Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Western Water Project

Copyright 2006 Trout Unlimited:
Wild and native trout need water, every day. They need enough water to hide from predators, find food, migrate and reproduce. In many parts of the West, where water is scarce, there is not enough water left in rivers to support robust trout populations - and sometimes, there is not enough water for any fish at all.

Western water laws place little value on water that is not diverted for human purposes. Consequently, mining, agricultural and municipal users often drain rivers dry during certain times of the year. Shortage of water, and dramatic alterations to natural flow patterns, are some of the primary reasons why many of the West's native cutthroat and wild trout species, as well as almost all western salmon and steelhead populations, are in trouble.

Of all of threats to trout and salmon, the issue of leaving enough water in rivers is perhaps the most difficult to address. There's an old saying in the West that still holds true: "Whiskey's for drinkin', but water's for fightin'." Legal rights for water left in the rivers - "instream flows" -- are either not recognized by states, or are of low priority in a legal system that gives highest priority for use to people who hold the oldest (most "senior") rights.

To tackle the problem of dry and depleted rivers in the West, Trout Unlimited (TU) started the Western Water Project in 1997. In partnership with WaterWatch of Oregon, TU opened offices in Montana and Colorado staffed with experienced water law attorneys. The goal of these offices is to protect and restore water in rivers for healthy fisheries and to open up state decisions on water allocation to meaningful public participation.

The success of the Western Water Project's efforts in Colorado and Montana has led to the opening of additional offices in Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, and California.

In just five years of operation, the Western Water Project had made a real difference. Here are a few of our accomplishments:

* The Montana Water Project has secured water leases in several chronically dewatered basins, including the largest instream flow lease ever completed in the Western U.S. by a private group (totaling more than 220 cfs on three tributaries of the upper Madison River).
* Thanks in large part to work by the Colorado Water Project, the Colorado legislature successfully passed a bill in the 2002 legislative session to improve stream flows in Colorado. SB 156 expands the state's instream flow program to allow acquisition of senior water rights for conversion to instream flow rights. The new law also allows these rights to be used for "reasonable" flows to improve the environment, whereas the law previously allowed only "minimum" flows to maintain existing environmental conditions.
* In February 2003, the Utah Water Project signed a settlement agreement with PacificCorp and state and federal agencies to decommission the American Fork Hydro Electric Project. This project is located in the popular American Fork Canyon and covers portions of a national forest, a national monument, and a wilderness area. Under the terms of the agreement, PacificCorp will remove a diversion dam and pipeline, restore the stream to a more natural condition, ensure fish passage, and transfer the water right to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to maintain adequate flows.
* In 2003, the Wyoming Water Project was instrumental in convening a study committee under the Joint Agriculture Committee to review Wyoming's water law and propose legislative options, the start of a process to facilitate privately held water rights to benefit instream flows and aquatic ecosystems.


fly fishing tips - catch and release

This post is from:
The Catch & Release Foundation -

Catch and Release How To Release Menu Bar

Catch & Release Guidelines*

MMThese guidelines are generic but remembering them will give all species of fish a greater chance of survival. A fish is too valuable to be caught and enjoyed only once, be responsible.

MM Use barbless hooks or circle hooks (especially when bait fishing, see circle hook article), or pinch the barb flat with pliers. If you use a net, use one made of cotton mesh or rubber. It is less harmful to fish scales, gills and eyes. Only net your fish if it is the only way to control it.
MMWet your hands when handling fish. Dry hands and gloves will remove its protective mucous (slime) coating and scales. These protective layers help prevent infection by waterborne disease. Do not beach a fish or let it flop around the deck of the boat.
MMTry not to remove the fish from the water. If you must, be quick and gentle, do not squeeze the fish. Do not hold the fish near the gills or eyes (Pike, Muskie, Snook, etc.) Needle nose pliers, hemostats, de-hookers etc., will speed up the removal of a deep set hook.
MMTo revive the fish, hold it under the belly and by the tail, keep it in an upright position underwater, do not move the fish back and forth** (this is also a good time to get a measurement and take a photo). If you are fishing in a river or stream, hold the fish facing the current. Be patient and give the fish as much time as it needs to recover and swim away on its own.
MMUse the right tools! See this helpful guide from Bass Pro Shops

The most important survival factors are:

MMLine test - Always use the heaviest line possible for each species of fish. Again: the longer you fight a fish, the more lactic acid is built up, the more exhausted it becomes, the greater the chance it will not survive. This is particularly true when fishing large saltwater species such as billfish.
MMHook Location - It would be ideal if all fish were hooked in either the upper or lower lip, unfortunately, this is not always the case. When fishing with small lures or live bait the chance for hooking a fish deep in the gullet or in the gills is very high. Try to back the hook out the way it went in. Never pull on the line when the hook is lodged deep in the gullet. Cutting the line and returning the fish to the water as quickly as possible will give it its greatest chance for survival. The longer a fish is out of water and the more you practice your surgical techniques, the less the fish has a chance to live.
MMDepth - When fishing depths of 30 feet or greater, you should bring a fish up slowly to the boat. This sometimes allows the fish to decompress (adjust to the change in water pressure). Pause while reeling the fish in and allow the air or gas from the fishes swim bladder to rise to the surface. See our attached news on “How to Deflate a Fish”.
MMWater Temperature - Playing a fish for an extended period of time in warm water increases its chance of dying. When the water temperature is high fish tire much more rapidly due to the increase of lactic acid that builds in their system. When fishing warm water get the fish to you as soon as possible, use a heavier line test than usual.

*We have revised the above guidelines according to suggestions made by our Catch & Release Task Force below.
**There is a currently difference in opinion amongst the experts about whether or not to move the fish back and forth when reviving. We will keep you posted with any statistical information as it comes available.

The Catch & Release Task Force
Paul Carpenter -- President, Catch & Release Foundation, Task Force Director
Vin Sparano -- Editor emeritus/Sr. Field Editor Outdoor Life, Board of Directors CRF
Jamie Epranian -- VP Conservation Sciences,Catch & Release Foundation
Doug Hannon -- "The Base Professor"
Glenn Lau -- Marine Specialist
Albia Dugger -- Sr. Editor Spotfishing Magazine, Fisheries Biologist
Duncan Barnes -- Editor, Field & Stream
Terry McDonnell -- Publisher, Editor & Chief , Sports Afield Magazine
Joan Salvato Wulff -- Writer, Lecturer, Wulff School of Flyfishing
Jerry Gibbs --Field Editor Outdoor Life
Mark Sosin -- Catch & Release Specialist
Michael Nussman & The American Sportfishing Association
Rip Cunningham -- Editor, Salt Water Sportsman
Jimmy Houston -- Fishing Professional, Jimmy Houston Outdoors
Tom Baudanza -- Marine Recreational Specialist, Virginia Sea Grant
Steve Pennaz -- Editor, North American Fisherman

This Page Was Last Updated: Thursday, June 02, 2005
Copyright 2001 - The Catch and Release Foundation

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