Thursday, February 16, 2017

Winter Wonderland

Well here we go... before I get to today's fishing I need to talk about something very important. It affects me, it affects you, and it affects fish and wildlife and wild land everywhere. So PLEASE take the time to read and consider this. And once I'm finished, I will show you all some crazy beautiful winter brook trout fishing. Trust me, it's worth reading the first part of this post.

It is no secret that our new POTUS does not put environmental causes near the top of his list, and right now one of the most important agencies in the National Government is at risk. Trump appointed Scott Pruitt, a man who has frequently voiced his dislike for the EPA, to head that exact agency. Plans are under way to massively de-fund it. And now, four Republican lawmakers are pushing to abolish the agency entirely.

 Here's the issue... the EPA has not been tremendously popular, particularly among republicans. It is no secret that mining, drilling, and manufacturing jobs are disappearing from this country. Because environmental regulations disproportionately effect these types of industry it is easy for many to shove the blame on the EPA. However, when cheap labor, bad health and safety standards, and lack of concern for habitat destruction is wildly prevalent in other countries it is clear that hard ball environmental regulation is not the reason these jobs are gone. Natural gas, though only somewhat cleaner, and is extracted and processed in such a way that it doesn't require the kind of labor that coal mining does and has subsequently taken over for the coal industry.

 So what harm is heavy environmental regulation doing for business? My father is plant manager of the Redland Brick facility in South Windsor. Before he was promoted to that position the permits to pump water out of the clay mine on site had expired and for six years it filled with water. Because that water was coming from a small drainage that was designated waters of the state, the clay mine was also technically waters of the state. To begin pumping the company had to do a tremendous amount of work to obtain the permits again. For many months it was a regular topic of conversation during car rides. My father had to regularly test the turbidity of the water to ensure it was up to standard. Having seen it in person, you could probably drink out of that pond with minimal filtration. After a long period of time, undoubtedly tons of paperwork, and continuous communication with environmental officials (remember, time is money), the necessary permits were obtained and pumping could begin. But even then the water had to be regularly tested and if it wasn't up to snuff the mine could not be pumped. Knowing what I know about stream ecology, that mine could have been pumped in a tenth the amount of time, with less money and less effort if the regulations were more relaxed without doing any environmental damage whatsoever. If anything, pumping into the stream helped it during the low water periods we had in 2016. So that is how environmental regulations can hurt business without benefiting the environment to any significant degree. Redland and my father did not want to do environmental damage, and would have done anything within reason to avoid it even without those regulations. It is these state regulations over-zealously enacted by democrats that do the real damage to the economy.

But here's the kicker... these were STATE LAWS. Abolishing and defending the EPA would do exactly nothing to change these state regulations. The EPA produces broad, sweeping regulation that effects every state and is based on careful study and rationalization. The Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act are products of the EPA, and such laws are what keeps guides, fly tyers, outfitters, rod makers, hunters, retailers, parks, and many other job creators in a healthy state. Not to mention the fact that these regulations have massively decreased the amount of pollutants in the air and water. I mean look at the Naugatuck. It is still dirty and urban, but what was once a toxic river can now sustain trout, salmon, bass, and stripers again. Without the EPA this would simply not have happened. The reason I say that is simple. State environmental laws stop at the borders. Pollution does not. CT could set a goal to keep levels of mercury in the air bellow a certain point, but if rust belt states don't share that goal and regulation, CT will get pollution via air currents. Mass could set laws preventing the dumping of nitrogenous waste into rivers, but if NH doesn't do the same the CT river in Mass will carry the same pollution. Environmental regulations regarding river pollution in Montana have the potential to effect North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana from JUST ONE WATERSHED. Do you see the problem now? Like it or not, we cannot bring back the coal and steel industry, at least not as it was. The EPA is necessary for protecting our water, air, and our own health. I would not feel secure going into the fishing industry were it not for common sense environmental regulation, and what this new administration and the GOP are doing against the public land, water, and clean energy scares me. It is a dangerous game. Please fight against this. Fight for common sense regulation. Not overly harsh regulation, not overly relaxed regulation, smart, safe, environmentally sound regulation. I can't live without it, and neither can you. Call your representatives, and evaluate government decisions based on actual sound facts, not media headlines and what the political party you support says. We know they all lie.


Recently I've been in awe with one particular little brook trout stream. Though tiny it has an amazing number of fish and an exceptional average size for the area. Today, in the wind and the cold, Kirk and I payed this special place a visit. The stream was buried in snow. On this day, fishing would not be particularly easy.



It actually didn't take long to kill the skunk. I was twitching a little Euro Pinkie around at the head of a broad pool and up came ms. char. After three takes she was finally hooked.


It took a little while to find more fish. Since the water was much colder than my previous visit, I think most of the fish stacked up in the deeper pools. Cold temperatures and bluebird skies are not the best fishing conditions. Luckily, brook trout are very forgiving and I found a pool full of fish rising to little emerging stoneflies. I tied on a winter stone pattern, though it was a size or two bigger than the naturals.


You can probably imagine my surprise when the stunning 10 inch brook trout I caught on my previous visit here came up and gently sipped the size 18 fly. I was pleased to see him again to say the least.


At that point I backed off and gave Kirk a turn. He tied on a dry and was soon into a fish. He landed it, photographed it, then began working the pool again. Another fish nosed up and sipped down the fly. This time the connection was not so good and the fish did not come back. A bit longer and we decided to visit another beautiful little stream. 

This one is in my opinion the prettiest brook trout stream in the area. It runs through a fairly undeveloped area, a valley full of tall hemlocks, dark rock, and deep green moss. Or, in today's case, white snow. 



This stream wasn't quite as kind to me as the first, but it gave up one solid brook trout. Kirk and I ended the day with an even two fish each, with one of each coming up for a dry. In a foot of snow in February, that is a blessing. 

12 comments:

  1. Great post! While our struggle with the State continues, there is hope for a permit, with numerous limitations and monitoring requirements, of course, in our future. Sometimes regulatory language gets in the way of common sense even when those regs are in the best interest of the environment.

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    1. In this case it's quantity over quality I guess.

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  2. Very well said Rowan!!! Keep writing and talking, your thoughts will make a difference. I agree 100%. Wonderful fishing in Feb. and the contrast with the snow is fantastic.
    Tie, fish, write and photo on...

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    1. The contrast against the snow makes beautiful photos but is unfortunately good at making an angler stand out like a sore thumb.

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  3. Rowan
    Absolute beautiful setting you were fishing; landing any species of fish on a bluebird day is a challenge glad you guys had success. Thanks for sharing

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    1. Cloudless, bright, cold days are tough. And snow makes it 10 times worse!

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  4. I really appreciate your post here RM. Seeing the level of thought, and centered thinking you are applying is awesome. I hope many more young people feel the same way you do - Going back to the days when the rivers around new england are a variety of colors based on the local paper mills, or filled with effluent from the local plastic factory (as the little wild trout stream across the street from me once was), that's just not ok for the world on a larger level. Awesome post!
    Will

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    1. Fortunately young people are mostly on the right side of this issue. Unfortunately, most lack the initiative to do something about it.

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  5. Thanks for supporting environmental regulations. Such rules do have costs, but they also produce value. As a fellow fly fisher, I appreciate clean water. Clean air and water deserve our government's protection.

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    1. The cost/benefit ratio clearly errs towards the benefits.

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  6. You are a wonderful advocate, whether you are sharing photos and your enjoyment of fishing or whether you are writing as you did here to share more of your thoughts on environmental regulations.

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