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November 15, 2017


TOURNAMENT SALUTES WAR HEROES

War Heroes will compete with world-class anglers at the 6th Annual Cheeca Lodge All American Backcountry Fishing Tournament, November 16-18, 2017, at Cheeca Lodge & Spa in Islamorada, Florida. In honor of Veteran's Day, the event will host two war heroes to join the competition. The acclaimed event was inspired by President George H.W. Bush, an avid Keys angler and a regular visitor to Cheeca. Proceeds benefit the locally based nonprofit Guides Trust Foundation (GTF) for Florida Keys guides in need.

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"This is a great opportunity for these war heroes to join discerning anglers from across the country as they hunt for the most elusive game fish in the world," said General Manager Bob LaCasse. "They have earned this chance to unwind and join the other anglers, while enjoying the fabulous fisheries of the Keys."

Anglers fish on a guided charter boat or their own boat with a licensed guide. They compete for trophies and awards for releasing five different species of inshore fish: snook, redfish, bonefish, tarpon and permit. Individual and team trophies will be awarded for fly, general tackle/spinning/conventional and artificial lure divisions. Live bait is permitted in the general tackle division.

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Social events are held at the Cheeca Lodge & Spa, a sportsman paradise renowned for its barefoot elegance, with fishing departing from nearby World Wide Sportsman.

This tournament kicks-off on Thursday, November 16, with a cocktail reception, rules meeting, patriotic banquet on the beach and auction. Tickets to attend the kickoff dinner and auction are available to the community with advance reservations.

Competitive fishing hours are from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, November 17, and Saturday, November 18, 2017. The tournament culminates on Saturday with an awards ceremony and banquet, where anglers can mingle with fishing celebrities such as world-famous fly angler Stu Apte. Awards for Individual Grand Champion, Individual Runner-Up, Grand Champion Team, Runner-Up Grand Champion Team, Champions in the Fly, Artificial and General Tackle Divisions will be presented.

More details are available at cheeca.com/all-american.

LIVING SHORELINES MAY SOLVE EROSION AT CHESAPEAKE BAY

How anti-erosion measures hurt fish—and living shorelines may help.

by Amorina Kingdon - Hakai Magazine
 

Photo by Jimmy Jacobs

The land beneath Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the United States, is sinking. Couple that with climate change, and the sea level is rising twice as fast as the global average, chewing away at shorelines and drowning islands. Private landowners, who occupy about 85 percent of the shoreline, have responded with walls, rocks, and barriers, which have helped slow the losses. But evidence is growing that this coastal hardening may be insufficient at holding back future seas, and is doing serious damage to more than a dozen fish and crustacean species. Now, planners and landowners are hoping engineered living shorelines can solve both problems at once.

A hardened shore makes life more difficult for trout, perch, crab, and other species that need a natural shoreline to thrive, says Matthew Kornis, who recently published a paper evaluating the effect of shoreline hardening on these species.

Kornis, a fish biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, studied hundreds of sites in and around Chesapeake Bay, from natural beaches and marshlands, to shores lined with riprap (cages of loose rock) and bulkheads (walls, often wooden). The harder the shoreline, he found, the harder hit the species. This was true even for riprap, which is often considered more environmentally friendly than sheer walls.

Kornis says natural shorelines offer things hardened shorelines don't: juvenile fish live in the nooks and crannies of rocky shorelines, for instance, and these environments serve as nurseries. Fish also feed within beds of seaweed and seagrass. Hardening decimates these complex habitats, leaving nothing to eat and nowhere to hide.

Hardening isn't unique to Chesapeake Bay. Estimates suggest that about 14 percent of the United States' coast had been hardened, and the shorelines of Europe and China are also heavily armored. While the motivations for reinforcement vary (development, industry, sea level rise), most Chesapeake Bay residents are trying to protect their property from rampant erosion. Sea level rise is a relatively new problem for many coasts, but land subsidence means it's been the norm in the Chesapeake for a long time.

