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Deschutes Closures, End Pebble, Wyoming Toads, FishCamp, Big Hole Flows, Melanistic Gar, and Striper Fundraising

Fly Fisherman News Briefs for 5-31-22

Deschutes Closures, End Pebble, Wyoming Toads, FishCamp, Big Hole Flows, Melanistic Gar, and Striper Fundraising

Steelhead projections are very low again this year for the Deschutes River and elsewhere, and closures have been implemented to protect the few forecasted fish. (Photo courtesy of the BLM/Bob Wick)

Deschutes River to Close to Protect Summer Steelhead

As part of a “fishery framework” put forth by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), portions of the Deschutes River will close as early as tomorrow (June 1) to angling. The temporary rules are as follows:

  • Steelhead and bass fishing is closed from June 1-Aug. 15 from the mouth at the west bound I-84 Bridge upstream to Pelton Dam.
  • Chinook salmon fishing is closed from Aug. 1-15 from the mouth at the west bound I-84 Bridge upstream to upper railroad trestle (approximately 3 miles downstream from Sherars Falls).
  • Coho salmon fishing is closed from Aug. 1-15 from the mouth at the west bound I-84 Bridge upstream to upper railroad trestle (approximately 3 miles downstream from Sherars Falls) and from Sherars Falls upstream to Pelton Dam.

Steelhead projections are very low again this year, and this move is designed to protect the few forecasted fish.

For more information, click here.

Help End Pebble Mine Once and For All

The coalition Bristol Bay Defense Fund is asking supporters to make one last stand against the proposed open-pit Pebble Mine that threatens Alaska’s Bristol Bay, which supports the world’s largest run of Pacific salmon.

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its revised Clean Water Act protections for Bristol Bay, taking the next step in the Section 404(c) process.

“The Bristol Bay watershed is a shining example of how our nation’s waters are essential to healthy communities, vibrant ecosystems, and a thriving economy,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a press release. “EPA is committed to following the science, the law, and a transparent public process to determine what is needed to ensure that this irreplaceable and invaluable resource is protected for current and future generations.”

Click here to read the full press release.

The agency has opened a comment period for the 404(c) process that could, once and for all, defeat this potentially devastating mine and the irreversible damage it could bring.

Section 404(c) of the Clean Waters Act basically gives the EPA veto power on projects where it is determined that “discharge of (dredged or fill material into the navigable waters at specified disposal sites) will have an unacceptable adverse effect on municipal water supplies, shellfish beds and fishery areas (including spawning and breeding areas), wildlife, or recreational areas.”

The 404(c) process was started for Pebble Mine under the Obama EPA, and the Biden EPA is now considering its validity. It’s only been used 12 times in the history of the Clean Water Act, and it’s never been undone.

“It’s durable, it’s lasting” Sam Snyder, Senior Campaign Manager for the Wild Salmon Center said at a webinar last fall.

Click here to add your name to a petition created by the Bristol Bay Defense Fund, to tell the EPA it’s time to end the threat. Click here to sign Stop Pebble Mine's petition regarding the comment period. 


Are There Still Big Fish in Wyoming?

Wyoming Wildlife magazine recently took a look at why Wyoming’s trout records are so old, and wondered if there are any truly huge trout left in the Cowboy State.

Are There Still Huge Trout in Wyoming?
Some people believe there are still exceptionally large trout in Wyoming. (Photo courtesy Liz Juers)

The state’s brown trout record has been in place since 1982, the brookie mark was last set in 1976, the rainbow record was landed in 1969, and the golden trout record is from 1948 (an 11-pound 4-ounce tank that is also the world record).

So are Wyoming’s huge trout a thing of the past? Or is the state possibly just underfished and they’re out there? Click here for the full story.

Learning the Ropes at FishCamp

In the Feb.-Mar. 2021 issue of Fly Fisherman magazine, author Herb Miller wrote the story “The Color of Fly Fishing,” and in that same issue, The Fly Shop, Redington, RIO, and Fly Fisherman started an annual Diversity Scholarship. The scholarship offered a complete set of fly-fishing apparel and tackle, travel expenses, and a week at The Fly Shop’s FishCamp at Antelope Creek Ranch in Northern California.

There are already dozens of other scholarships in the U.S. intended to get kids involved and educated in fly fishing, but this was aimed specifically at minority youth who might not otherwise have an opportunity to become fly fishers.

For the first quarter of 2021, Fly Fisherman accepted dozens of nominations for the award, and finally decided on Te-geen Lee Albers of Orleans, California. He was nominated by Eric Fieberg, owner of Green Riffle Guide Service and president of the Orleans Rod and Gun Club. Te-geen was 15 years old at the time, and is a Karuk tribal member from the Klamath River area. According to Fieberg, “Te-Geen has a deep passion for the river and the fish that have nourished his people since time immemorial. He fishes hard when he gets the chance, and he has volunteered with our local fisheries restoration programs, participating in Chinook spawning surveys and creek enhancement projects.”

