September 28, 2009

Ken Burns' The National Parks

I've been watching Ken Burns' The National Parks: America's Best Idea the past two nights and have been amazed by the beauty, especially of the parks featured in the Western United States.

The first two episodes have been primarily about two parks, Yellowstone & Yosemite, and men like John Muir who set the stage for them to become the first National Parks in the world. While I'm watching this, seeing the beautiful landscapes awash with large game, beautiful mountain vistas overlooking vast canyons, towering waterfalls emptying into cool valley streams, all I kept thinking was, "Damn, that looks like a great place to do some fishing."  

So if you're like me, here's an overview of fishing for both (courtesy of the National Park Service):

Yosemite Fishing Regulations  

Fishing regulations for Yosemite National Park follow those set by the State of California, including the requirement that people 16 or older have a valid California fishing license. The season for stream and river fishing begins on the last Saturday in April and continues through November 15. 

The only exception is Frog Creek near Lake Eleanor, where fishing season does not open until June 15 to protect spawning rainbow trout.  The late opening includes the first 1/2 mile of Frog Creek up to the first waterfall, including the pool below this waterfall. The late opening also extends 200 feet from the mouth of Frog Creek out onto the surface of Lake Eleanor and along its shore for a distance of 200 feet from the creek's mouth. Otherwise, all lakes and reservoirs are open to fishing year-round.  Six native fish species occur in the Merced River in Yosemite National Park, from Yosemite Valley to El Portal. 

Of these, only rainbow trout and Sacramento sucker occur as high in elevation as Yosemite Valley. Waterfalls created by Pleistocene glaciation blocked fish from populating the Merced River above Yosemite Valley and the Tuolumne River inside the park boundary.

Native Fish Species 
  • Rainbow trout 
  • California roach 
  • Sacramento pikeminnow 
  • Hardhead — California Species of Concern 
  • Sacramento sucker 
  • Riffle sculpin 
Nine non-native species and one hybrid of non-native fish occur in Yosemite National Park. From the first recorded planting in 1877 until 1990, more than 33 million fish were stocked into waters of Yosemite, primarily trout in high elevation lakes and streams.  

Rainbow trout, although native to lower elevations, are non-native to waters higher in elevation than Yosemite Valley. Arctic grayling, Dolly Varden and Piute cutthroat trout are believed to be extirpated, no longer existing, in the park. 

Nonnative Fish Species 
  • Smallmouth bass 
  • Arctic grayling 
  • Brook trout 
  • Dolly Varden 
  • Brown trout 
  • Lahontan cutthroat trout — Federally threatened 
  • Piute cutthroat trout — Federally threatened 
  • Golden trout 
  • Rainbow trout 
  • Rainbow-golden hybrid trout

Yellowstone Fishing Regulations

The fishing season begins the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend (usually the last weekend in May) and extends through and includes the first Sunday in November. Exceptions are noted within the Exceptions to General Regulations table within the Fishing Regulations handbook. Also note that there are areas within the park that are permanently closed to human entry and disturbance, have seasonal area and trail closures, off-trail travel and daylight hour limitations, and party size recommendations. In addition, some streams may be temporarily closed to fishing on short notice to protect fish populations in mid-summer due to low water levels and high water temperatures.  

Native cutthroat trout are the most ecologically important fish of the park and the most prized, and highly regarded by visiting anglers. Several factors, mostly related to exotic species introductions, are threatening the persistence of these fish. The Yellowstone Fisheries Program strives to use best available science in addressing these threats, with a focus on direct, aggressive intervention, and welcomed assistance by visiting anglers.

Native Fish Species 
  • Arctic Grayling 
  • Westslope Cutthroat Trout 
  • Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout 
Nonnative Fish Species 
  • Brook Trout 
  • Brown Trout 
  • Lake Trout 
  • Rainbow Trout

September 27, 2009

Gus the Groundhog vs. Granny Trout

I'm a big Pennsylvania fan, but here's another example of where the Keystone State comes up a little short. The Pennsylvania Lottery has an obnoxious puppet named Gus the Groundhog shilling scratch-off lottery tickets on TV. He's been around for a few years, but I believe his exposure as of late has well exceeded its saturation point . He's on during every single commercial break 24-7. there an official hunting season for animatronic rodents?

