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Eclipse to Affect Ozark Trout Country

Plus YNP mussel prevention, new Montana regs, Missouri smallies, Georgia trout, Wyoming flows and more in Fly Fisherman's News Briefs for April 5, 2024.

Eclipse to Affect Ozark Trout Country

One of the places to be affected by the total eclipse will be the tailwaters of Arkansas’s White River and Norfork River systems near Mountain Home, as well as some of the trout streams in southern Missouri. (Photo courtesy pixabay.com)

It’s time for another round of Fly Fisherman News Briefs, and we’ll cut to the chase here since the skies are about to grow dark next week in one of the biggest news stories of the year thus far.

Eclipse to Affect Ozark Trout Country

After years of anticipation, and a media buildup over the last several months, it’s finally time for the 2024 Great American Eclipse as the moon’s shadow prepares to sweep across the central U.S. on Monday, April 8.

One of the places to be affected by the moon’s shadow as it blocks out the sun’s rays briefly in the total eclipse will be the trout-rich tailwaters of Arkansas’s White River and Norfork River systems near Mountain Home, as well as some of the trout streams in southern Missouri. 

path of totality
Path of totality on April 8, 2024. (Shutterstock image)

For some, the idea that a solar eclipse might affect the angling pastime is whimsical, so what’s the big deal you ask? For starters, even though solar eclipses happen from time to time, the odds of them sweeping across one point on the planet are small indeed—Austin, Texas, which is in the path of totality on Monday last saw a total solar eclipse in 1397—and experts say that only 1 in 10,000 human beings ever observe a total eclipse.

As I wrote recently for Fly Fisherman’s sister publication, Game & Fish Magazine, another is because there’s at least some evidence that the sudden dimming of daylight tricks fish into believing that twilight is falling and they had better eat an evening meal. G&F digital editor Scott Bernarde found that to be true as he caught ‘em back in August 2017 as the last solar eclipse swept across America, and so did some researchers in Missouri who found that there was a sudden uptick in bass-catching success as darkness fell on the Show Me State during that solar eclipse.

So, if you have the chance to get out and uncoil a fly line on Monday, you could come up with an epic memory and photo opportunity if you can tempt a rainbow or brown into taking a fly as total darkness envelops the landscape for a few minutes.

If you don’t live in the eclipse’s path of totality—which will start across the U.S. at the Texas/Mexico border, sweep northeast across Arkansas and portions of the Midwest, and exit the country on the western side of New England—get out and fish anyway, since everyone in the country will see at least a partial eclipse.

Yellowstone Proposal to Reduce Invasive Mussel Risk

Zebra mussels have wreaked havoc in a number of places from the Great Lakes to Texas. In the Lone Star State, the discovery of a single zebra mussel in Lake Texoma back in 2009 has led to the invasive species infesting 32 water bodies at last count, with detection also happening in four other water bodies.

Obviously, officials with Yellowstone National Park want to keep zebra mussels (Dreissena polymporpha) out of the park and its pristine trout-filled waters at all costs. That's why the park has a proposal out now with restrictions for the launch of some types of motorized boats to reduce the risk of a zebra mussel invasion ever getting started. This is especially noteworthy now that zebra mussels–and quagga mussels (Dreissena rostriformis bugensis)–have recently been detected within a day's drive of the country's ground zero of wild trout fishing.

A Yellowstone National Park ranger squatting and inspecting the rear of a boat.
To try and protect Yellowstone NP waters, the National Park Service is proposing a 30-day dry time requirement for complex, motorized boats and sailboats before they can launch in the Park. (Photo courtesy of the National Park Service)

In addition to those discoveries on the Snake River near Twin Falls, Idaho (2023) (LINK) and South Dakota's Pactola Reservoir (2022), Yellowstone NP apparently dodged an ecological bullet in both of those years when the Park's Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) inspectors intercepted and denied launch to mussel-fouled watercraft according to a news release.

To try and protect Yellowstone NP waters, the National Park Service is proposing a 30-day dry time requirement for complex, motorized boats and sailboats before they can launch in the Park. The NPS is also proposing to deny launch to any watercraft (motorized or non-motorized) that has been previously fouled by these invasive threats, no matter how long ago that was. 

It seems likely that this proposal will pass, given the fact that Yellowstone NP is headwaters to the Yellowstone, Snake, and Missouri River drainages. To make public comment prior to the April 5 public comment deadline, visit the website.

Recommended


Montana Reg Setting Process Underway

After a series of public meetings traveled through the Big Sky State of Montana last month and April, constituents from Kalispell to Billings and a number of points in between have had a chance to speak their peace as the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission wades into the middle of its regulation setting process for the 2025-26 fishing year.

Those meetings might be especially poignant now, in light of how fast the angling landscape is being challenged from invasive species threats to climate change, to dramatic reductions of trout numbers on some of the state's most treasured streams.

All of that and more has helped spur a change with the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks regulation setting process with a recent move from a four-year cycle to a two-year cycle. As FWP Commissioners consider regulation proposals and changes for the coming two-year cycle, topics being considered range from the definition of a hook to changes in trout regulations on certain streams to gear restrictions to seasonal closures on streams like the Ruby River to name a few.

