June Newsletter

On The Fly South June 2022

June is the month we transition from spring to summer, but it’s not too late to get in some fly-casting action before the southern heat arrives in force!

A hookup on North Carolina’s Davidson River. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs.

In our upcoming, June Edition to be posted at mid-month, we take you to Brevard, North Carolina for trout action on the Davidson River and we go chasing striped and spotted bass on the Etowah River in Georgia. For those fly casters with a taste for the brine, it’s off to some surprising inshore fishing at Daytona Beach.

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Around The South:

Trout in Georgia State Parks

Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites Division

Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites Division manages six parks in North Georgia that offer trout fishing for visitors. These range from stream angling for trophy rainbow and brown trout to small pond angling for put-and-take trout and even a delayed-harvest creek.

Amicalola Falls State Park stocks the Reflection Pool below the falls regularly with rainbow trout from spring through fall. Some of those fish also may find their way downstream into Little Amicalola Creek on the park property.

Black Rock Lake in Black Rock Mountain State Park is stocked with rainbow trout four times annually between March and August.

Moccasin Creek in Moccasin Creek State Park is stocked regularly with brook, rainbow and brown trout within the park from spring to fall. Angling here is limited to youngsters 12 and under, along with seniors 65 and over.

Dukes Creek in Smithgall Woods State Park has a highly regulated stretch of trophy trout water. All fishing is through a free reservation system, catch-and-release applies and only artificial lures with barbless hooks are allowed.

Unicoi State Park has a delayed-harvest fishery on Smith Creek downstream of Unicoi Lake. From November 1 to May 14, all fish must be released and only single-hook, artificial lures are allowed. From May 15 to October 31, regular statewide trout regulations apply. On Smith Creek upstream of Unicoi Lake and within the park property, statewide regulations apply year-round. In this part of the creek trout are stocked weekly from April to July 31, then twice more before Labor Day and once in either September or October.

Lake Trahlyta in Vogel State Park is stocked with rainbow trout twice per month from April through Labor Day and once per month through the winter months. Regular statewide regulations apply to the fishing. These trout also can run up into Wolf Creek within the park boundary.

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Record Fine for Trout Stream Destruction

North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality

Regarding a story we reported on previously, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has fined Bottomley Evergreens & Farms, and Bottomley Properties more than $268,000 for water quality violations, one of the largest civil penalties ever assessed by the agency.

While clear-cutting 360 acres of forest for cattle pastures in Alleghany and Surry counties, the companies extensively damaged more than three linear miles of streams, as well as wetlands, according to court records.

Many portions of these waterways were filled with rock, mud and dirt, requiring the NC Wildlife Resources Commission to conduct an emergency fish rescue to save a population of native brook trout.

In addition, cattle grazing operations polluted streams with high levels of fecal bacteria, more than six times the state freshwater standard.

In court documents, DEQ described “egregious violations” of the state’s water quality standards. “The violations observed constituted some of the most extensive sedimentation damage to waters the Division of Water Resources staff involved in this matter have ever seen,” the documents read.

DEQ required Bottomley to restore the damaged streams. However, a DEQ spokeswoman said the company has not completed the restoration by the deadlines established in a work plan issued by the agency.

Companies owned by the Bottomley family have a long history of environmental and labor violations. Glade Creek Dairy in Alleghany County racked up dozens of state environmental citations and more than $15,000 in fines, according to NC Department of Environmental Quality records. In 2014, a Bottomley subsidiary based in Oregon settled two cases with the U.S. Department of Labor for nearly $1 million, without admitting any wrongdoing. That subsidiary has since closed.

In this case, Bottomley Evergreens & Farms and Bottomley Properties can pay the penalty or request a reduction, which would have to be approved by the Environmental Management Commission. The companies can also contest the penalty before an administrative law judge.

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World Fly Fishing Day Fast Approaching

World Fly Fishing Day

This year’s World Fly Fishing Day is planned for June 25, 2022. It is a worldwide initiative to promote the sport in which we all participate. The Italian School of Fly Fishing, the Game Angling Instructors Association and Fly Fish USA invite everyone to join forces in celebrating fly fishing around the world.

World Fly Fishing Day allows fly fishing enthusiasts to highlight their unique sport. The event organizers want participants to be creative and produce their ideas to raise awareness of fly fishing. They hope the day will be viewed as a worldwide Festival of Fly Fishing.

