April Newsletter

On The Fly South April 2022

Here’s your preview of what’s coming your way in our April Edition later this month, and a look at what’s going on in southern fisheries!

The arrival of April is really beginning to look like spring across the southland. As the blossoms of the season appear, the fishing starts really coming to life. Whether it’s in warm, cold or saltwater, the fish are getting active and ready to give you a fight.

This month we head to middle Georgia to chase largemouth bass on the fly in the cypress-filled waters of Watson Pond in George L. Smith State Park. We will also venture to the Gulf Coast for seatrout and redfish action in the Chandelier Islands, as well as targeting some Carolina mountain trout.

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You also get our regular feature on lodges and the End of the Line column. This month warm water fly tier Craig Riendeau gives you a sneak peek at his new creation the Flypala.

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As always, On The Fly South is free to read, but if you want to keep the info coming, take a minute to visit our homepage and subscribe. Our subscribers are our life blood. You get just two emails per month from us alerting you to new editions and our newsletters – and we never sell or give our subscriber list to anyone!

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Around the South:

West Virginia Gold Rush

On March 16, Gov. Jim Justice announced that the West Virginia Gold Rush is returning for its fourth year. For the first time, Gold Rush will include 12 days of trout stockings running through April 3 at some of the state’s most popular fishing lakes and streams.

“Every year through our incredible Gold Rush program, more and more people are discovering the thrill of fishing in West Virginia’s pristine waters, surrounded by the awe-inspiring nature we are blessed to enjoy in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Many are creating memories and family bonds that will last a lifetime,” Gov. Justice said.

The West Virginia Department of Natural Resources is stocking 50,000 golden rainbow trout at 62 lakes and streams, including waters in or near 15 state parks and forests. Stocking locations can be found at goldrushwv.com.

“The golden rainbow trout is a really unique fish and a little more difficult to catch than a regular rainbow trout, which makes them a trophy for many anglers,” said WVDNR Hatchery Program Manager Jim Hedrick. “Once you see their unmistakable, bright-yellow color in the water, you can’t help but get excited and we hope folks are able to get out this year and enjoy this exciting event.”

WV State Parks Discount
A discount associated with Gold Rush is also available at several state parks and forests. Those interested in booking a stay can checkout using the discount code “GOLD” online at wvstateparks.com for 15% off their entire lodge or cabin reservation. Exclusions apply and details can be found at wvstateparks.com/deals.

“Gold Rush is an exciting event that encourages anglers and their families to visit our lakes, streams and wonderful parks and forests all throughout the state,” said West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Director Stephen McDaniel. “Not only is this event great for tourism, it provides exciting opportunities for kids and new anglers to enjoy trout fishing.”

Gold Rush Giveaways
In addition to extending Gold Rush to 12 days, the WVDNR is increasing the number of prizes anglers can win for catching a tagged trout. This year, 100 trout will receive a special numbered tag, which can be entered to win one of four prizes. The grand prize is a three-night cabin stay at Blackwater Falls State Park. Other prizes include one-night cabin stays at a state park or forest, West Virginia State Parks gift cards and exclusive Gold Rush merchandise.

For those who don’t reel in one of the 100 golden rainbow trout with a tag, there are still chances to win prizes by signing up to receive travel tips and information from the WVDNR at goldrushwv.com.

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Major Fish Kill on Alabama Coast

Alabama Marine Resources Division photo.

On Sunday March 20th, the Alabama Marine Resources Division began to receive information on a fish kill event comprised almost exclusively of adult red drum. Reported locations of the dead fish ranged from Point Clear and other locations on the Eastern Shore to Fort Morgan, Dauphin Island and Grand Bay.

It is difficult to determine the cause of this fish kill. The AMRD contacted their partners at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and Alabama Department of Public Health to determine if the kill was a result of a harmful algal bloom. Water samples were collected and the samples indicated low counts of organisms that have been known to kill fish.

The fish floating in the water or washing up on area beaches are in advanced stages of decomposition, which makes it challenging to conduct any pathological examination. The dead fish do not show signs of entanglement in fishing gear. Waters in Mississippi were not open to purse seines and waters in Louisiana were open only to a small fishery in the western part of that state.

A fish kill consisting primarily of red drum is not unusual, as Alabama has previously experienced red drum mortality events in the spring, but those have typically occurred in late April or early May. There are currently no health advisories for consumption of fish, but it is always a good practice to thoroughly cook your catch. If you catch a large red drum with lesions or observe a large red drum with abnormal swimming behavior please collect it, immediately store it on ice and call Marine Resources – Dauphin Island: (251) 861-2882 or Gulf Shores: (251) 968-7576.

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Prizes for Arkansas Tagged Trout

Arkansas Game & Fish Commission photo.