"Erosion has been happening for centuries," says Zoe Johnson, climate change coordinator with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Chesapeake Bay. Tide gauge data shows the water rose nearly a third of a meter in the past century. Similarly, the sea moved inland by roughly half a meter a year on average. But these rates are accelerating as climate change adds a rising sea to sinking land. "The influence of global factors will outpace the land subsidence," she says.

In the early 2000s, Maryland convened a climate change task force, including Johnson, to study how to better adapt to these future seas. They identified one promising method that seemed to stand up to the sea: living shorelines.

CLUB PROFILE: BACKCOUNTRY FLY FISHERS - Naples, Florida

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The Backcountry Fly Fishers of Naples, Florida was formed in 1993 to:
• Provide members a place to share fly fishing experiences in the interest of fun and fellowship
• Assist and educate members to improve their fly fishing skills and knowledge of the sport
• Promote conservation of natural resources
• Promote the sport of fly fishing in the community

Today the club has over 200 members. We have a monthly meeting featuring an expert speaker and fly tying demonstrations. Monthly outings provide an opportunity for members to fish in an interesting variety of area locations. Casting and fly tying classes are held monthly for beginners and advanced skill levels. Members receive a monthly the newsletter, the e-Breeze.

The Backcountry Fly Fishers is affiliated with the International Federation of Fly Fishers, an international organization of over 300 clubs, whose purpose is to provide a strong voice in the state and national conservation movement. The Federation provides fly fishing education programs and teaching aids.

The Backcountry Fly Fishers is affiliated with the American Casting Association (ACA). ACA is organized to foster national and international amateur sport competition in the sports of angling and casting.
 

MEETING INFORMATION:

Club meetings are open to the public and guests are welcome.
Meeting Location
Tiburon Golf Course Clubhouse
2620 Tiburon Dr., Naples, FL
Directions
On Vanderbilt Beach Rd., turn north onto Tiburon Dr.
On Airport-Pulling Rd., turn east onto Tiburon Blvd., then south (right) onto Tiburon Dr., to clubhouse.
Meeting Dates

Second Monday of the month October through May
Meeting Schedule
6:00-6:30 PM Socializing, activity sign up, raffle ticket sales, fly market
6:30-7:00 PM Announcements, activities schedule, business meeting
7:00-7:15 PM Demonstration
7:15-7:30 PM Break, activity sign up, raffle ticket sales, fly market
7:30-8:30 PM Program
8:30-8:45 PM Raffle
8:45 PM Adjourn
Next Meeting
December 11, 2017

After the Hurricane

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Needless to say, when major hurricanes sweep through an area, our first concern is for the people living there. In the aftermath folks close enough pitch in to help rescue those in need and later look for the missing. The rest of us that are far removed reach for our wallets to provide support for those efforts.

It is only later that we begin to ask how the fish and fisheries faired during those disasters. We now are far enough removed to ask those questions regarding both Harvey’s impact on the Texas coast and Irma’s in the Florida Keys and along with that state’s southwest coast where she made landfall.

Along the South Texas Coast, both strong winds and flooding were the dangers from Hurricane Harvey. In Houston’s Harris County alone, at some point, more than 1300 square miles were under water.

Fortunately for saltwater fly fishers in Houston, as soon as the week following the storm the three Fishing Tackle Unlimited stores, the Orvis Store, Bass Pro Shops, and Gordy & Sons Outfitters were all open for business and striving for some normalcy. Farther down the coast near Corpus Christi the popular Swan Point Fly Shop at Rockport did sustain damage, but by the end of September it too was up and running.

Obviously, the guide business took a double hit on this coast. Many guides were off the water trying to put their lives and property back together. Additionally, their local clientele was busy with those same chores, leaving no time for fishing.

As for the fish, most reports point to little to no effect. Redfish, trout and flounder have all been reported to be present, hungry and getting less fishing pressure. The biggest hazard for fishing has been the amount of debris in the water, necessitating extra care while running boats.

