Stocking streams with trout for anglers to catch is common across the country. Stocking streams with bugs is not. But as the Arkansas River in Colorado began to bounce back from decades of pollution, state wildlife managers came up with an orthodox was to replenish the river's aquatic insects. Click here to see the full story.
One of the most important endorsements for tenkara fishing came from beloved fly-fishing writer John Gierach. The "Trout Bum" author has always been a fan of small streams, and found tenkara a great way to fish them. (He also happens to have a longstanding interest in Japanese culture.)
Gierach has a chapter about tenkara fishing in his new book, "All Fishermen Are Liars," and sat down for an interview with Daniel Galhardo, founder of Tenkara USA. It's worth a watch.
Five years after Tenkara USA introduced japanese-style fixed-line fishing to the United States, thousands -- maybe tens of thousands -- of anglers have learned how fun and effective it can be to fly-fish without a reel.
"Just a rod, a line and fly," was Tenkara USA's slogan, and it struck a chord with anglers intrigued by a minimalist approach to fishing. But tenkara isn't just simple. It's a great way to catch a lot of fish, because the ability of the long rod to hole the light line off the water makes for a great presentation and a direct connection to the fly. (Just ask European and American competition fly-fishers, who use very similar tackle and techniques.)
And while the first American tenkara fishers were mostly experienced fly anglers who recognized its potential, tenkara is user-friendly for newbies.
This week, About.com marks the fifth anniversary of tenkara fishing in the U.S. with an interview with Tenkara USA founder Daniel Galhardo. We also take a look at tenkara rods and lines and the basics of tenkara flies. There's also a resource guide to much more information about tenkara fly-fishing.
It turns out didymo wasn't being "spread" on the soles of anglers' wading shoes after all. It was already present in many streams, and only began blooming in recent years because of environmental changes.
But that doesn't mean we no longer need to worry about dirty wading shoes spreading contaminants. Clean angling advocates say some anglers have taken the new findings on the cause of didymo blooms to mean we're off the hook when it comes to clean angling -- but switching from felt to rubber soles (if possible) and practicing Check, Clean and Dry are still vital to the health of our trout streams.
Felt soles may not "spread" didymo where it's already native, but they can still spread whirling disease, New Zealand mud snails and who knows what else. And didymo can be transported via wading shoes to pleas where it isn't native. Just ask anglers in New Zealand, where introduced didymo has wreaked havoc on blue-ribbon streams.
When Didymosphenia geminate, very un-affectionately known as "rock snot," began appearing on beloved American trout streams in the mid-2000s, state governments and environmental organizations said it was being "spread" by anglers, in the damp felt soles of their wading boots.
It was a logical conclusion, promoted by a Canadian environmental scientist who studied the first major North American didymo blooms in British Columbia.
But now, that same scientist says further research shows the rash of didymo has not been caused by the spread of a new, bloom-prone variant after all. Didymo was already native to North America; what's different now is that environmental factors are causing it to bloom where it never did before, Max Bothwell writes in the journal Diatom Research.
Here's the scenario: you think there's a big fish lurking at midstream in a large river. The forest comes right to the water's edge, leaving no space for you to throw a back cast, and the river's too deep to wade out and make room for one.
If you'e holding a two-handed Spey or switch rod, you're just a few well-practiced arm movements away from a cast that sails out across the water and deploys your fly in the far-off fishy spot.
Originally developed in the U.K. to fish for Atlantic salmon, Spey fishing has become popular in the Pacific Northwest and the Great Lakes for salmon and steelhead trout. Now, it's catching on around the country, as anglers discover how useful and fun Spey fishing can be for regular stream trout, bass and saltwater species.
Unlike regular overhead fly-casting, Spey fishing doesn't use a back cast. Instead, the angler flips his or her line into position on the water in such a way that a simple roll cast -- along with the flinging power of a rod as long as 15 feet -- can launch a very long line, even with a sinking tip and a heavy fly.
The equipment is specialized, and so is the technique. But once you get the hang of it, Spey fishing is a blast. Check out About.com's guide to the basics of Spey fishing, an overview of Spey rods and lines, and a look at the ancient and effective technique most often associated with Spey casting: swinging a wet fly or streamer across the current.
Early spring can be a great time to fish streamers. Most aquatic insects are still a few weeks away from being active, so trout aren't in "bug" mode yet. But if a hapless sculpin or minnow (or a fly that looks like one) can be had without too much trouble, it will make a nice breakfast for a trout that's hungry after a long, cold winter without much to eat.
Thing is, streamers are no longer just something you try when there are no bugs around. We're in a golden age of streamer fishing, year-round, with inventive tiers coming up with new patterns every day and anglers anxious to try them down deep, where the big fish lurk.
Strong, sleek and elusive, the steelhead is among the royalty of American game fish. There's a lot of great steelhead fishing in the Great Lakes region, but the real mecca for these ocean-going rainbow trout is the West Coast, and especially the Pacific Northwest.
State governments have supplemented wild populations of steelhead, salmon and stream trout with hatchery-born fish for decades, to make sure there are enough for anglers to catch. But in recent times, fly-fishers have come to value wild fish above all else. And evidence is mounting that stocked fish can cause genetic and ecological harm to wild fish populations.
So the Washing Department of Fish and Wildlife plan to quit stocking steelhead in two rivers went over well with Trout Unlimited, the trout and salmon conservation group.
"Rebuilding wild steelhead populations requires designating rivers where wild fish are free from the harmful effects of hatcheries and ensuring that those rivers have enough quality habitat to support healthy, naturally reproducing populations," says said Rob Masonis, vice president for TU's Western Conservation Program.
Click here to learn which rivers will be managed for wild fish only (and where the fish that used to be stocked in them will now go.)
Eric Steel's documentary "Kiss the Water" tells the story of Scottish fly tier Megan Boyd, whose full-dress salmon flies were prized by local guides and UK royals. It's a beautiful film that shows the parent culture of European and American fly-fishing, and sheds light on a gifted but reclusive tier whose flies were both works of art and effective fishing lures.
Click here for the review, and for a special discount for About.com readers to watch "Kiss the Water" online.
Competitive fly-fishing has been "blowing up," as its fans like to say, for the past few years. Hundreds of anglers, many of them young, take part in dozens of competitions, mostly for bragging rights, in a league that keeps score.
But the founder of the TroutLegend league thinks the European-style competition rules of the tournaments are discouraging anglers who fish in what's become a traditional American way: nymphing with split shot and a strike indicator.
Euro-style rules don't allow split shot or indicators, and tackle has evolved accordingly -- mainly long, light rods and really long leaders. But with the new rules for TroutLegend's local, one-day competitions, your regular 9-foot 5-weight will now be right at home.
It will be interesting to see which method is more successful, tight-line or suspension.