One more week for Addendum VI comments, latest news from ASGA

One more week to get those comments in, people! If you have not yet commented, please do so today. For those of you who don’t striper fish, thanks for bearing through all this ASMFC stuff, and please consider adding your voice to our cause. The infographic below is telling. You can find the email/snail mail address to send comments to here. You must use the subject line Striped Bass Draft Addendum VI.

I promise we’ll get back to some trout stuff soon!

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Farmington River Report 9/25/19: The soft hackles have it

I guided repeat client John yesterday and we were blessed with spectacular weather. Water was low (130/160cfs, permanent TMA/Unionville) but very fishable and cool, even down south. John wanted to work on his wet fly game, so we headed up to Riverton to take advantage of the recent stocking. If the DEEP trucks made a recent visit, we saw no evidence of it: we hit three marks in two hours, and waded hundreds of yards of water without a single touch. Other anglers we encountered also reported blanking. Very curious.

Look like a good place for a SOB-ing trout to be hiding out? I certainly thought so. John covering some very sexy water with a team of three.

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Thus spanked, we headed down to the permanent TMA for a nymphing lesson. John had never done any nymphing, but he took to it quickly, and before too long was rewarded with a gorgeous Survivor Strain brown. We took one more rainbow, and both fish came on the top dropper, a tiny (sz 18 2x short) SHPT.

Parr marks, haloed spots, clipped adipose and obstreperous behavior once netted clearly IDed this fish as a Survivor Strain brown. Not a bad first Farmington River brown, nor a bad first trout ever on a nymph!

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We finished up swinging wets on the lower river and brought a few more fish to hand. Nice job John in some challenging conditions!

This seems like a good time to mention that I am a teaching guide, and if you’re like John — someone who has had some success in fly fishing but wants to expand their skill set — maybe you should consider a few hours on the water with me. I teach anglers of all levels, from beginner to experienced. You can find out more here.

 

 

 

What went down at last night’s ASMFC Draft Addendum VI hearing

I attended and publicly commented at last night’s ASMFC Striped Bass Addendum VI hearing in Old Lyme. (There’s another public hearing tomorrow, Wednesday September 25 in Bridgeport, CT at Port 5 Hall. Hopefully the AC will be working!)

My general impressions: People are passionate about striped bass. The meeting was well attended, with roughly 50-60 people. About half of them chose to comment. Most are in favor of conservation, and in many cases for more conservation than is being proposed. Many aren’t thrilled with the ASMFC‘s track record. Many cited enforcement as a problem, and asked for more EnCon police and harsher penalties for poaching. (That’s not on Addendum VI, but point well taken.) Unlike the Long Island session from a few weeks ago (the video that was on Facebook), there were no angry outbursts or contentious remarks, so good job on that to everyone.

This is your chance to open your mouth and speak.

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So, what did I say? I drew my comments from the following script:

Commissioners and fellow anglers,

My name is Steve Culton. I am a resident of Middletown. I am a fly fishing guide, instructor, outdoor writer, and I run a website called currentseams which has over 700 followers, many of whom are avid striper anglers. Most of all, I’m a guy who loves fly fishing for striped bass. I am also active within the American Saltwater Guides Association, which is an organization of guides and small business owners from Maine to North Carolina. Along with the ASGA, I endorse the following options:

Option 2: 18% reductions applied equally between the sectors. As Aunt Eller said in Oklahoma!, “I don’t say I’m no better than anybody else, but I’ll be danged if I ain’t just as good!”

Option 2-A1: 1@35”. There are major cons to every option listed. It’s hard for me to support an option that allows the wholesale slaughter of the large breeding female bass off of Block Island or in the Cape Cod Canal to continue. Ultimately, it’s difficult to ignore past history, and we’ve seen the positive effect of 1@36”, which helped with the successful rebuilding of the striped bass fishery last time around.

For the Chesapeake Bay, Option 2-B1: 1@18” For the record, I’m not favor of any of the options listed for the Chesapeake Bay. Killing stripers before they’ve have a chance to spawn makes no sense. But Option 2-B1 is expected to achieve the greatest harvest reduction.

Option 3.2.B: Mandatory use of circle hooks. It would be nice if this were accompanied by an effective education and awareness program. I won’t hold my breath.

Some additional comments – and some difficult questions: 

While we’ve got to start somewhere, all this is not good enough. ASMFC has got to do better.

Real power comes not from the taking of life, but rather from the sparing of it. Why are we continuing to allow the killing of the large breeder females that produce millions of eggs annually, and are critical to producing the next big year class? Why 1@35″ and not 1@40″ (or bigger)? Why is there no moratorium or catch & release only provision in this addendum? Why are we relying on a 50% chance of success?