As for Hurricane Irma’s effect on fishing in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Antigua, Barbuda and surround isles, who knows? Those places are still in recovery mode and the infrastructure is in no shape to support visitors to find out.

The Florida Keys from roughly Cudjoe Key to Islamorada took the brunt of Irma and those islands were not opened to visitors until early this month. The entire stretch still is cleaning up and rebuilding. Hotels, restaurants, fly shops and guide services all are spotty at the moment.

Some reports filtering out point to the fishing having been basically unaffected. But, of course, as in Texas, debris in the water can be a hazard.

Along the Southwest coast of the Florida peninsula, it is a mixed story. Chokoloskee, Naples and Marco Islands all took a beating and much like the Keys are still recovering. Up at Fort Myers, the storm turned inland ravaging some of that city. But, the barrier isles of Sanibel, Captiva, Cayo Costa, as well as Pine Island and its namesake sound, were basically spared. They are open for business. Whitney’s Bait & Tackle and Norm Ziegler’s Fly Shop, both on Sanibel, have their doors open and are dispensing fly gear and fishing tips.

The staff of Southern Saltwater Fly Fishing was on Pine Island Sound the week following Irma’s visit to assess the fishing. While the waters were churned up and quite murky for that time of year, the area was alive with tarpon of all sizes. Up around the mangroves the snook were also feeding. Once the water clears, this part of the coast will be back to business as usual.   

Gulf Coast Fly Fishing Fair

The 4th Annual Gulf Coast Fly Fishing Fair is slated for September 16, 2017, at the Ocean Springs Civic Center in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. The event is co-sponsored by the Gulf Coast Council of Fly Fishers International and the Historic Ocean Springs Saltwater Fly Fishing Club.

The public is invited with free admission for introductory classesfly tying demonstrations, regional fly fishing seminars, vendors, outdoors-related auctions and raffles of equipment, clothing and artwork. 

            Proceeds from the event will benefit programs at the University of Southern Mississippi – Gulf Coast Research Laboratory and Gulf Coast Council efforts, which include fly fishing programs with the Atchafalaya High Adventure Camp and other regional Scout troops and summer camps at the GCRL and various conservation projects recently including a reef building project on Mobile Bay.

Many of the best casting instructors and fly tiers in the region will be attending. Anyone who has ever thought about learning to fly fish, or just improving their skills, has a great opportunity to learn from the best. 

For more details visit gulfcoastfff.org.

Dual Function Angling Shirts From Capital Sportsman

Anglers in saltwater environments have two main concerns when it comes to shirts to wear. The first is protection from the sun, followed closely by comfort. If you are a traveling sportsman there are a couple of more things to consider. Having shirts that look good and that can do double duty both on and off the water make packing an easier chore.

A couple of lines of shirts from Capital Sportsman can take care of all of those concerns. One is the Hemingway Fishing Collection. These casual classic, performance, and rip-stop fishing shirts are ideal for the avid anglers’ need.

 


 

The Hemingway Collection

 

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At 4.5 ounces these 100 percent poplin cotton shirts are cool and comfortable. They feature two bellow pockets, a placket with seven wood-tone buttons, polyester mesh ventilation, a utility loop and roll-up sleeve tabs. These long sleeve shirts are available in four colors.


 

The Ultimate Hybrid Shirt

The other option is the Ultimate Hybrid Shirt. These shirts offer all the features anglers crave, but in stylish package that can be worn for evening functions as well. They feature extended sleeve plackets, open front pockets for easy access, a secure pocket for valuables and comfortable fabric.

Check out these flexible shirt designs at capitalsportsman.com.

Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir

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Progress is being made on the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir to the south of Lake Okeechobee in Florida. The project by the South Florida Water District and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is designed to rectify conditions that have led to the loss of seagrass beds on both the east and west coasts of the peninsula, as well as in Florida Bay.