Learning the Ropes at FishCamp
Te-geen Lee Albers was the recipient of Fly Fisherman's 2021 Diversity Scholarship, and spent a week at The Fly Shop's FishCamp for teens. (Photo courtesy Toby Nolan/The Fly Shop)

At the five-day, four-night camp, Te-geen bunked with other kids his age, learned casting skills, basic entomology, what fish eat, how to tie flies, and knots. They also practiced catch-and-release techniques, safe wading, and how to read the water on the private streams and ponds at the ranch. Luckily, Te-geen was at FishCamp in late July and enjoyed perfect weather and good fishing. In early August the FishCamp was evacuated due to the Antelope Fire in Siskiyou County. All the teenage campers left safely before the fire swept through the property owned by The Fly Shop owner Mike Michalak.

Five of the six wall tents used by FishCamp melted, along with some other outbuildings, but the $1 million main lodge was not damaged. With the trees burned all around it, Michalak credits adequate spacing around the building, and the quick work of the lodge manager, who sprayed a foam fire retardant on the building before evacuating.

Ranch Purchases Provide Water for the Big Hole

Montana’s Big Hole River is a historic, classic Western trout stream that winds through ranchland that hasn’t changed much in 100 years. It’s one of two rivers left in the Lower 48 that has a native population fluvial Arctic grayling, but it’s mostly known for its fly fishing for browns and rainbows. Its biggest challenge has always been water withdrawal for agriculture, and now climate change is exacerbating those problems, with river closures due to excessive water temperatures occurring as early as June in the summer of 2021.

To help alleviate these problems, Western Rivers Conservancy (WRC) has signed an agreement to purchase the 317-acre Clemow Cow Camp property, which provides access to the 148,150-acre West Pioneer Wilderness Study Area, the largest remaining roadless area in southwest Montana. Two Big Hole tributary streams flow through the property with 2.77 cfs of water rights.

WRC plans to convey the property to the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, preserve the flows of Cox and Old Tim creeks for the Big Hole, and conserve 154 acres of riparian wetlands and wet-meadow habitat.

WRC also purchased Eagle Rock Ranch along Wise River—a major tributary to the Big Hole. That ranch will also be conveyed to the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, and water rights to 11 cfs of Wise River flow will be dedicated to the Wise and Big Hole rivers. To read about fishing the Big Hole River, read “The Real Montana” by Ross Purnell at

Jet-Black Alligator Gar Landed on Fly Gear

Texas angler Terrell Maguire recently found himself in a battle with a rare and beautiful–and huge–prehistoric fish. Maguire, along with Justin Jordan of Lotus Guide Service, were fishing a marsh in southeast Texas when they landed the five-foot-long melanistic alligator gar. The fish was safely released. 

Jet-Black Alligator Gar Landed on Fly Gear
A beautiful five-foot-long melanistic alligator gar was recently landed on fly tackle in southeast Texas. The inset photo is the Spork fly, designed by Captain Collin Scoville, on which the gar was caught. (Photos courtesy Lotus Guide Service/Justin Jordan)

Alligator gar is a species that is more often caught using nylon rope rather than traditional fishing lures, much less flies. This ebony gar, however, took a Spork fly designed by Captain Collin Scoville of Galveston, which is a saltwater shrimp imitation typically used for redfish and sheepshead.

“So weird that it ate (the Spork),” Jordan said. “It’s an on-going joke how everything eats it.”

Click here for the full story.

Atlantic Striper Tourney and Symposium

The 11th Annual Cheeky Schoolie Tournament (presented by Simms) took place last weekend at Cape Cod, Mass, and raised over $27,000 for Atlantic striped bass conservation. Fishing was reportedly good as record catches were tallied. The proceeds will be split amongst the conservation organizations Keep Fish Wet, Stripers Forever, and the American Saltwater Guides Association (ASGA).

Prior to the tournament, the first annual Striped Bass Symposium took place in Cape Cod on May 20. Anglers, guides, scientists, and industry leaders came together to celebrate the springtime return of the Atlantic striped bass migration to the Northeast, and to create an in-person and digital forum to discuss science-based conservation of stripers. The event was co-hosted by Costa and the ASGA.

Preferred options were recently approved for Amendment 7 of the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass, but stripers still have a long way to recovery.

Read more about the Atlantic striper's plight here.

If you have fly-fishing news to report, please contact Digital Editor Josh Bergan.

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