Why is Maryland allowed to do what they damn well please? Maryland’s harvest reduction in this Draft Addendum is based on their 2017 numbers when they were severely over their total. Why would you reward a state for overharvesting by 200%? There must be consequences when states do not live up to their harvest reduction goals. ASMFC needs to change how you analyze and manage conservation equivalency proposals. Please make sure this process gets fixed.

Finally, perception is reality, and the perception is that the ASMFC has a storied history of underachievement and little to no accountability. Not good enough. I challenge the ASMFC to rise to your mission statement this time around.

I recognize the ASMFC has a number of diverse constituencies that need to be considered. However, you have an obligation to manage striped bass for the greater good. You must manage for the benefit of our children, and for their children. Ultimately, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few – or the one. Thank you for your consideration.

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So that’s it. I hope you’ll award me bonus points for managing to work Star Trek and Rogers & Hammerstein into my comments.

You have until October 7 to send in email comments. You can find the public hearing schedule for individual states, and the email/snail mail address to send comments to here. You must use the subject line Striped Bass Draft Addendum VI.

 

CT Public Hearings on Striped Bass Draft Addendum VI

CT residents will have two opportunities this week to speak on the ASMFC Striped Bass Addendum VI. This first is tonight, 7pm at DEEP Marine HQ in Old Lyme. The second is Wednesday September 25, 7pm at Port 5 Hall in Bridgeport. I will be attending tonight’s hearing in Old Lyme.

If you’re passionate about stripers and ensuring a viable future for this magnificent fish, I urge you to do one of the following. First, attend a public hearing in your state. Second, send email comments to the ASMFC. You can find the public hearing schedule for individual states, and the email/snail mail address to send comments to here. You must use the subject line Striped Bass Draft Addendum VI.

What to say? You, of course, will have your own opinion. It should be noted that in this situation, there exists the awesome power of similar numbers. The more of us that push for a similar opinion — and outcome — the better. You know I am a champion of the American Saltwater Guides Association (ASGA). They have carefully considered the options, and their position on Draft Addendum VI can be found here.

If you haven’t done so already, sign up for ASGA email updates, and, even better, make a contribution. They’re truly doing good work.

Hope to see you tonight — and hope to see more of her in the future.

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“Trout Fishing for Striped Bass” at Hammonasset TU, Thursday, Oct.10

Everyone’s invited to see me present “Trout Fishing For Striped Bass — How to catch the stripers that everyone can’t” at 7pm, Thursday, October 10, at the Hammonasset TU meeting. The venue is the QRWA building at 540 Oregon Road in Meriden, CT. For more information, please visit the Hammonasset TU website.

Anyone can catch aggressive, willing-to-chase striped bass. But what about the stripers that are holding on station — or larger bass that that are not willing to chase a stripped fly? Many of the answers can be found within traditional trout and salmon tactics. 

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Housy Mini-Report 9/18/19: Like buttah

I intended to fish the Hous for smallmouth, but I didn’t like the cold front that came through the day before. So to hedge my bets, I began in the TMA in hopes of some Salmo action. A brilliant day for fishing! 70 degrees, sun and clouds, crisp autumn-like air. Water 191cfs. Started with a streamer in a popular hole, and had a couple small bumps. Then I noticed some risers, and tied on a white fly soft hackle.  “The Wrong Fly Presented Correctly” Part 1: the fish were on Tiny BWO emergers, but I didn’t have anything close to that in my box. So I went with a swung soft hackle just below the surface. Bang!

Like buttah, a gorgeous mid-teens brown that’s been in the river for a while (look at those pecs). I love how nature finds a way despite low flows and scorching summer temps. 

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Downstream in the TMA I discovered a pod of smutting trout in a placid pool. Again, on tiny BWO emergers and again, only the size 10 soft hackle (and 8-pound test tippet to boot) at my disposal. “The Wrong Fly Presented Correctly” Part 2: the answer again was yes.

Wrapped up the trip with some new smallmouth water recon. Very sexy water, but as I feared the cold front put the kibosh on the action. Not to worry. It’s going to be warm this weekend…and there’s always next year.

 

New presentation: “The Little Things 3.0”

Hot off the presses! “The Little Things” series is one of my most popular fly fishing programs. In this third installment, we cover more of the seemingly insignificant things that can have a huge impact on your catch rate. This is all new material, geared for both veteran and rookie fly anglers, covering fresh and saltwater, and popular species from trout to stripers to steelhead to smallmouth and more. Pay attention to the little things, and you may become one of the 10% who catches 90% of the fish. To contact me for a booking, click here.

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