The project has been championed by many environmental groups, as well as the Everglades Foundation (evergladesfoundation.org) and the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (bonefishtarpontrust.org.)

A deep above-ground reservoir, along with the features needed to meet state water quality standards, will be built on lands the state already owns, with the core being “A-2” parcel located between the Miami and North New River canals. It borders private agricultural land to the north, the “A-1” parcel to the east, the Miami Canal on the west, and the Holey Land Wildlife Management Area to the south. The Southwest Florida Water Management District will identify other state-owned land, as well as private property in the surrounding area, that could be purchased or swapped to achieve the optimal project configuration.

Preliminary project coast is estimated at $1.4 billion to be split by state and federal governments, as outlined in the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.

Project benefits are increased flow of water to Everglades National Park and the Florida Keys, while reducing damaging discharges into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers.


Flies for the Texas Coast

If you have plans for traveling to the coast of the Lone Star State anytime soon for some fly fishing, you might want to check out the website of the Rockport Fly Fishers first. The club was formed back in 2007 in the town just north of Corpus Christi on the south Texas coast. Their home fishing waters are on Copano and Aransas Bays that flank the town.

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If you click the link to Flies on their home page, you’ll find a detailed list of the main forage species targeted by game fish in this area. The list includes photos of the baitfish and crustaceans, as well as the flies that best imitate those creatures.

The club’s website is located at rockportflyfishers.com.

Mangroves on the Move?

Red mangroves growing along the shoreline. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs

Red mangroves growing along the shoreline. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs

Three species of mangrove trees are prevalent on the coasts of South Florida and two of them figure prominently in producing habitat for saltwater game fish. The red mangrove is found along shorelines and features a web of roots that form impenetrable tangles beneath the trees.     Black mangroves are also found near the shore and often are flooded by rising tides. They, however, don’t have the root tangle, but rather a series of root stubs that protrude up from the ground around the trees.

The white mangrove is found on higher, drier ground and has very little influence on fish species.

Mangrove forests often form on shallow flats and can collect debris and sand to eventually become islands. But, while still flooded the bases of the trees offer protection to a host of forage species, and hunting grounds for predators. Mangroves also protect shorelines from erosion, especially during gale and hurricane conditions.

In recent decades the Sunshine State’s mangroves have been disappearing to shoreline development in most areas of the state.  However, a new study published in the magazine Hydobiologia authored by Villanova Biology Professor Samantha Chapman, coupled with a report from Smithsonian Environmental Research Center scientists, points to some good news on the mangrove coasts.

Prof. Chapman’s research shows that mangroves provide as much as eight times more protection for coastlines than do salt marshes, and the mangrove stands offer a much more cost effect form of protection than do man-made breakwaters.

As for the Smithsonian work, it used aerial photographs from 1984, overlaid by satellite imagery from 2011, to show the northern limit of mangroves at the 30-degree north latitude line, which is just north of St. Augustine. Surprisingly, it also showed that the mangrove trees were encroaching northward, with the greatest build up found in the area between 29 and 30 degrees of latitude. Through there the mangroves are replacing salt marshes.

The main reason for this expansion seems to spring from less extreme cold weather in this part of Florida in recent decades. The number of days when the air temperature fell below 25 degrees had declined during that period, allowing the tropical trees to move north.

Click Before You Cast!

Where are the fish? It is an age-old question Chesapeake Bay anglers ask when searching countless tidal creeks, rivers and bays stretching over 4,500 square miles and averaging 21 feet deep. We all understand that fish are influenced by food, shelter and water conditions. So where do we find this information? The answer is just a few clicks away.

The State of Maryland, Commonwealth of Virginia and the federal government collect and post a variety of environmental monitoring data online to help us better understand and care for our waters.

This goldmine of information also provides powerful tools to help you eliminate unproductive waters, saving you fuel and increasing your chances of fishing success.