Thanks to a donation from the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation, five lucky anglers who have turned in tags from trout caught this year will receive $100 Bass Pro Shops gift cards.

The tags were randomly placed on trout stocked by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Family and Community Fishing Program in locations across the state. Hundreds of fish were tagged, each being worth a small prize in addition to fantastic table fare and an enjoyable day on the water.

“We want to remind folks that we still have tags out that have not been mailed in yet,” said FCFP coordinator Maurice Jackson. “Mailing the tags will result in a prize and all winners will be entered into a grand prize drawing for one of three guided fishing trips for two to the Little Red River. The Foundation and Sore Lip ‘Em All Guide Service on the Little Red also are responsible for the grand prizes.”

AGFF President Deke Whitbeck said the Foundation is excited to help with the donations for the gift cards and help with the grand prizes to recruit, retain and reactivate anglers in Arkansas.

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Tennessee Fishing License Change

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is happy to announce hunting and fishing licenses and permits will be valid for one year from the date of purchase. All current yearly Tennessee hunting and fishing licenses expired Feb. 28.

Exceptions will be captive permits, Federal duck stamp, migratory bird permits, and slat basket tags.

Licenses are available online anytime at gooutdoorstennessee.com, on the TWRA “On the Go App,” or at one of 474 license agents across the state. You can also select to auto-renew your license and never worry about your license expiring again. Customers can also purchase a new design of the collector’s card for any annual license. The new waterproof, durable card features a choice of a smallmouth, Tennessee’s state game fish, or a pair of deer.

If you like wildlife of any kind, you should thank a hunter or fisherman. Without them, the state would not have the abundance of fish and wildlife that Tennesseans enjoy.

Hunters and anglers have been funding Tennessee’s and the nation’s wildlife conservation for more than 100 years through license purchases. One-hundred percent of hunting and fishing license fees go to support wildlife conservation in Tennessee. What’s more, a license purchase returns taxes paid on firearms, archery equipment, fishing gear and boat fuel to Tennessee at a rate of up to $40 per year so a license purchase is a great investment. This successful funding system is the Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration program which is the largest driver of wildlife conservation nationwide.

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Whirling Disease in Georgia Hatcheries

Georgia Wildlife Resources Division photo.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) has been investigating Whirling Disease (WHD) and Infectious Hematopoietic Necrosis Virus (IHNV) in hatchery-raised trout at the Buford and Summerville Trout Hatcheries. Initial testing results indicated that both hatcheries are positive for WHD and IHNV. However, later testing revealed no sign of the IHNV.

“While neither WHD or IHNV are harmful to humans, these diseases can cause high trout mortalities in hatchery systems and in the wild, and there are no known therapeutic treatments to eliminate these pathogens,” said WRD Chief of Fisheries Scott Robinson. “As a result, Georgia WRD has temporarily suspended its trout stocking program and is in the process of collecting additional trout samples for disease analysis, investigating the source for both pathogens, and identifying disinfectant methodologies for treating the hatcheries.”

Whirling Disease: This is the first documented occurrence of whirling disease in Georgia. First detected in the U.S. in 1958, this disease is found in more than 20 states, including the Watauga River in North Carolina in 2015. Whirling disease can cause 90 percent or greater mortality of young rainbow trout and can have serious impacts to wild and hatchery trout populations. The disease is caused by the microscopic parasite Myxobolus cerebralis, which damages cartilage and skeletal tissue in trout causing diseased fish to swim in a “whirling” motion. 

Infectious Hematopoietic Necrosis Virus (IHNV): While IHNV has not previously been found in Georgia, it has been documented in salmonids in the Pacific Northwest. The disease is caused by the Salmonid Novirhabdovirus and is passed through contact with urine, mucus, and other fluids. All species of trout are susceptible. The virus can cause high trout mortalities in hatchery systems and in the wild. There are no therapeutic treatments to eliminate the pathogen. Infected fish may exhibit lethargy, whirling behavior, darkened coloration, and swelling in the head and abdomen.

If you catch a trout that you think may be affected by WHD or IHNV, here are ways to help:

  • DO take photos and video of the fish, including close ups of its spine.
  • DO note where it was caught (waterbody, landmarks, or GPS coordinates).
  • DO properly clean all equipment such as boats, trailers, waders, boots, float tubes and fins of mud before leaving an area when fishing. Thoroughly dry equipment in the sun if possible before reuse. If you are traveling directly to other waters, clean your equipment with a 10 percent solution of chlorine bleach or use another set of equipment.
  • DON’T transport live fish between bodies of water or release or dispose of them anywhere other than the location they were caught
  • E-mail If you observe the symptoms of WHD or INHV in fish. Notify the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division at trout@dnr.ga.gov.
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