Foundations & Fly Fishing

Foundations & Fly Fishing thumbnail

Naturally, fly fishers focus on fish.

We learn to cast so we can catch trout. We hone our tying skills so we can catch musky. We learn to cast further so we can catch bonefish. We adorn our offices with pictures of fish, we look at photos of fish online, and we doodle fish in the margins of whatever paper is in front of us.

It only makes sense then that fly fishers want to protect fish.

We legislate catching and releasing them. We advocate keeping them wet. We volunteer our time, donate our money, and cast our vote to sustain fish. Each is reasonable. Each of these things has, in some measure, been effective in protecting or restoring the fragile fisheries we enjoy. Each requires dedication and passion.

It is all good. All of it is good and virtuous and worthwhile. But it all needs to be kept in perspective.

After all, they’re just fish.

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Researchers Find Broad Impacts from Lake Trout Invasion

Researchers Find Broad Impacts from Lake Trout Invasion thumbnail
Timothy Knepp, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Introduction of non-native lake trout in Yellowstone Lake has affected organisms from the microscopic level in the lake to large animals in the region, according to newly published research.

Zooplankton, cutthroat trout, river otters, osprey, bald eagles, bears and, likely, elk are among the creatures whose numbers, diet and behavior have been altered as a result of the presence of the invasive fish, says an article that appears today (March 20) in the scientific journal Science Advances.

LINK (via: UW Navigation)

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Moving Forward with Magnuson-Stevens

Moving Forward with Magnuson-Stevens thumbnail

No matter if you’re wading through mountain creeks searching for rising trout sipping bugs or stalking the Pacific Northwest’s rocky beaches on the hunt for slashing salmon, it’s human nature to key into what we can see above the water’s surface. However, any angler worth their salt knows that it is far more important to understand the dynamics beneath the surface, out of sight.

Strangely, the same is true in the halls of Congress. While we tend to focus on what we see on cable news or on a politician’s twitter feed, the real work of Congress is done behind the scenes and often goes unreported and unpublicized. As a result, to truly understand the work our elected officials are doing, it is paramount to explore what is happening beneath the surface, out of the public eye.

It is only through this exploration that anglers can appreciate the work done by several key senators – Washington’s Maria Cantwell, Massachusetts’s Ed Markey, and Connecticut’s Richard Blumenthal – to defang the Modern Fish Act and remove the provisions that would have done irrevocable damage to our oceans and fish stocks. Yes, the Modern Fish Act is now law thanks to a few strokes of Trump’s pen on New Year’s Eve, but those cheering on the sidelines were celebrating a mostly hollow victory.

To comprehend the importance of these senators’ successful efforts to remove the bill’s most harmful provisions, it helps to understand the Orwellian nature of the Modern Fish Act. Despite the promise of the title, the Modern Fish Act was anything but modern. Once you get past the name and dig into the bill’s content, it’s clear the title was an attempt to pull the wool over the public’s eyes. It was an unfortunate ploy but a necessary one considering a more accurate title like the “Empty Oceans Act” would have been about as palatable as a rotten salmon.

The regressive nature of what was the Modern Fish Act is a stark contrast to the great strides America has made over the last four decades managing our marine fisheries. This progress is the direct result of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, a groundbreaking fisheries law enacted in 1976 that, to this day, remains the primary law governing marine fisheries in U.S. federal waters as well as the international gold standard for effective fisheries management.

By taking a science-based approach and instituting requirements for responsible harvesting, the Magnuson-Stevens Act has been able to enhance the long-term biological and economic sustainability of America’s marine fisheries. In fact, this landmark fisheries law is responsible for rebuilding 45 fish stocks, revitalizing commercial fishing communities, and enhancing saltwater recreational fishing opportunities for all Americans.

Last Congress we had the opportunity to build upon the progress we have made over the last four decades by reauthorizing the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Congressional leaders could have doubled-down on their commitment to science-based management. They could have strengthened requirements that prevent overfishing. They could have implemented policies that would help rebuild decimated fish stocks. And they could have created programs that ensure the protection of vital marine habitat in areas like the Chesapeake Bay. Instead, many in Congress took a radically different approach by championing a bill that tried to resurrect the failed policies of our past.

