March 03, 2023
By Fly Fisherman Staff
On February 10, 2023, the New Mexico Supreme Court issued a ruling upholding that the public has the right to access public waters and streams that flow through private property, even if the streambed is on private land. This ruling upholds the state's long-standing tradition of allowing public access to its waterways.
The case was brought before the Supreme Court after a group of landowners in northern New Mexico claimed that they owned the streambeds that flowed through their properties and that the public did not have the right to use them. The court ruled that while the landowners do own the land adjacent to the streams, they do not own the water flowing through them.
The decision is significant because it affirms the public's right to use New Mexico's waterways for recreational activities such as fishing, boating, and swimming. It also clarifies the state's property laws, which have been a subject of dispute for many years.
The ruling was met with mixed reactions. Some landowners expressed disappointment, stating that they feel their property rights have been infringed upon. However, many conservation and recreation groups celebrated the decision, as it provides greater access to New Mexico's natural resources and helps to preserve the state's unique ecological systems.
Low Salmon and Steelhead Redd Counts in California
Two large rain events in January prevented surveyors from counting steelhead and salmon eggs in several California rivers near San Francisco, though they suspect the streambeds were scoured and many redds and eggs were washed away. According to the Marin Independent Journal (MIJ), Lagunitas Creek, Redwood Creek, Pine Gulch, and Olema Creek are all expected to have lower returns of the endangered anadromous fish this year.
“To date, we’ve seen only 12 steelhead redds and three adult steelhead, which is a record low for mid-February,” Marin Municipal Water District ecologist Eric Ettlinger said in the MIJ. “We were expecting a small run this year based on low numbers of steelhead smolts that migrated to the ocean in 2021. Still, after seeing so few coho salmon, a large run of steelhead would have been nice.”
The article goes on to state that 84 coho redds, 42 chinook redds, and 13 steelhead redds were counted in Lagunitas. Zero redds were found in Pine Gulch, a few steelhead redds and one chinook redd was located in Redwood Creek, and only one coho egg bed was found in Olema Creek–all before the storms.
“We’re crossing our fingers and hoping we missed fish in the storms when we get out in the summer,” Point Reyes National Seashore fisheries biologist Mike Reichmuth said. “I’m hoping to be pleasantly surprised.”
After Dam Removal Announcement, Klamath River Faces New Threats
Elsewhere in California, a new report in High Country News indicates that dam removal on the Klamath River might not be the end of the river’s problems. Representatives from the Yurok, Karuk and Klamath tribes believe that flow cuts stated to meet minimum flow requirements in the upper river for endangered suckerfish are really a smokescreen masking that the real reason: to save water for irrigators. The upper-river flow cuts mean that the lower river, where the salmon and steelhead run, will also suffer.
According to the article by B. ‘Toastie’ Oaster and Jake Bittle: “In the past few years, as drought in Oregon and California lowered water levels on the Klamath, Reclamation struggled to manage the competing needs of the salmon and the suckers: If the suckers get the water, the salmon die, and if the salmon get the water, the suckers die. Reclamation’s management of the river pits salmon and the Yurok and Karuk tribes that protect them in the lower Klamath basin against suckerfish and the Klamath Tribes that protect them in the upper basin.”
The Klamath drainage feeds over 200,000 acres of agricultural land, which many believe is not a sustainable figure. On top of that, the Bureau of Reclamation, which manages the Upper Klamath Lake dam, released more reservoir water than irrigators required last year, lowering water levels significantly.
“What that did was it drove down the lake really, really far, and so we are essentially starting with an empty bathtub,” Amy Cordalis, general counsel for and citizen of the Yurok Tribe, said. “And so, then what [the bureau is] doing is saying, ‘oh, no, we don't have enough for species…and so now we have to decide, which fish are we going to kill?’ And they've decided it's the coho this year.”
Colorado Adds to Gold Medal Waters
About 12 miles of the Gunnison River and 20 miles of the Taylor River were recently designated as official Colorado Gold Medal Waters. The Gunnison section from Almont to the U.S. 50 bridge, along with the Taylor from Taylor Park Reservoir dam to Almont, were added to the scrolls.
According to the Colorado fishing regulations brochure: “Gold Medal Waters are defined as any river or lake which is producing a standing stock of at least 60 pounds per acre and at least 12 trout that are 14 inches or longer per acre on a sustained basis. River segments designated as Gold Medal Waters must be a minimum of 2 miles in length, and lakes must be a minimum of 50 acres.”
The state currently has 315 miles of Gold Medal streams and three Gold Medal lakes.
Troutfest Colorado Slated for July at Coors Field
The second annual Troutfest Colorado will take place at Coors Field on Saturday, July 8 in Denver. The free event (if you register ahead of time) will be from noon to 6:30pm, and will feature vendors, casting areas, youth activities, fly-tying, industry presentations, stadium tours, ballgame food & beverages, raffles, and games.
Sponsors and vendors are asked to contact email@example.com for more information.
Click here for ticket registration.
Isaac Loves his Hooman Hosting Raffle for Guided Trip and Orvis Rods
The non-profit Isaac Loves his Hooman (ILHH) is holding a fundraiser raffle to give away a float trip for two on Wyoming’s fabulous North Platte River with Four Seasons Anglers, along with two Orvis rods and reels, and Scientific Anglers fly line and leaders. The package is worth over $2,000.
Tickets are available here and can be purchased through May 1. The drawing will be held on May 14. Entries are $25 each, or five for $100.
ILHH is a 501C3 that places service dogs with veterans and first responders, along with raising awareness for mental health and suicide prevention. According to the website, 22 veterans a day are lost to suicide. Service dogs have been proven to be a comfort to those suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome and other mental health issues.
Tenth BTT Florida Keys Dinner & Circle of Honor Inductions Ceremony Set for April 20
Bonefish & Tarpon Trust is holding its 10th annual Florida Keys Dinner & Circle of Honor Inductions ceremony on Thursday, April 20 at 6:00 pm at the Cheeca Lodge & Spa in Islamoralda, Florida.
The event brings together anglers, scientists, and conservationists to celebrate the organization's accomplishments and induct new members into the Circle of Honor.
The Circle of Honor is a recognition program that honors individuals who have made significant contributions to the conservation of bonefish, tarpon, and permit fisheries. Each year, a new group of individuals is inducted into the Circle of Honor for their dedication and leadership in the field of conservation.
The Florida Keys Dinner & Circle of Honor Inductions ceremony is a significant fundraising event for Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, and the proceeds from the event go towards supporting the organization's research and conservation efforts. Tickets start at $100.
Bonefish & Tarpon Trust is a nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to the conservation of bonefish, tarpon, and permit fisheries and their habitats. The organization works to protect and enhance the populations of these fish species through research, education, and advocacy.
Tickets are available here.
Michigan Awards $3.6 million for Invasive Species Projects
The state of Michigan today announced that 35 projects will share $3.6 million in grants through the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program, some of which are focused on fisheries.
In particular, grants have been awarded for:
- Refining the potential for early detection of didymo (rock snot) using environmental DNA and testing environmental variables that may lead to stalk-producing “blooms.”
- Coordinating red swamp crayfish surveys across the Clinton and Rogue river watersheds.
- Testing the effectiveness of household cleaners to decontaminate waders, boats and equipment exposed to didymo and New Zealand mudsnails.
- Training paddle sport enthusiasts to decontaminate boats between uses and to look for and report aquatic invasive species.
- Spreading the “Clean, Drain, Dry” message using a mobile boat wash at popular boating access sites in southeast Michigan.
The full list of grant recipients, project descriptions and award amounts is available on the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program website at Michigan.gov/MISGP.