Why just a few detailed in this space? Well, quite honestly, the proposed changes are simply too numerous to adequately cover here in this space. To gain a more in-depth look at the proposals being considered, join in on the FWP's statewide virtual meeting on Tuesday, April 9 at 6 p.m. The Zoom Webinar ID number is 870 0376 7411 and the passcode is 557613.

If your favorite water is potentially affected by these changes, the Montana natural resource agency is currently in the middle of gathering public comment now and will do so through April 26, 2024, in addition to a final public comment opportunity in late August. You can make a public comment online, by e-mail at fwpfishcomments@mt.gov, or by mail to: Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Attention: 2025/26 Fishing Regulation Scoping, PO Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620.

Bronzeback Water Cleanup in Missouri

To help keep one of Missouri’s rivers in pristine shape, and to inspire more support for its smallmouth bass, Missouri Smallmouth Alliance member Kevin Cracraft is hosting a Castor River clean-up on Sunday, April 14, 2024. The clean-up effort will kick off at 9 a.m. and will occur in rain or shine at the Castor River Ranch Campground just south of Marquand, Mo. True to form, since April is a tremendous month to float the upper sections of the river, Cracraft is urging participants to bring a kayak or canoe to help with the trash clean-up as well as some springtime fishing at its best.

If you're interested or have questions, send an e-mail to Kevin at cracraftk@aim.com. For more on the Missouri Smallmouth Alliance, visit the organization's website.

Missouri is a fly-fishing spot that often flies under the nationwide radar of fly anglers consumed with such things as trout throughout much of Montana, stripers off Long Island’s Montauk Point, massive muskies in the Midwest, and big tarpon in Florida

That flying under the radar is likely much to the delight of local fly anglers in Missouri who regularly enjoy some great fly fishing opportunities for wild and stocked trout in picturesque streams scattered across the southern and central portions of the state, as well as at the Taneycomo tailwater that our Outdoor Sportsman Group sister publication Game & Fish Magazine recently covered in-depth. 

But rainbows and browns are only one part of the Show Me State fly fishing show since Missouri also has some of the Ozarks region's best smallmouth bass fishing waters. 

More Trout Heading for Georgia Waterways

Fans of Georgia’s upper Toccoa River as it flows into Lake Blue Ridge–and receives a spring run of rainbows–along with some of the other Georgia streams that offer trout fishing are all smiles these days as such waters are getting a new influx of stocked trout from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

A man standing on a stocking truck watching the hose dump fish.
Stockings of trout into such Georgia waters as Rock Creek, Dicks Creek, Holly Creek, Johns Creek, and the Tallulah River, come thanks to a long-stranding partnership between the Georgia DNR and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. (Photo courtesy of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources)

The stockings of trout into such Georgia waters as Rock Creek, Dicks Creek, Holly Creek, Johns Creek, and the Tallulah River, come thanks to a long-stranding partnership between the Georgia DNR and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. And in recent times, those stockings are increasingly bigger.

“In my 18-year career with Georgia DNR, I have never seen trout this large routinely being stocked from our hatcheries," said John Lee Thomson, Georgia DNR WRD Trout Stocking Coordinator. "Several years ago, we increased the average size of stockers from 9 to 10 inches. This year, we also have increased the trout in our ‘big fish program’ from 12 to 14 inches. These trout can be found in our largest water bodies with good public access. So, if you have ever dreamed of catching a trophy trout on public waters, this Spring will be a great opportunity.”

To learn more about the trout fishing opportunities found in Georgia, visit the Georgia DNR's webpage dedicated to the topic or visit the agency's interactive map "Trout Streams of Georgia".

Shoshone River Flushing Flows

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) is alerting anglers of the Shoshone River about significant increases in water flow between April 8th and 11th. This planned "flushing flow" aims to improve the river's fishery.

A dam with lots of brown water flowing through.
A collaborative effort between WGFD, the Bureau of Reclamation, and Willwood Workgroup Two will significantly increase in water flow between April 8th and 11th. (Photo courtesy of Wyoming Game & Fish)

This project is a collaborative effort between WGFD, the Bureau of Reclamation, and Willwood Workgroup Two. Willwood Irrigation District will initiate a controlled release of sediment from Willwood Dam on April 9th. To aid in transporting this sediment downstream, Buffalo Bill Dam will release increased water flows.

The increased water flow aims to improve overall river conditions by flushing out sediment buildup. WGFD assures the public that the flow adjustments are coordinated to minimize impacts on irrigators, recreation, and aquatic life.

Here's a breakdown of the flow schedule:

  • April 8th: Flow increases to 700 cubic feet per second (cfs) to facilitate sediment release from Willwood Dam.
  • April 9th: Morning - High-intensity, short-duration sediment release. Concurrent Buffalo Bill Dam releases will be increased to 5,000 cfs by 2 pm, then reduced to 4,000 cfs by 4 pm and maintained overnight.
  • April 10th: 8 am - Buffalo Bill Dam releases decrease to 3,500 cfs and remain until afternoon of April 11th.
  • April 11th: Afternoon - Flows gradually decrease to 1,000 cfs.

WGFD urges caution for anyone using the Shoshone River during this period.


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




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