Thompson River Steelhead Now Officially Endangered

 

Thompson River steelhead are now officially considered endangered under Canada's Species At Risk Act (SARA). Russell Miller photo

Thompson River steelhead are now officially considered endangered under Canada’s Species At Risk Act (SARA). Russell Miller photo

In the April May 2018 issue of Fly Fisherman (on sale now) we reported that Thompson River steelhead are on the verge of extinction, with fewer than 200 fish expected in the final tally of fish returning to spawn in late 2017. The cause is legal but indiscriminate gill netting in the Fraser River by First Nations and commercial fishermen. We also reported that the only way to save Thompson River steelhead may be a a listing of the fish under Canada’s Species At Risk Act (SARA). A SARA listing could outlaw all activities endangering Thompson steelhead.

Update: Since that story went to press, The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) completed its emergency assessment of Thompson River and Chilcotin River steelhead and has determined both populations are at imminent risk of extinction. Both were assessed by COSEWIC as Endangered and recommended for an emergency listing order under SARA.

Only 177 adult steelhead returned to the Thompson in 2017 and only 58 fish returned to the Chilcotin. Both are tributaries of the Fraser river and are impacted by downstream gillnetting. In both cases, the numbers represent the lowest ever recorded.

The new COSEWIC assessments have been forwarded to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, The Honourable Catherine McKenna, who  will make recommendations for listing and protecting the two species.

For more information, see the April-May 2018 issue of Fly Fisherman or newswire.ca

The post Thompson River Steelhead Now Officially Endangered appeared first on Fly Fisherman.

Powered by WPeMatico

Praying to the Fish Gods

Have you ever experienced fishing that was so dismal, you were compelled to get down on your knees and pray?

That’s how desperate the boys from InTents Media became after getting dropped off on the tundra, and fishing for seven days without even seeing an Arctic char. The four Rocky Mountain anglers had flown thousands of miles, camped in rugged conditions, and walked 10 miles per day looking to find the fish of their dreams—brightly colored Arctic char—but no one had yet seen one. Worse, the group was there to produce a fishing film for the International Fly Fishing Film Festival (IF4) and seven days into it, had very little that would interest a hyped-up audience.

So they dropped down on their knees and with the cameras rolling, asked God to send some Arctic char their way. What fisherman hasn’t at least secretly done this? I have, but it never worked for me as brilliantly as it did for Sam Parkinson, who soon after made a Hail Mary cast and caught a fish that filmmaker Phil Tuttle called “will go down in the history of fly fishing as maybe one of the greatest char of all time.”

The greatest char of all time? You be the judge at upcoming showings of the film in Lynnwood, Washington (Feb. 17) or Pleasanton, California (Feb. 24).  For a complete listing of upcoming US dates visit flyfilmfest.com/schedule/us-dates.

 

“Seriously North” (Trailer) – Official Selection, IF4™ 2018 from IF4™ on Vimeo.

The post Praying to the Fish Gods appeared first on Fly Fisherman.

Powered by WPeMatico

Big Flies for (Really) Big Fish

When I came back from Guyana and showed friends and family photos of some of the fish we caught, the first question was often, “What kind of fly do you use to catch something like that!?”

Arapaima are the largest scaled freshwater fish in the world, but when you fly fish for them, they are just like any other predator. Your strategy is to use your creativity to make a fly that imitates the prevalent food sources. In the Rupununi wetlands near Rewa, Guyana, that means flies that imitate red-bellied piranha and small peacock bass.

The method is the same as with tying any large-profile baitfish pattern. You stack the EP Fibers on the top and bottom of the hook shank to create a fly that has a large profile when viewed from the side, but it’s narrow when viewed from top and bottom. This imitates the shape of many baitfish species, and is crucial to making a “large” fly you can actually cast.

The key to a good arapaima fly, says Oliver White, is the Owner Aki 8/0 hook. Getting these fish to eat the fly isn’t all that difficult, but sticking that hook into something solid is. White has caught more (and probably also lost more) of these fish on a fly rod than any other person alive, and he’s very particular about the hook. If you’re flying halfway across the world to catch the biggest fish of your life, it’s a good idea to pay attention to these small details that will make a big difference in your success.

For more info on arapaima fishing in Guyana, see my story “1 Guy with a Fly Rod” in the Oct-Dec 2017 issue of FLY FISHERMAN or watch the film by Outside TV we shot on location in March 2017. The fly-tying short you see here is an out-take from that shoot.

The post Big Flies for (Really) Big Fish appeared first on Fly Fisherman.

Powered by WPeMatico

Giant Trevally Eating Terns

When I wrote the story “Freaky Farquhar” in the Aug-Sep 2016 issue of FLY FISHERMAN, my introduction focused on the rare and incredible “bird-hatch” where giant trevally gathered to feast on fledging terns hatched at one of the colony islands of the atoll.

After the story came out, I got a few emails and comments from people who discounted the idea of a bird hatch as an urban legend. Sure, our guides at FlyCastaway had us use bird-sizes flies to catch giant trevally, but we didn’t capture the split-second attacks on film as “proof.”

Thankfully there are people out there more interested than me in capturing rare and incredible wildlife footage, and less distracted by hooks and fly rods. The BBC is set to launch its new series Blue Planet II  which airs on the BBC for the first time on Sunday October 28, 2017, and according to this report in the Daily Mail, the BBC film crew captured it all in glorious slow motion.