Throughout its history, the reauthorization of Magnuson has always been a bipartisan effort with a shared goal: improving the sustainability of our marine fisheries. Regrettably, the Modern Fish Act was a radical departure from this rich tradition as it was a largely partisan effort that sought to undermine Magnuson by implementing policies that would do things like erode Magnuson’s reliance on “best available science” and curb the development of innovative management techniques. Fortunately, thanks to the leadership of Senator Cantwell and other fish advocates in the Senate, these dangerous provisions were all removed from the bill that eventually landed on the president’s desk.

Those strokes of Trump’s pen marked the end of a bitter but ultimately successful fight to prevent the Modern Fish Act from undoing the progress we have made over the last forty years. And now with the Modern Fish Act behind us and a new Congress in place, we are hopeful for proposals that move the ball forward on sustainable fisheries management and strengthen requirements that prevent overfishing and rebuild decimated fish stocks.

Doing so won’t be easy, as the champions of the Modern Fish Act will no doubt fight hard to achieve what they could not last Congress, but hopefully they recognize that leaders like Senator Cantwell want to move forward, not backward, in our ability to manage fishing sustainably. As anglers and lovers of these fisheries, we must seize this moment and unite to create a better future for our oceans and fish.

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TAKE ACTION: Sign Now To Protect Wild Trout

TAKE ACTION: Sign Now To Protect Wild Trout thumbnail
Duane Raver, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Montana state officials want to poison a public pond outside of Belgrade to kill nonnative smallmouth bass and restock it with rainbow trout.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks released the plan for public comment Wednesday afternoon. The operation would focus on one public pond at the River Rock subdivision outside of Belgrade, which is known to host smallmouth bass.

LINK (via: Bozeman Daily Chronicle)

From the Madison River Foundation:

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks proposes to use rotenone to eliminate known sources of smallmouth bass in ponds within the Gallatin Valley. Smallmouth bass would thrive in many area rivers and would be a detriment to wild trout populations that exist in these rivers.

Of particular concern is smallmouth bass being introduced into the lower Madison River. Smallmouth bass would thrive in the lower Madison River due to the thermal characteristic as well as the high abundance of crayfish. The spread of smallmouth bass from the lower Madison River would likely result in smallmouth bass establishment in the Gallatin River, East Gallatin River, Jefferson River, Upper Missouri River, and potentially the Big Hole and Beaverhead rivers.

TAKE ACTION HERE

 

 

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5 Tips for Landing Your First Tarpon Presented by Scientific Anglers

5 Tips for Landing Your First Tarpon Presented by Scientific Anglers thumbnail

The emotion of sheer adrenaline that follows hooking a Tarpon on the fly is unparalleled by anything in fly fishing. It is no wonder they are one of the world’s most sought-after saltwater gamefish, with shiny scales the size of a grapefruit and dramatic aerial displays. Tarpon fishing is also far from a walk in the park, your mental approach plays as big of a part as any in the equation.

TIP 1: Just Breathe.

This is first on the list, as being in control of your nerves is the foundation for successful saltwater fly fishing. When the window of opportunity strikes without warning, as it often does chasing Tarpon, you must be able to react (or not) to the situation at hand. A great exercise is to focus solely on your breath before you make a cast. If you’re lucky, there is a time buffer between when your guide will see the fish and when you have a logical shot to take. Use this time to relax your mind and body, and your chances of making a well-executed cast are drastically improved.

TIP 2: DON’T LIFT THE ROD!

For a trout fisherman it can be a difficult urge to fight, but lifting the rod when the fish eats the fly can be detrimental in making a proper hook set. Keeping the rod low and strip-setting with the fly line will drive the hook in with the pressure it needs to penetrate their bony mouths.

