Monthly Archives: November 2011

DRBC Calls Off Vote

From the DRBC website:


New Meeting Date Still To Be Determined

(WEST TRENTON, N.J.) — The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) today announced that the special meeting scheduled for Nov. 21 to consider draft natural gas development regulations has been postponed to allow additional time for review by the five commission members.

No additional information is available at this time.

The DRBC is a federal/interstate government agency responsible for managing the water resources within the 13,539 square-mile Delaware River Basin. The five commission members are the governors of the basin states (Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania) and the commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ North Atlantic Division, who represents the federal government.

Please visit the commission’s web site at for updates as they become available.

Tenkara Wins a Tournament

Fly-Fishing: Tenkara rod a smash in tournament debut
First Published in The Daily Gazette, Schenectady, N.Y.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
By Morgan Lyle

There was a milestone a few weeks back in the evolutionof tenkara fly-fishing in the United States.

A tenkara angler was a member of the four-angler, two-guide team that won the Utah Single Fly Event, a well-known contest on the Green River in September.

What’s more, the tenkara angler, Erik Ostrander, caught more fish than anyone else in the contest except for one — and the one was Lance Egan, one of the best fly-fishers in the country, who just two weeks before had been the high rod on the U.S. men’s team at the fly-fishing world championships in Italy.

“To come in behind Lance isn’t a bigdeal,” said Brian Hoskisson, the guide in the boat with Ostrander and teammate Paul Stay. “Erik kind of came in first among mortals.”

As far as anyone knows, this was the first time a tenkara rod had been used in competition in the U.S.

Ostrander occasionally uses a conventional fly rod for streamer fishing, but does most of his fishing with a tenkara rod. He and two friends have launched a tenkara-only guide service, Tenkara Guides LLC, in Salt Lake.

He had never met his teammates until the night before the Single Fly. He had seen on an Internet forum that one of the team’s original four members had been forced to drop out of the contest, and volunteered to fill the spot. Upon arriving at the motel near Flaming Gorge Reservoir, introduced himself to Stay and Hoskisson, and told them he would be using a tenkara rod.

“They were a little reluctant that I was going to be fishing with a fixed line,” Ostrander said.

Hoskisson recalled, “The guys had me over to their room to talk strategy. Everyone pulls out their rod tubes, and [Ostrander] pulls out this tiny little tube and stretches out this 131⁄2-foot thing across the room.

“I had seen them before, but I had always figured they were for small streams only, so I was kind of wondering if we weren’t going to go out there and have a rough time of it,” he said. “I suggested he bring a western rod with him as a backup, but he said, ‘I’m going to give this a try.’ ”

This took nerve. The Utah Single Fly attracts serious anglers, and the Green River is powerful and large. A poor showing would have been embarrassing for Ostrander, and would have been terrible PR for a method of fishing still struggling for respect from much of the fly-fishing world.

Then again, Ostrander had reason to be confident. He had fished the Green with his tenkara rod a number of times, including the day before the contest, and done well.

For the competition, he fished a 13-foot, seven-inch Tenkara USA Amago, and chose for his one fly a foam-hopper pattern made by the guide in the team’s other boat, Scott Barus. He Turle-knotted the hopper to a four-foot, 3X tippet, which was knotted to four feet of 2X, which was knotted to a furled, 15-foot, custom tenkara line made by Streamside Leaders.

Adding to his teammates’ anxiety was the fact that Ostrander would have to hand-line his fish. If you have 23 feet of line attached to the tip of a 131⁄2-foot rod, with no way to reel in, you simply can’t hold the rod in one hand and scoop up the trout with the other.

We’re all taught that hand-lining a large fish is a recipe for disaster, but Ostrander, like many tenkara anglers, does it all the time.

“For me, hand-lining is just a fact of life when fishing tenkara, and any good tenkara fisherman is going to know how to hand-line fish,” he said.

Over the next eight hours, Ostrander hand-lined 33 of the 46 trout caught by his half of Team Stonefly Society (named for a Trout Unlimited chapter in Salt Lake City.) The team’s two boats ended up with 201 points (at one point per fish and one point per inch of two measured fish.) The next closest team scored 172.

“The biggest thing that impressed me right off was how well he could fish the pockets with having minimal line on the water,” said Hoskisson, who has guided on the Green for eight years. “The only thing touching the water was his fly. We’d go along and Erik would just pick the pockets as we’d go.”

At the banquet at day’s end, “You heard a lot of, ‘Huh,’ ” Hoskisson said.

Ostrander is too nice a guy to gloat, but he was clearly happy to have shown the potential of fixed-line fly-fishing.

