July Newsletter

On The Fly South July 2021

Photo by Jimmy Jacobs

We now are into summer with its heat and humidity. For saltwater fly casters, that’s not too much of a problem. Fish in the brine generally prefer the warmer months, and the ocean breezes often make the heat manageable. On the other hand, freshwater anglers have the option of heading to the highalnds to find some relief from the season.

For the saltwater fans, in our upcoming July edition, the On The Fly South crew heads to the west end of Grand Bahama Island to sample the bonefish action and see how the island has fared in the wake Hurricane Dorian the swept across that isle in 2019. We also venture into North Carolina to sample the smallmouth bass fishing on the Little Tennessee River, just west of Bryson City. Additionally, we’ve got a report on the angling for wild and stocked trout at Boggs Creek on the Chestatee Wildlife Management Area in Georgia.

The Fish Hawk

You also will find our usual columns on resorts, gear, fly tying and the End of the Line. Be sure to sign up for a FREE SUBSCRIPTION on our home page. You’ll get just two emails per month notifiying you when we post new material. It would be great if you told a friend or fishing buddy about us, as well.

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Around the South:

Trout Need Warm Water?

Nature Climate Change

Warm river habitats appear to play a larger-than-expected role in supporting the survival of cold-water fish. This information was published today in a new study in the journal Nature Climate Change.

The research has important implications for fish conservation strategies. A common goal among scientists and policymakers is to identify and prioritize habitat for cold-water fish that remain suitably cool during the summer. This is especially important as the climate warms.

“Prioritizing cold-water habitat devalues seasonally warm areas, even if they are suitable for fish most of the year,” said Jonny Armstrong, lead author of the paper and an ecologist at Oregon State University. He called this a “potentially severe blind spot for climate change adaptation.”

A huge challenge for conservation is to figure out how to help these fish survive a warmer future. Typically, efforts focus on saving the coldest places, such as high mountain streams, which are already the most pristine parts of basins. This approach often neglects the places that are warm in summer, forgetting that these places are optimal for much of the year.

“We’re talking about a subtle shift in how we think about these thermal habitats,” said Aimee Fullerton, a fisheries biologist at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center and a study co-author. “Of course, we want to protect the high-quality cold-water habitats. But we need to expand our definition of high-quality habitat to include some warmer waters.”

In the new paper, the researchers show those warm river habitats, typically lower in basins, provide pulses of growth potential during the spring and fall. These are the so-called shoulder seasons when the rivers are not at peak summer temperatures. Foraging in these warm habitats can provide fish the needed energy to travel to cooler parts of the river during the summer and to reproduce.

“The synergy between cold water and warm water is really important,” said Armstrong, an assistant professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife in the College of Agricultural Sciences. “We’re not saying cold water is not important. We’re saying that warm portions of basins are also important because they grow fish during the shoulder seasons. Conserving this habitat is critical for unlocking the full potential of rivers to support fisheries.

The researchers used data from another team of NOAA scientists, who used remote sensing technology to predict river water temperature data across entire landscapes throughout the year

Using the landscape-scale water temperature predictions, Armstrong and his collaborators estimated fish growth potential throughout the year. They developed fish growth potential from “bioenergetics models.” These are a standard set of equations derived from lab studies that researchers use to evaluate habitat quality for a huge diversity of fish species, in particular water temperature.

The simulations showed that the habitats that would be considered too warm during summer are the very ones where salmon can grow quite well during spring and fall.

“It’s not enough to protect only the habitats that are cold during summer, but that we also need to consider how fish use a range of habitats throughout the year,” said Fullerton.

The researchers noted that restoration and conservation activities that promote natural processes could help ensure diverse thermal habitats into the future.

On The Fly Outfitters

Looking for a full-service fly shop on the Golden Isles portion of the Georgia Coast? On The Fly Outfitters in Brunswick can fill that bill.

Open since 2017, the shop bills itself as a portal for people to have an intimate experience in nature. They specialize in fly fishing, falconry, camping, hiking and travel. The important part of the description is “fly fishing.”

Whether you are a novice or an expert, On The Fly Outfitters is your local, Golden Isles fly shop for guidance, instruction, fly tying material, fly fishing gear and apparel.

Looking for a full-service fly shop on the Golden Isles portion of the Georgia Coast? On The Fly Outfitters in Brunswick can fill that bill.