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Shoal Bass Stocking in the Chipola River

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

In 2018, Hurricane Michael depleted more than 90 percent of the shoal bass population in the Chipola River. As a direct management action following the hurricane, the FWC passed an executive order that suspended harvest and possession of shoal bass. In 2019, FWC staff recommended this regulation be adopted into rule to support ongoing conservation efforts for this species. Currently, harvest and possession of shoal bass in the Chipola River and its tributaries remains prohibited. 

“This project embodies the necessity for strategic long-term thinking in conservation and the vital role it plays, not only in word, but also in being able to implement these actions,” said Chris Paxton, Regional Fisheries Administrator for Florida’s northwest region. “Thankfully we had already been working on how to spawn these fish in case something happens one day to this isolated population. Well, it happened in the form of a Category 5 hurricane.” 

Shoal bass are one of four of Florida’s native black bass species, and this effort marks the first time genetically pure shoal bass have been successfully raised in an FWC fish hatchery. Shoal bass are also a Florida Species of Greatest Conservation Need, which refers to native animals whose populations are of concern and are at risk or declining. The goal of raising and releasing these fish is to enhance the wild population of shoal bass to help maintain the population’s genetic purity and aid in the long-term conservation of this unique species of Florida black bass. 

The unique conservation management action of raising and releasing thousands of shoal bass fingerlings is a result of collaborative work by dedicated staff from the FWC Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management, and Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. The shoal bass were raised at FWC Blackwater Fisheries Research and Development Center near Holt.  

“Shoal bass have very specific habitat needs and it is a major milestone to successfully spawn and grow these fish to a size suitable for stocking,” said Hatchery Manager Bob DeMauro of the FWC Blackwater Fisheries Research and Development Center. “It is an incredible success to raise these riverine fish in a still-water hatchery pond when they are used to flowing water and limestone shoals in their natural habitat.” 

FWC freshwater fisheries biologists will continue to monitor the Chipola River shoal bass population and evaluate the contribution of these stocking efforts through genetic testing. 

“This is a great example of research and management partners working together to protect and conserve this native black bass species,” said Andy Strickland, freshwater fisheries biologist with the FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.

The Chipola River is the only waterbody in Florida with a known naturally reproducing shoal bass population. This spring-fed river originates just north of Marianna, flowing south for 95 miles through Jackson, Calhoun and Gulf counties where it joins the Apalachicola River.

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More River Access in Texas

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Guadalupe bass fishing opportunities are expanded by the new access points. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is expanding public fishing and paddling opportunities in the state with the addition of two leased river access sites through the River Access and Conservation Area (RACA) program.

The new site at Cupgrass Cabins provides a second leased access point near County Road (CR) 150 on the South Llano River, giving ample public parking at this popular crossing.  The new RACA site at John Knox Ranch is the first on the Blanco River.

“Both the Blanco and South Llano rivers are beautiful Hill Country streams just a short drive away from major urban areas like San Antonio and Austin,” said John Botros, TPWD River Access Coordinator “Historically in Texas, recreation on rivers has been limited by a lack of public access points. These new sites are an important step in expanding the public’s options for safe, legal and high-quality fishing and paddling access on rivers.”

Anglers will find a gated entrance to Cupgrass located off U.S. 377, approximately 0.24 miles southwest of CR 150, near Junction TPWD River Access at Cupgrass offers a complimentary parking area and an access point to the South Llano River via Bailey Creek. Access for launching non-motorized boats, canoes or kayaks for the purpose of fishing is open from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.

Reservations to park on the property must be made in advance by texting the visiting vehicle make and color to (512) 407-9357. Canoes and kayaks can be launched in Bailey Creek and ingress/egress to the South Llano is a short paddle out. This segment of the river offers ample opportunities to cast for largemouth and Guadalupe bass while channel catfish and sunfish are also prevalent.

The new river access area at John Knox Ranch is located off FM 179, approximately 0.25 miles west of the “Slime Bridge” crossing of the Blanco River. John Knox Ranch offers a complimentary parking area for TPWD leased access users, and access to the Blanco River for fishing and paddling purposes. Access for wade fishing and launching non-motorized boats, canoes, kayaks or other floatable devices for the purpose of fishing is open each day from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.

Visitors must email John Knox Ranch at jkroffice@missionpby.org before they arrive to make a reservation and ensure the availability of parking space. Visitors are required to make a reservation in advance. The code in the confirmation email is needed to unlock the gate and gain access the parking area.

The site provides new and exciting opportunities for anglers to catch some of Texas’ most popular sport fish. This segment of the Blanco River has abundant populations of largemouth bass, channel catfish and Guadalupe bass, which is the state fish of Texas. Anglers are encouraged to practice catch-and-release of sportfish.

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