“A lot of these guys told me, ‘If I had known you were going to use a tenkara rod ahead of time, I would have tried to talk you out of it.’ Now, there are a lot of people that want to fish with me.”

Morgan Lyle’s commentary appears regularly in The Daily Gazette. Reach him at

Updated: NY ‘No’ Vote on Delaware Fracking: Would It Matter?

New York’s Environmental Conservation Commissioner is reportedly hinting that the state will vote “no” on fracking in the Delaware watershed.
But don’t celebrate yet, fracking opponents. Even if New York votes against it, fracking may nonetheless be green-lighted on November 21.
That’s when the Delaware River Basin Commission is scheduled to vote on fracking in the region of the Delaware, which provides drinking water for millions and habitat for one of the nation’s best wild trout fisheries.
The DRBC consists of New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and the federal government. If three of them vote “yes,” the DRBC can start issuing permits.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has already asked for a one-year moratorium to study fracking further. But Pennsylvania has embraced it and President Obama wants more domestic gas and oil production. Delaware (the state) is nowhere near the gas-rich Marcellus shale deposit and thus has nothing to fear if fracking goes forward (and arguably no good reason to oppose it.)

Update: I’ve just learned that Delaware, the state. gets a great deal of its drinking water from the Delaware watershed — no surprise, I guess — and so might have plenty to fear should the water be contaminated with fracking waste. So maybe Delaware will be a “no”?

Updated again Nov. 17: Delaware will in fact vote no. NJ and PA will reportedly vote yes. That leaves the Army Corps of Engineers to break the tie.

The wild card, however, is that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is suing the DRBC for considering approving fracking without sufficient study of its impacts.

Trout Unlimited’s New Stocking Policy

A controversy with no simple answer

First published in The daily Gazette, Schenectady, N.Y., 11/3/11

Trout Unlimited really got people talking last month when it announced that its members may not take part in stocking “non-native, hatchery trout” in streams that already hold native trout.

The directive isn’t expected to curtail stocking, which is mostly conducted by state conservation departments. But it has stirred up a lively philosophical discussion about the merits and perils of adding catchable trout to our streams.

Many — maybe most — New York streams that have been stocked for generations also hold at least a few native trout, meaning trout that were not only born in the stream, but are in fact descendants of the trout that were here before people were here. If the presence of any native trout at all made an entire stream off-limits to stocking, an awful lot of New York trout fishing would simply disappear.

“Does one stop stocking brown trout in Willowemoc Creek, for example?” asked Phil Hulbert, chief of the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Bureau of Fisheries, referring to the storied Catskills stream that holds wild and holdover browns and brookies, no doubt including some natives.

“I’m confident there would be people that have opinions both ways. The way we try to deal with this is in a technical sense, not phil­osophical. When we decide whether a stream should be stocked, we take into account the abundance of wild trout and we make adjustments for the presence of wild trout, in terms of whether there’s unused carrying capacity for hatchery trout.”

If there are enough wild fish, the DEC doesn’t bother stocking at all, Hulbert noted.

Mike Walchko, president of the Clearwater Chapter of TU in Albany, said the chapter doesn’t take part in any stocking activity, preferring to focus on maintaining and improving trout habitat. He agreed with Hulbert that the issue of where to stock and where not to is complex.

“Since streams are continuous bodies, most brook trout populations are found in the upper, colder, cleaner headwater reaches, while the lower stretches are the sections stocked with hatchery fish,” he said. “Many streams are dependent upon these stockings to support a fishable population in these lower stretches.”

Larry Harris, head of TU’s national leadership council, wrote this week to chapter presidents that he was taken aback by the controversy arising from the new policy. After all, TU has been on record for years that stocking should be avoided if it was likely to harm native trout populations.

“I began receiving calls the very next morning after the resolution was sent to council chairs and chapter presidents,” Harris said. “What I am learning is that some chapters in several states currently stock hatchery trout in streams containing native trout.”

And so Harris and a number of TU leaders from around the country are forming a committee to help state councils and local chapters comply with the policy in a way that makes sense on their local waters.

I’ve complained in this space, and others have complained in other spaces, that some New York waters are stocked with way too many cookie-cutter trout with barely any survival instincts. But I also fish some streams where all the trout are wild, others where most are wild, and still others where there’s a pleasing mix of wild trout and holdover stockies. One of my regular spots even has a few genuine, certified, heritage-strain brookies, their DNA untainted by interlopers from California or Germany. None of these are secret or remote. Even after a century of heavy stocking, New York still offers plenty of “natural” trout fishing.

But TU’s heart is in the right place.

Native trout can never be replaced, and anything that will protect the ones we have is a good idea.

Morgan Lyle’s commentary appears regularly in The Daily Gazette. Reach him at