Open since 2017, the shop bills itself as a portal for people to have an intimate experience in nature. They specialize in fly fishing, falconry, camping, hiking and travel. The important part of the description is “fly fishing.”

Whether you are a novice or an expert, On The Fly Outfitters is your local, Golden Isles fly shop for guidance, instruction, fly tying material, fly fishing gear and apparel.

Check out their website, or even better, drop in at 1501 Newcastle Street in historic downtown Brunswick.

Belize Permit Tagging

The Bonefish & Tarpon Trust

One of the biggest challenges in conservation is determining which habitats are most important and should receive the most conservation attention. Habitat use and movements by permit in northern Belize are knowledge gaps that BTT is working with guides and anglers to fill by starting a tagging program in the region.

Leading the program is BTT’s Belize and Mexico program manager, Dr. Addiel Perez, who recently worked with fishing guides to tag 64 permit in mid-April. Already four tagged permit have been caught from the same site. The multi-year tagging project will be done in collaboration with guides, fishing lodges, and the co-managers of protected areas in the region.

If you fish for permit, or are a fishing guide who targets permit, you can help this project be successful. If you catch a tagged permit:

  • Record the tag number, date, and location. If possible, also measure the fish from the tip of the nose to the fork in the tail.
  • Go to BTT’s website, click on the tab, Report Tagging Data and enter the information

We will soon launch a tagging app for smartphones so that you can report the data as you collect it.

The more we learn about permit and their movements, the better we will be able to ensure a healthy fishery through habitat protections. Please do you part and report tagged permit that you catch.

Wade Safely – Carry A Stick

Davidson River Outfitters

Remember the story of Buford Pusser? The Tennessee Sheriff who carried a dogwood club, and busted up illegal gambling operations?  If so, then give yourself a pat on the back for being a solid citizen. If not, then your latest Stay At Home homework assignment is to watch the original film that is loosely based on his story. The place all of this is going, is the stick.  Buford carried a stick.  A stick will keep you safe, and a stick can help you get out of bad situations.

This theory holds none truer than while wading our area trout streams. The rocks are slick, they tend to move when you step on them, and the currents can be challenging.

While there is some joy derived from selecting your own wild caught, organic stick from streamside each time you visit the river, these natural sticks can be of limited use without significant modifications. While purpose built wading staffs lack the satisfaction of the stick hunt, they are much more practical, and user friendly. Wading staffs are lighter, they collapse for transport, and most are stronger than anything one will find lodged in the flotsam piled high on an outside corner.

Using a wading staff is the best thing an angler can do to stay safe on the stream. “Why is a wading staff so helpful” you may ask. The answer is that it provides a third point of contact to the streambed. When you lift one of your feet to move, your body will still have two remaining points to balance between. If you misplace your step, or the rock you step on rolls away, the staff will ensure that you stay above water. Wading staffs also help you probe the river bottom as you move, preventing unexpected journeys into the abyss.

Beyond wading, carrying these modern sticks can useful in other ways as well. Retrieving flies from snags both above and below the water, moving obstacles such as briars from your path through the woods, and helping you to get back into your locked vehicle after you left your keys in the cupholder beside your polarized glasses.

Think you’re too tough to use a wading staff? Get over it. Staying safe is better than being hurt. Be like Buford. Carry a stick.

New UNI-Thread 8/0 Pumpkin

UNI Products, a world leader in the supply of spooled fly-tying materials, announces the addition of Pumpkin to their very popular UNI-Thread 8/0 line. Pumpkin Orange adds to the versatility of the existing lineup: Black, Camel, Chartreuse, Dark Brown, Doctor Blue, Fire Orange, Fluorescent Green, Fluorescent Orange, Gray, Green,  Iron Gray. Light Cahill, Light Olive, Olive, Olive Dun, Orange, Mahogany, Pink, Pumpkin, Purple, Red, Rusty Brown, Rusty Dun, Tan, White, Wine and Yellow. Tiers now have twenty-huit colors at their disposal to match the hatch or achieve the affect they want. Available on spools of 50 yards and 200 yards, waxed and un-waxed. Tiers can also take advantage of our popular 20-spool combo pack.

Look to UNI Products for the best in spooled fly-tying materials and accessories.

Visit our website for information on all our products.

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