Here are a few glorious out-takes from the upcoming series  where the GTs of Farquhar Atoll play a leading role.

Still photo from the BBC series Blue Planet II.

Still photo from the BBC series Blue Planet II.

 

Still photo from the BBC series Blue Planet II.

Still photo from the BBC series Blue Planet II.

The post Giant Trevally Eating Terns appeared first on Fly Fisherman.

Powered by WPeMatico

The Hidden Honey Holes of Guyana

When these old flood channels are full of water, arapaima use them to migrate deep into the jungle. During the dry season, it takes a team of boat haulers (and sometimes a little help from the guests) to get the boats to the best fishing. Beth Sweeting photo

When these old flood channels are full of water, arapaima use them to migrate deep into the jungle. During the dry season, it takes a team of boat haulers (and sometimes a little help from the guests) to get the boats to the best fishing. Beth Sweeting photo

The fishing in Rewa, Guyana, is spectacular—you’re hunting the biggest scaled freshwater fish in the world, and they are often in tiny ponds of just a few acres. When the Rupununi River floods, the arapaima thread their way back into the jungle to find the stillwaters where they prefer to feed, spawn, and raise their young. When the dry season comes, oxbows, side channels, and lagoons become disconnected from the main river. To get to the fish, a team of 12 or more boat handlers drags two or three 14-foot aluminum johnboats a mile or more through the jungle for a morning of fishing.

At lunch while the guests are eating, the boatmen drag the boats out of the jungle and move them to another pond for the afternoon.Why not just leave the boats at the pond? Because many of these ponds are fished only once per season, and the village cooperative has only a handful of boats provided by the nonprofit Indifly for this sport fishing venture. The guides are careful not to pressure these small waters that might only contain a handful of arapaima. From our base of operations at Sunburst Camp—a 3-hour boat ride from the village of Rewa—we fished a new pond every morning and every afternoon. You never see the same place twice when you’re exploring the hidden honey holes of Guyana.

In this short clip (an excerpt from the film Rewa: Fishing for Change by Outside TV) Oliver White and I badly wanted to fish a remote spot called Tapir Pond that had not been visited in three years. Even with a team of haulers it was tough to get the boat through the dense underbrush. Oliver and I added some muscle to get the boats up a steep embankment, a location that also shows a dry flood channel and the likely pathway for arapaima that migrate during flood events. Barefoot was the only way to get any traction in the thick mud. Flip-flops were consumed by mud and shoes were even more useless.

For more info on arapaima fishing in Guyana, see my story “1 Guy with a Fly Rod” in the Oct-Dec 2017 issue of FLY FISHERMAN or watch the film by Outside TV we shot on location in March 2017.

Beth Sweeting photo

Ross Purnell, guide Shun Alvin, and Oliver White with a middling size arapaima Purnell caught while filming Rewa: Fishing for Change. Beth Sweeting photo

Beth Sweeting photo

Boat handlers drag aluminum johnboats through the Guyana jungle to access remote stillwater ponds. Beth Sweeting photo

 

 

The post The Hidden Honey Holes of Guyana appeared first on Fly Fisherman.

Powered by WPeMatico

Orri Vigfússon, Champion of Atlantic Salmon

Over the course of his 27 years leading the North Atlantic Salmon Fund, Orri Vigfússon did more to conserve and enhance salmon stocks than any other single person. Photo by Golli

Over the course of his 27 years leading the North Atlantic Salmon Fund, Orri Vigfússon did more to conserve and enhance salmon stocks than any other single person. Photo by Golli

When you catch a salmon in Iceland, Scotland, or Norway, you should raise your glass at the end of the day and toast Orri Vigfússon, because it’s likely he played an important role in your success. Vigfússon did more to conserve and enhance North Atlantic salmon stocks than any other single person. Vigfússon passed away July 1, 2017   at Iceland’s national hospital in Reyjavik due to lung cancer. He was 74. The funeral service will be held in Reykjavík at Hallgrímskirkja, July 10.

Vigfússon grew up fishing his home river the Fljótaá and other northern rivers, and in the 1980s he became alarmed that once-plentiful wild salmon populations throughout the North Atlantic were rapidly disappearing.

In response, Vigfússon founded the Iceland-based North Atlantic Salmon Fund (NASF). Since 1989, the

organization with its partners has raised and spent $50 million buying out the nets of commercial fishermen in

the important salmon feeding grounds near Greenland and the Faroe Islands. These “mixed stock” commercial

fisheries were crushing open-ocean salmon populations, but thanks to Vigfússon’s fundraising and his negotiation

skills with netters and longliners, he pioneered one of the most important and successful fisheries conservation

projects the world has known. Vigfússon’s efforts are a win-win on all fronts. The NASF pays commercial fishermen to stay home, and also assists them in finding alternative employment so that when the temporary agreements end, there’s no financial reason to go back to pulling nets.

According to NASF estimates, open-ocean netting in the Atlantic has dropped by more than 85 percent in

the last 15 years and more than 12 million North Atlantic salmon have been saved from harvest. Vigfússon also

brokered similar buyouts or moratorium agreements in Iceland, Wales, England, France, Ireland, Northern Ireland,

Scotland, and Norway.

The post Orri Vigfússon, Champion of Atlantic Salmon appeared first on Fly Fisherman.

Powered by WPeMatico