I've got to move to Montana, where instead of a groundhog coaxing Grannies to spend their Social Security money on lotto tix, they've got Granny Trout. She's funny simply because it's essentially a mascot (in a really poor looking trout costume) harassing misbehaving anglers.

Gus the Groundhog vs. Granny Trout

Unfortunately, I can't seem to embed the video on my just click on the link below and watch a few of the commercials.

I haven't made up my mind yet if "Aquatic Nuisance" or "River Party" is my favorite..."Respect Your Rivers!"

September 25, 2009

Support A Tax on Natural Gas Drilling

Similar to many states right now, Pennsylvania's budget is not in the best of shape. However it is said that we have an "ace in the hole."
PA sits on top of a huge natural gas deposit (for some background, check out some prior posts HERE and HERE), and the subsidies the state can charge the corporations drilling to collect this gas will naturally bolster the state budget. Makes sense, right?

There was a very compelling column in the Philadelphia Inquirer today by Daniel Rubin that spoke of an unfortunate irony that is unfolding on this very subject.

The short of Mr. Rubin's article is that yes, the state will make money leasing over 660,000 acres of forest for gas drilling. But unlike 39 other states, PA has chosen not to levy a tax on gas collected from drilling. What are we missing out on by not taxing? How about an estimated $100-600 million in revenue through 2014! His closing was also very poignant:

"These woods belong to all Pennsylvanians. Seems to me that if we're not going to preserve them, we ought to make sure we get better paid."

Now let me be clear, I'm on the record as not being a big fan of this drilling at all. It uses a lot of local water to run these drilling operations and if unmonitored it will devastate waterways - trout streams included. Unfortunately since there's a lot of money to be made, it's going to continue no matter what - environment be damned.

That's why I'm also compelled to post this link to the Clean Water Action website that urges folks to contact Governor Rendell and their local Representatives to reject this budget plan. The entire statement is below, but if you click on the link there is a form that will automatically email the appropriate legislators on your behalf.

From the Clean Water Action Website:
Tearing up 100,000 acres of forest is no kind of budget solution! Support a tax on natural gas drilling!

In the budget deal agreed upon by Senate Leaders and the Governor last Friday, the state is mandated to lease approximately 100,000 acres of our most pristine forests for natural gas exploration.

Make no mistake, natural gas exploration will wreck these areas for hiking, fishing, hunting and the other outdoor activities. Drilling operations will clearcut wide swaths through the forest and huge well pads, and they won't replace the trees when they are done.

They are doing this because we are in a budget crisis and the state desperately needs revenue, but there's a much less destructive solution: levy a small tax on drilling rigs already underway and planned on private land. There's no way a small tax would stop or even hinder these developments, but it would protect our state's wildlands for generations of tourists.

With such a tax, we could also provide additional funds to the Department of Environmental Protection to make sure they have the manpower to oversee natural gas drilling. Last week, all the aquatic life in Dunkard Creek in Western, Pennsylvania was killed in what seems to have been multiple incidents of illegal dumping of wastewater from drilling operations. They got away with it because no one was watching.

Take action today. Send an e-mail to the Governor and your State Representatives and tell them to reject this budget deal. Tell them to support a budget that maintains the protection for Pennsylvanians.

September 22, 2009

National Hunting & Fishing Day

September 26th (this weekend) is National Hunting & Fishing Day. First proclaimed in 1972 by Richard Nixon, NH&FD is celebrated the fourth Saturday of every September as a grassroots effort to promote outdoor sports and conservation.

Interestingly, I grew up in Upper Darby, PA, and never even knew about its ties to this observance.
In the 1960s, hunters and anglers embraced the era's heightened environmental awareness but were discouraged that many people didn't understand the crucial role that sportsmen had played-and continue to play-in the conservation movement.

The first to suggest an official day of thanks to sportsmen was Ira Joffe, owner of Joffe's Gun Shop in Upper Darby, Pa. In 1970, Pennsylvania Gov. Raymond Shafer adopted Joffe's idea and created "Outdoor Sportsman's Day" in the state.


With that being said, here's the official White House proclamation for 2009.


Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release Sept
ember 22, 2009

- - - - - - -


From atop Pikes Peak to the shores of the James River, Americans celebrate the great abundance and utility of our natural resources. Since our Nation's founding, hunters and anglers have cherished these unparalleled natural gifts and marveled at their untamed beauty. National Hunting and Fishing Day recognizes the contributions of millions of Americans who continue to engage in these ageless pursuits.