TIP 3: Study the Fishery Beforehand

What is the primary feed where you’re fishing? Will you be fishing brackish, off-coloured water in which the flies must hold a large profile and push water? Will you be fishing primarily juvenile or giant, migratory Tarpon? Preparing for your trip is not something to be taken lightly. Talk to people who have invested time in the fishery, or consider booking a trip through a booking agent.

TIP 4: Clear Your Line at all Costs

When a Tarpon eats boat-side, the angler is often left with a heap of line on the ground and a beast on the other end of it that is now in full control. There are few things more deflating than watching the line wrap around the reel seat and feeling the leader break your class tippet, if you have a friend in the skiff it never hurts to ask for help with ensuring the line clears smoothly.

TIP 5: Choose the Right Leader

Leaders for Tarpon fishing are often not very long, but ensuring you are using heavy or light enough material for the situation is imperative. Tarpon leaders consist of a butt section, a class section, and bite tippet. The class tippet is lighter in diameter than both the butt and the bite tippet, providing a breakable link in the leader should it be needed. A few factors that come into play when building a leader such as the size of fish, water clarity and angling pressure. Lighter bite tippets constructed of fluorocarbon can be effective in periods of high sun, flat water, or fish that receive ample amounts of pressure. I use Scientific Anglers tippet material to make my tarpon leaders, you can check out their full line here

Lastly, have fun with it! Tarpon fishing is difficult, but the rewards always outweigh the effort when the line comes tight. There will be days when not one fish seems to want to commit, and days where you just flat out cannot find the fish. Regardless, find as much time to bask in the opportunity to chase this magnificent gamefish. Tarpon fishing is electric, humbling, and downright addicting. 

Hooked Up on Tarponville Lodge in Costa Rica
This article was written by Jordan Oelrich, guide and owner of  Interior Fly Fishing Company. If you have always wanted to chase Tarpon with a fly rod but never knew where to get started, Interior Fly Fishing Company has one space remaining on a hosted trip to Tarponville Fishing Lodge in Costa Rica this April. For more information on this final space, contact Jordan at info@interiorflyfishingco.com or call (250) 463-2266

4 Baits That Dominated The 2019 Bassmaster Classic

4 Baits That Dominated The 2019 Bassmaster Classic thumbnail

Storm Arashi Vibe

Ott Defoe won $300,000 at the 2019 Bassmaster Classic and majority of his tournament winning fish came on the Storm Arashi Vibe. Ott targeted shallow water while picking apart marinas, eddies, and rocky shorelines with this versatile crankbait. Keeping his boat parallel and tight to the shoreline allowed him to cover water while subtly putting off the action of a fleeing crawfish. Knowing that fish were keyed in on crayfish, Ott opted for the rusty craw pattern Arashi which he tweaked using a black sharpie.

Z-Man Chatterbait Jackhammer

While the Z-Man Jackhammer is known for draining anglers wallets, the Jackhammer is undoubtedly the preferred bladed jig among touring pros. Tournament waters were both high and muddy when compared to normal March conditions which resulted in shallow water patterns allowing to really shine. Anglers beating the bank quickly picked up their bladed jigs and started pounding fish.

The well thought out design from the Jackhammer helps it swim effortlessly through the water without rolling or spinning. Water displacement is key in muddy water and the jackhammer pushes H20 like no other.

Rapala DT Series

If you pick up a bait that is stamped with the Rapala name, feel confident that it’s going to catch fish. The Rapala DT Series is no different and it was proven throughout the weekend when Rapala pros dominated the derby. The DT series gets down to the desired depth quickly while putting off a wobbling action that is unmatched. From crankin’ shallow water cover to targeting deep offshore shoals, the Rapala DT Series is the bait for the job.

Fish were shallow and related to common cover like rocks, docks, shale, and brush. Mike Iaconelli, Jacob Wheeler and tournament champion Ott Defoe all relied on a crayfish patterned DT Crankbait to bring in a bag each afternoon.

Big Swimbaits

While this wasn’t an established pattern over the weekend among other anglers – California native Chris Zaldain swung for the fences all weekend using big swimbaits.