Step 1: Think like a fish
There is a wealth of information available about all Chesapeake Bay game- fish that can teach you where, when and how to catch them. Once you understand their favorite seasonal haunts, pull out your charts and get ready to start zooming in on productive spots.

Step 2: Eliminate areas outside of preferred salinity range
Some bay fish are better than others at surviving over a range of salinity conditions. For instance, rockfish are found anywhere from freshwater to the ocean. The habitat of fish with limited salinity ranges, such as largemouth bass, expands or contracts with changing salinities.

However, salinities in any spot vary greatly due to the amount of rainfall entering through the Chesapeake’s rivers. During years of low rainfall, saltier conditions spread further up the bay.

If you know what salinity your target gamefish prefers and compare it to current salinity maps, you can eliminate unproductive waters.

Step 3: Eliminate poorly oxygenated areas
Fish, just like us, need oxygen to survive. During cooler months, there is plenty of oxygen in most areas of the bay. However, when the waters warm, there are large areas, generally in deeper waters, which have very little or none.

This is caused by the denser, saltier, deeper water’s inability to be recharged with oxygen from surface mixing. Algal blooms also cause low oxygen levels at night through respiration, or when they die and decompose.

Avoid fishing in waters with less than about 3 mg/l of dissolved oxygen.

Step 4: Eliminate areas outside of preferred temperature range
Water temperature greatly influences the seasonal distribution of gamefish. Each species has a preferred temperature range where cooler temperatures slow them down and warmer temperatures increase their activity. Some fish avoid high water temperatures, often moving as deep as possible.

An angler’s adage: To find fish in the cooler months, look for warmer water, and in the warmer months, look for cooler water.

An event called the Rockfish Squeeze occurs in the summer when striped bass try to find cooler water but are prevented by poorly oxygenated waters. They end up squeezed into a small layer of barely suitable water at the extremes of their maximum temperature tolerance (84°F) and their minimum dissolved oxygen requirements (~3mg/l).

Step 5: Eliminate areas with poor water clarity
Poor water clarity can make it hard for fish to find and capture food. Clarity is impacted by the amount of suspended sediment and algae in the water. Excess sediment carried into the bay by large rains or re-suspended by wave action can reduce clarity and result in coffee-colored water.

Fish avoid high levels of suspended sediment but often feed in or near the edges of this murky water because these areas often contain food. Large algal blooms can often color the water various shades of green or brownish red. In some cases, fish avoid areas with dense algal blooms because the algae can be toxic or cause low oxygen levels.

Step 6: Identify preferred habitat
Fish need places to live, eat and reproduce. Due to constantly changing water conditions, preferred habitat can vary greatly throughout the year.

Experienced anglers know that gamefish often congregate on or near areas where relatively deep water is near shallow water or habitat edges. Typical areas include channel edges, drop-offs, flats, grass beds, oyster bars and points.

In the remaining areas on your chart, mark places with these types of features. The best fishing areas often include a combination of several key habitats.

Step 7: Find moving water
Once you have identified your fishing spots, check the streamflow, wind, wave conditions and tide charts to find moving water.

This is important because moving water can funnel baitfish and crabs through the prime habitat areas gamefish feed. Rising tides can move fish into shallower areas while falling tides can pull prey out into deeper channels.

Wind direction, duration and speed can mean a big difference to your fishing day. Not only does wind oxygenate the water, but winds blowing against the tide can often produce larger waves than normal and can slow tidal flushing. Likewise, winds blowing in the same direction of the tide can speed up tidal flushing.

Increased flows can improve fishing by cooling and oxygenating the water and dislodging food, but when flows get too high, they can quickly alter conditions by decreasing water clarity and salinity.

Step 8: Get out there!
You have now identified the best places to find fish right now—not last week or last month—but right now. All that is left to do is to go out and catch a bunch of fish!

Article by Tom Parham—tidal monitoring program lead.
Appears in Vol. 20, No. 3 of the Maryland Natural Resource magazine, summer 2017.