Following in the centuries-old footsteps of the pioneers who walked before them, hunters and anglers have played a key role in the conservation and restoration of numerous species and their natural habitats. They not only understand their pivotal role as stewards of the land, but also seek to pass on this honored tradition to future generations.

As our citizens continue to enjoy our Nation's natural resources, we must remember that this privilege brings great responsibility. Not long ago, hunting threatened the extinction of the American Bison, an enduring symbol of the American West. Today, their population has recovered because of the cooperative efforts of conservationists and hunters. Many species, however, still require our protection. We can no longer look to our wilderness, as some once did, as land full of unlimited bounty and surplus. Recognizing the need for conservation, our hunters and anglers have worked hard to manage local ecosystems where wildlife remain, as well as to protect those areas where they are slowly re-establishing viable populations.

Our national character, always evolving, finds its foundation in those timeless American ideals of freedom, fairness, and self-sustainability. Today's hunters and anglers bring this spirit to life in the forests and streams they visit. If not for America's great hunters and anglers, like President Theodore Roosevelt and Aldo Leopold, our Nation would not enjoy sound game management; a system of ethical, science-based game laws; and an extensive public lands estate on which to pursue the sports. On National Hunting and Fishing Day, we celebrate their contributions to our natural environment and our national heritage.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 26, 2009, as National Hunting and Fishing Day. I call upon the people of the United States to recognize this day with appropriate programs and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.


September 20, 2009

Didn't Go Fishing this Weekend...

...but K.C. & I took our daughter Lilly and her friend to Dutch Wonderland. (Think Six Flags for little kids).

That being said, the day was not without some digital "fishing." We took the kids over to feed the ducks, but the carp seemed to get the better of the food.

This is a pretty cool pic, we were on a log boat ride and I saw a real (as in non-animatronic) snake swimming across the water surface. K.C. tried to take a pic of the snake, but got this little fish jumping out of the water (suppose it's fleeing the snake) by "accident."

September 14, 2009

Thoughts On Video

One of the reasons why I love fishing is that it allows me escape from the stresses of the daily grind. There's nothing like a slightly crisp morning, the sound of the stream through the riffles, and of course the squeal of the drag as a trout takes your lure. I relish that solitude, thus I usually fish by myself.

I'm also not one to keep my catch. I'm not against catch & keep by any means, it's just not what I do.

Taking photos of some of my catches for posterity's sake has also been a nice way to hold on to some of those memories. I really enjoy looking back at a previous outing's pictures and reliving some of those moments. My standard picture usually looks like this, a hand holding a fish before release. To be honest I don't mind that I'm not in the pictures (my presence would likely ruin them anyway).

Now, the natural progression from photos is video - which is leaving me a bit puzzled. I already own what I guess you'd call a "point-and-shoot" video camera - my Kodak Zi6 even shoots in 720p HD. There are functions on my normal cameras to capture video as well. But how can I effectively utilize them by myself on the water? A tripod seems a bit of a stretch. I could certainly take video after I bring the fish to hand, but that's essentially the same as a still photo.

The best solution I could find so far is something called a Hatcam...which is basically a ball cap with a camera mount on the brim. Probably functional, but at the same time, kinda odd - and I wonder what that would feel like on your noggin? Here's a video from their website of the product in action:

So in summation, I guess the question I have is - any good ideas for capturing solo fishing video?

September 11, 2009

Free Fish Counter

The Fish Counter

Want one? I've got 2 (courtesy of "Skiball" from the PA Anglers website).

I use my Fish Counter every time I hit the water and it has definitely proven its worth. It easily clips on to your fishing vest or belt loop with a carabiner and works like an abacus to count your catch. Just slide a bead for each fish caught, once you reach 10, slide one of the top beads as a placeholder and start over again at the bottom. If that didn't make perfect sense, don't worry it comes with instructions!

I'll send one each to the first 2 folks that leave their email address in the comments section for this post. Why? Karma. Just make sure you pay it forward.

Please don't provide your shipping information in the comments section, I'll email you for that info.

feel free to stop by the PA Anglers website too and check out and/or join the forum, there's some good folks over there that like to talk fishing.

September 10, 2009

Bring me Solo and the Wookiee!

