May Newsletter

On The Fly South May 2021

This month presents a bit of a conundrum for anglers. It is hard to find a species of fish that is not hitting flies at this time of year. Just deciding what to target can be difficult. Whether it’s trout in cold, freshwater, warm water denizens of lakes and rivers, or the rugged battlers that inhabit saltwater, there is no shortage of options in May.

Against that backdrop of choices, the upcoming May edition of On The Fly South will contain a variety from across the region to tempt you. We’ll start with some trout action on West Virginia’s Lower Cranberry River, then take a look at targeting bluegill around the full moon spawn in Alabama’s State Public Fishing Lakes. In the brine, we’ll venture to Exuma Island in The Bahamas for bonefish action, along with a look at the culture of the isle.


There also will be our usual columns on fly tying, great fly-fishing gear and more. Be sure to sign up for a FREE subscription on our home page, so you are notified when we release new editions or newsletters. In the meantime check out what’s happening around the region now.

Around the South:

Grand Bahama Update

Photo by Jimmy Jacobs.

Like all the other islands of The Bahamas, Grand Bahama has suffered through a drought of tourism during the past year of the Covid-19 pandemic. On the other hand, along with its neighbor Abaco in the northern end of the island chain, it has been a double whammy. Prior to the Covid restrictions on travel, neither island had recovered from the beating that Category 5 Hurricane Dorian applied in 2019.

Fortunately, things are improving on Grand Bahama, which has been a favorite for traveling anglers that enjoty do-it-yourself action for bonefish. Although there are some extra hoops to jump through in the form of Health Travel Visas and Covid tests to enter the island or stay more than five days, the system is in place to make those easier to navigate.

As for accommodations, Old Bahama Bay Resort & Yacht Harbor is fully functional on the West End of the island, which was not hit as hard by Dorian. There even are some wadable flats right on their property.

To the east of Freeport/Lucaya, Dorian delivered a much heavier punch. However, the Viva Wyndam Fortuna Beach all-inclusive resort that has been a favored headquarters for DIY ventures to the east end has just reopened after extensive remodeling. It again is ready to host anglers.

The bonefish flats at Tamerind Lane in Gambier Point, Pelican Point, the Graveyard and the Bowl near McClean’s Town are in good shape and still hold fish. On the land, it is another story. Smitty’s One Stop that dispensed gasoline and cold Kalik beer near High Rock no longer exists.

The McClean’s Town Public Cemetery at the Graveyard Flat was devastated.

EJ’s Bayside Cafe in McClean’s Town was hit hard, but now is reopen.

Stay tuned to our Web Journal editons for full coverage of Grand Bahama Island fishing in the coming months.

Tiger Trout in West Virginia

West Virginia Division of Naural Resources.

Govenor Jim Justice announced that the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources will be stocking 25,000 tiger trout in lakes and streams throughout West Virginia up through May.

The tiger trout will be stocked with other trout species at a rate of 10 percent of the normal stockings. Many are trophy size at 4 pounds each.

“This is just the latest example of the unique, world-class fishing opportunities we’re providing in West Virginia for anglers from our great state and all over the country. I could not be more proud,” Gov. Justice said.

Tiger trout, which are known for unique markings that look like tiger stripes, are bred in hatcheries by fertilizing brown trout eggs with brook trout milt. Jim Hedrick, hatchery program manager for the WVDNR, said hatchery staff have been raising tiger trout for a few years and are now ready to stock them around the state.

“Tiger trout are a cross between brook and brown trout and aren’t usually found in nature, so this stocking is going to provide a really unique opportunity for anglers looking for a challenge,” Hedrick said. “We stocked tiger trout a number of years ago, but haven’t done it recently, so stocking these fish is an exciting opportunity for anglers.”

Everglades Restoration Underway

South Florida Water Management District

The South Florida Water Management District Governing Board awarded the final contract needed to build the Stormwater Treatment Area (STA) component of the EAA Reservoir Project. The EAA Reservoir Project reduces harmful discharges to the Northern Estuaries and moves clean water south to the Everglades.

The $175 million contract to create the natural wetland includes:

  • Two pump stations,
  • Inflow and outflow canals,
  • Levees,
  • Culverts, and
  • Earthwork

Gov. Ron DeSantis made expediting the completion of the EAA Reservoir Project a key priority with one of his first executive orders.

The EAA Reservoir Project is a joint Everglades restoration project between SFWMD and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The 6,500-acre STA, which is being built by SFWMD, will clean the water to meet state water quality standards before it is sent south. It is expected to be completed by 2023. The 10,500-acre reservoir, which is being built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will hold 240,000 acre-feet of water.

The District continues to advance all components of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) all around South Florida to restore the Greater Everglades Ecosystem.

Chesapeake Basin Intersex Smallmouth Bass

U.S. Geological Survey

Fish biologist Vicki Blazer with the U.S. Geological Survey brought her team to the Shenandoah River in Front Royal, Virginia, to collect and study smallmouth bass, a species in which intersex characteristics have been linked to chemical contaminants in the Chesapeake Bay region.

Intersex conditions occur when exposure to chemicals disrupts the hormonal systems of an animal, leading to the presence of both male and female characteristics in an animal that should exhibit the characteristics of just one sex in its lifetime. In the case of smallmouth bass, male intersex fish are found with immature eggs in their testes, which indicates exposure to estrogenic and anti-androgenic chemicals.

“The sources of estrogenic chemicals are most likely complex mixtures from both agricultural sources, such as animal wastes, pesticides and herbicides, and human sources from waste water treatment plant effluent and other sewage discharges,” says Blazer, who first discovered intersex characteristics in fish while studying fish kills in the South Branch of the Potomac River and the Shenandoah River.

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