Most of us know that bass eat shad but, some anglers fail to realize how big of a shad some bass will actually eat. Chris Zaldain helped prove the ”Big Baits = Big Fish” theory this weekend by filling his daily limits using large shad style baits.

The Tennessee River is loaded with oily rich shad that bass gorge on whenever given the chance. Shad are nutrient dense and easy for bass to consume which is part of the reason lunkers grow so large in these parts. Chris’ took advantage of this bite by winding big, California style swimbaits mimicking the patterns of roaming shad littering the Tennessee River system.

Featured Article Image Thanks To: Bassmaster.com

The Best Lake I’ve Ever Fished: Josh Bertrand’s Arizona-Desert Gem

By Mason Prince

Follow the Salt River from Phoenix, Arizona for about 80 miles to the northeast and you’ll find Theodore Roosevelt Lake, the largest reservoir in the state. There, on one of the many sun-soaked days in Arizona, you will probably find Major League Fishing pro Josh Bertrand plugging away on his favorite lake.

Raised on Roosevelt
For 18 years, the now 30-year-old Bertrand has fished the waters of the central Arizona lake, and it has always been special to him. The desert is an inhospitable environment for most, but it’s where Bertrand feels right at home.

“I love it because it’s out in the desert and I grew up fishing this lake,” Bertrand said. “I have a lot of memories there. It’s the biggest lake we have in central Arizona and our best tournament lake.”

The Grand Canyon State only sees about 8.04 inches of rainfall per year on average, which does not come as a surprise to most. Because of that limited precipitation, Roosevelt Lake has undergone plenty of changes over the course of Bertrand’s time fishing there.

“What’s cool about it is that it has a lot of water level fluctuation,” Bertrand explained. “Every year it’s like a different lake. One year it’s 50 percent full, the next it’s 80 percent. It’s always changing.”

Tournament Memories
Bertrand’s fishing career began on Roosevelt during a team tournament he entered with a friend when he was 14 years old.

“It was with about 150 boats and I thought I was fishing the World Championship,” Bertrand said through a chuckle. “I thought it was such a big deal at the time.”

As the years went by and a young Bertrand got more tournaments under his belt, the memories started to stack up. Roosevelt is responsible for some of his favorite moments with friends and family.

“I was fishing in a night tournament there one time and me and my buddy had the biggest bag I ever caught with 34 pounds,” Bertrand recalled. “Another tournament I was with my dad – we struggled all night and didn’t have much in the boat. Then, I’ll never forget, on back-to-back casts we caught an 8.5 and a 10-pounder to win the tournament. I reeled in the 10-pounder and I still don’t know how I got that thing in the boat.”

Beating the Brush
Like much of the state, Roosevelt Lake is surrounded by desert. There’s not much in terms of vegetation surrounding the water, or in the water iteself, but Bertrand says there is copious amounts of brush. When the water level is high and facilitates more brush in the water, Bertrand knows exactly which bait he reaches for.

“I love to use a crankbait when I’m out there,” Bertrand divulged. “I love deep cranking with a Berkley Dredger 17.5 and a 20.5. It’s also a great flipping lake because of the brush. I do a lot of flipping with a Berkley PowerBait Power Hawg.”

Bertrand thinks one of the greatest characteristics of the lake is the number of quality bass that live there.

“You can always catch them when you go to Roosevelt Lake because it has great numbers of fish,” Bertrand said. “It’s about an hour and a half from my house and I have other lakes closer to me, but I always choose to go to Roosevelt. Even on a slow day, I can catch 15 to 20. On a good day I could catch 50 to 100.”

Bertrand has learned many lessons throughout his years on the desert lake, including one he continues to use to this day on the Bass Pro Tour.

“The lake has really taught me how to target bigger fish because the lake has so many,” Bertand explained. “To catch bigger ones you have to specifically target them out there, and that’s helped me as a professional learn how to get some bigger numbers in the boat, wherever I am.”

As he prepares to head out the North Carolina for Stage Three of the Bass Pro Tour, you can bet that Bertrand will try to spend some quality time on his favorite lake before he heads back east.