The Jabba The Hutt of brownies was evidently caught in Michigan on Wednesday. A 41-pound, 7-ounce brown trout to be exact. If everything is on the up and up, this would not only break the Michigan state record, but the IGFA World Record as well. That's a BIG fish.

Tom Healy holds the 41-pound, 7-ounce, 43.75-inch-long brown trout he caught while fishing for salmon on the Manistee River on Wednesday. It awaits verification by world record keepers as the largest ever caught.

Rockford angler Tom Healy hooks 41-pound brown trout that shatters state record
by Aaron Ogg | The Grand Rapids Press
Thursday September 10, 2009, 1:50 AM

ROCKFORD -- Tom Healy floated along the Manistee River in Manistee County on Wednesday morning hoping to hook a few salmon, but the longtime fisherman's fate was much weightier.

The 66-year-old Rockford man wrangled with a 41-pound, 7-ounce, 43.75-inch-long brown trout for 15 minutes before hauling it into his boat. The fish breaks the species' state record and awaits verification by world record keepers as the largest ever caught.

"When we hooked it, we knew it was a big fish," Healy said. "How big, we didn't realize."

Officials with the state Department of Natural Resources' fisheries division Wednesday checked out the monstrous grab and said it meets all guidelines as Michigan's new champion.

"This is one of the most amazing fish I've seen in my life," said Todd Kalish, fisheries supervisor for the Central Lake Michigan unit, "a real testament of the world class fishery Michigan provides.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing for someone like that."

Healy, 15-year fishing buddy and East Grand Rapids resident Bob Woodhouse and guide Tim Roller of Cadillac-based Ultimate Outfitters caught some salmon before hooking the big one near the Bear Creek access point.

Healy said the fish tried to jump a couple times, but he was able to wrestle it in open water with his Rapala Shad Rap lure and Cabela's rod and reel.

"The reality of it is, I was pretty doggone lucky," Healy said.

"It's just one of those things."

The previous brown trout state record of 36 pounds, 13 ounces was set in 2007 by Casey Richey near Frankfort Harbor.

The current world record is held by Howard Collins, who caught a 40-pound, 4-ounce brown trout in the Little Red River in Arkansas in 1992, according to the Florida-based International Game Fish Association and the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame & Museum in Hayward, Wis.

Healy said he plans to contact the IGFA to try to claim the record.

Read the rest of the Grand Rapids Press article here:

September 7, 2009

Tried Valley Creek today...

...and struck out. Folks weren't kidding when they said the trout in Valley were ultra-spooky due to the amount of pressure they get.

The creek runs through Valley Forge National Park and is one of the few coldwater spring creeks that holds a year-round population of wild trout in the Philadelphia area, thus is also a prime destination for anglers. In retrospect, the last day of a long weekend was probably not the best time to visit.

It was my first time fishing Valley - I've walked the banks before just to get an idea of where the fish might like to hide - but never got a line wet until today. There were what seemed to be some really nice fish holding in some of the pools, they just really weren't very active. Passed another fly-fisherman and he wasn't having any better luck.

One thing I was struck by was the beauty of Valley Creek and it's surroundings. I did snap a few pictures along the way.

September 6, 2009

Random Picture

Cleaning out one of my digital cameras today and found this picture I took in July but never posted.

September 5, 2009

Now Leading Off for your 2030 Philadelphia Phillies...

Look at this natural effortless swing. She's got "doubles hitter" written all over her. I couldn't be prouder.

Roy Hobbs' got nothing on Lilly

September 4, 2009

Free Tru-Turn Hooks

Lose a lot of hooks? I actually lose my fair share getting caught up in the rocks going after smallies. Well, I found this deal celebrate their 50th anniversary, Tru-Turn is giving away hooks!

All you need to do is buy (up to 5) packs of Tru-Turn hooks, fill out a rebate form and send in your UPCs and sales receipt, and they'll send you back an equal amount of hooks back for free - that's a $10 value. Honestly, that's a pretty good way to stock up. And don't worry, you've got some time, the offer doesn't expire until 6/30/2011.

Here's the link to the rebate form:

September 1, 2009

Turtle Beatdown

In an epic battle of underwater pugilism - who wins, a turtle or fish? You'd bet at least a c-note on the turtle, right...
Well this turtle forgot to eat his spinach or something and gets his shell repeatedly whooped by two African Cichlids.

Just one more question - what's the deal with the cheezy voice over guy? NatGeo, you're better than that.