Updated October 2019: The West Branch Farmington River Presentation

I spent most of today updating one of my oldest presentations. The West Branch Farmington River sports new video, photos, content, and is current with new regs as of fall 2019. If your club is looking for a comprehensive overview of southern New England’s blue ribbon trout stream, this is the presentation you’ve been looking for. You can find out more about this and my other presentations here.

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In case you missed it, I have an article about the Farmington River in the most recent issue (Sept/Oct 2019) of Eastern Fly Fishing. You can get a copy direct from them here.

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CT DEEP Trout and Salmon Forums this October

“DEEP Wants Your Opinions on Trout and Salmon Fishing in Connecticut.
Public Discussions Scheduled Statewide in October
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s (DEEP) Fisheries Division is pleased to invite all interested people to attend one of the public discussions focused on the State’s recreational trout and salmon fisheries. The purpose of the meeting is to obtain ideas and concerns specific to recreational fishing for trout and salmon via face-to-face conversation.
“Informed conversations between our passionate and loyal anglers and the Fisheries Division are essential to ensuring we are managing these fisheries in the most relevant and meaningful manner, consistent with the preferences and desires of the people we serve,” said Peter Aarrestad, Director of DEEP’s Fisheries Division.
Each meeting will begin with a brief presentation about the Fisheries Division’s management of trout and salmon to date and then expand to discussion on four key focal points related to trout and salmon fishing:
• What makes a good fishing trip?
• What is the Fisheries Division doing well?
• Where can the Fisheries Division improve?
• What actions could be taken to increase the number people fishing?
All people are encouraged to provide their perspectives. At the conclusion of all of the meetings, comments will be compiled and considered to help inform the Fisheries Division’s development of a statewide trout and salmon action plan.
To help determine the level of attendance and ensure sufficient accommodations for all, we are asking likely attendees to RSVP in advance by selecting the “tickets” button for the appropriate date and location.
RSVP can also be made by calling the Fisheries Division at 860-424-3474 or by email to mike.beauchene@ct.gov
Doors will open 30 minute prior to the start of each meeting.”
You can find the dates and locations here.

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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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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Stuff I Use: Renzetti R-Evolution Magnum Hair Stacker

If you’re tying big bugs like the Zoo Cougar or the Countermeasure — any larger pattern with a deer hair fan collar or spun head — the Renzetti R-Evolution Magnum Hair Stacker is a godsend. It’s got an extra wide mouth for those pencil-plus sized clumps; no more struggling to get the hair into the opening. And with four flat-side grips, the base is easy to handle. This is one of those tools that makes you wonder how ever managed without it. While you’re at it, check out this great primer from Kelly Galloup on spinning and setting deer hair.

The Renzetti R-Evolution Magnum Hair Stacker. Support your local fly shop by buying one there.

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The Pitfalls of Buying Fur and Feather Online

You’d think I would have learned by now. But no. I still make stupid mistakes when it comes to buying fly tying materials online. Latest failure: ordering a Hareline Premo Deer Hair strip sight unseen.

Wrong. The hair is short, stiff, and coarse, totally unsuited for my needs. If I’d seen this item in a shop I would have quickly rejected it. Oh sure, I’ll find a use for it some day, but for now it only serves as a reminder to never buy large fur patches sight unseen unless you have a reliable description and a trusted source.

This is not to say that Hareline products are lousy: I have dozens and dozens of great Hareline items in my bins, and the replacement deer hair patch I found — which is spectacular — is from Hareline.

Two deer hair patches from Hareline. The one on the left is gorgeous — beautiful, long hair fibers. The one on the right is garbage. When it comes to buying fur, saddles, feathers, and skins online, sight unseen, caveat emptor.

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