesy NPS)

"The creator gave us a gift, and that gift is in the form of the Grand Canyon," said Hopi Tribe Chair Timothy Nuvangyaoma, in the release. "That gift is not only to the tribal nations that have that intimate connection with it, but it’s a gift to the state of Arizona, it's a gift to the United States, it's a gift to the entire world."

As proposed, the National Monument would "...protect sites of profound cultural, historical, and spiritual importance to the tribes." Also, the lands included in the intertribal monument proposal are already noted to be federal public lands, including National Forest lands, so no state or private lands would be included in this proposed national monument according to organizers.

"We’d like to see co-management as a part of the proposal…and we ask Biden to ensure that tribes are involved in the co-management of the monument," said Richard Begay, director of the Navajo Nation Heritage and Historic Preservation Department, in the news release.

At an announcement press conference from 11 local Tribal Nations and Congressman Raúl Grijalva and Senator Kyrsten Sinemah, it was also noted that the monument proposal would also conserve key fish and wildlife habitat in the Grand Canyon region, as well as permanently protect the region for uranium mining activities. 

According to a Trout Unlimited news release, the proposal comes after multiple failed attempts to pass the Grand Canyon Protection Act in Congress and with more than 500 abandoned uranium mine sites scattered across the region. Those abandoned mines are negatively impacting local drinking water, local springs and wells, water bodies miles away, and the Colorado River.

"Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument is broadly supported by Arizonans across party lines and has long been a priority for TU in the state,” said Nathan Rees, Arizona field coordinator for Trout Unlimited, in the release. “Given the toxic history of uranium mining in this region, we commend the leadership of the Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition to enact the wishes of millions of people hoping to preserve the beauty of this idyllic landscape. We cannot undo the toxic history that’s been left in this region, but we can prevent new contamination from destroying its future.”  

New Report on Wind Power’s Effects on Offshore Fisheries

Illustration of offshore wind power mooring and anchoring technology.
A conceptual drawing of mooring and anchoring technology for floating offshore wind energy platforms. (Illustration courtesy of the U.S Department of Energy)

A report on the interactions between fisheries and offshore wind has been released online. The report was developed through a collaboration between the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA), NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center, and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), and summarizes the results of a symposium that gathered information for the report. The project aimed to enhance understanding of existing science and data gaps related to offshore wind interactions with fish and fisheries. The symposium brought together various experts from the United States and Europe, including fishermen, fishing industry representatives, wind energy developers, and scientists. The success of the project has led to the development of a series of workshops focused on fisheries and floating offshore wind energy.

Nomination Period Open for NOAA's SFBP Council

Thanks to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, which became effective in January 2023, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Secretary of the Interior are seeking nominations through May 11 for individuals to be considered for membership in the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council.

A part of the Federal Advisory Committee Act Group, the Council advises both Secretaries on aquatic conservation and restoration efforts in freshwater, estuarine, and marine environments that benefit fishery resources, enhance recreational boating in those spots, and encourages industry, public, and government partnerships to advance those causes.

The Council, which may consist of no more than 19 members, has three non-voting ex officio members including the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the assistant administrator of NOAA Fisheries, and the president of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. The Secretaries will select the other 16 voting members based on several different qualifications.

To ask questions or gain information about the application process, e-mail the USFWS' Tom McCann at thomas_mccann@fws.gov or call (571) 329-3206.


Lynn Burkhead is a Senior Digital Editor for Outdoor Sportsman Group.

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