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Dead Water

While I'm a fairly dedicated winter angler the past few weeks made it difficult to get excited about hitting the water. The thermometer has stuck close to the single digits lately and I don't recall the last time it was above freezing. Most rivers and streams are locked solid and even the tailwaters are struggling to run free. If I wanted this sort of weather I'd live up in some mountain valley in Colorado. Sitting in western Connecticut it shouldn't feel like the Rockies but it does. Except without the mountains and the legal pot.

Confluence of the Yellowstone and Lamar Rivers
Confluence of the Yellowstone and Lamar Rivers (photo: Chad Shmukler).

While I consider my glass half empty situation I scan the news sites which, given my mood, only serves to destroy hope. From West Virginia to Montana industry seems hidebound to poison our waters. Another oil pipeline has burst, this one full of Canadian oil, fouling the Yellowstone River and drinking water in a season that foils clean-up efforts. Bakken oil filled tanker cars have finished exploding but not burning along the banks of the befouled Kanawha River. It seems there's no reliably safe way to transport the stuff.

The Greenbacks: Changing the World of Conservation

Five years ago, a small group of conservation-minded anglers sat down to discuss strategies for how to excite a new generation of young, passionate anglers. The plan of our small group -- eventually known as the Greenbacks -- was simple: change how conservation is viewed by a younger audience and make it engaging by thinking outside the box.

As Nick Hoover, one of the core members of our group noted, “After being involved with my local Trout Unlimited chapter for awhile, I realized the traditional chapter model might not be working for the majority of my peers. I thought it would be fun to find a committed core of young anglers like me who were having a hard time plugging into TU and together introduce some fun back into conservation."

Our first idea was to host a gallery event, later dubbed 'Surface Film', showcasing of some of the best fly-fishing photography from around the country. “We’re fortunate to know some very talented photographers that are willing to offer their images for the greater good”, said Tim Romano, also a member of the group and well-known professional photographer. Images were gathered, printed, and then framed by Anthology Fine Art in Denver. “It was a huge task to undertake, but it was something we felt strongly about, so we were all in,” noted Anthology Fine Art's owner, and Greenback, Zach Custer.

Yield to thy friends, not temptation

We recently published a quick tip from friend, former guide and all around wildly skilled angler Todd Tanner. Todd's tip urged more experienced anglers to yield the best water to friends that are less experienced anglers, noting "You won’t catch more fish, but you’ll end up having a better time and cementing your friendships." Initially, I took Todd's tip to be a matter of simple common courtesy, one that I assumed all good and moral fly fishers such as myself follow without deviation. Given some more thought, I remembered not only many times when I had faithfully followed this credo, but many when I hadn't -- and how that choice affects us as anglers.

Montana Cuttthroat
New anglers that catch fish are happy anglers (photo: Chad Shmukler).

My guess is that most anglers will share similar memories -- those of times we've passed on fishing our favorite honey hole, instead setting up a beginner angling friend and instructing him or her on just the right way to ply its waters, or of times we passed up pods of steadily rising fish, yielding them to a friend that sees such opportunities less often than those of us who get to fish more often. And, as Todd notes, those choices almost always pan out for the best.

Orvis and CEO Perk Perkins on Investing in the Great Outdoors

We spend a lot of time beating the drums of conservation, talking about the need to prioritize the preservation of clean water and healthy landscapes. We do it because we believe the message is simple: conserving our rivers, forest, streams and so on is good business. Not just in the sense that it allow us to pass down our hunting and fishing heritage to the next generations, but that it is literally good business; for those of us in the outdoors industries, the health of our businesses rely on the health of our lands and waters. Orvis, driven by its CEO Perk Perkins, is one of the companies that seems to understand these concepts particularly well.

Orvis 1,000 Miles Campaign
From a short video on the Orvis/TU 1,000 Miles Campaign, which is working to reconnect streams across the U.S. creating miles of spawning habitat and fishable water.

Anglers have grown accustomed to seeing Orvis' name attached to countless important conservation efforts that are tied directly to preserving, protecting and improving our fisheries. Whether that is through their support and partnerships with the Save Bristol Bay campaign and other Trout Unlimited efforts, American Rivers, the Wild Steelhead Coalition, the Atlantic Salmon Federation, the Deschutes River Alliance or The Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, Orvis's commitment to fisheries conservation is well demonstrated widespread.

Welding your own loops in sink tips and fly lines

For years, we've been building our own loops into sink tips via whipped loops, allowing us to hit trout and steelhead streams with sink tips of many different weights and lengths. Typically, we use different colored thread to help distinguish tips of different weights. The loops are relatively easy to build and when reinforced with UV knot sense are actually quite strong. While these loops have generally worked well, they often don't turn out as nice and neat as we'd like, and the thread wraps take a beating over time and have failed on us on more than one occasion. The alternative to whipped loops is welded loops which, while many anglers think can only be created by the manufacturer at the factory, can actually be made very easily at home.

Welding Sink Tips

A new video by RIO highlights the process and, with RIO's recent addition of colored (by weight) InTouch Level T sink tip material, has us a bit giddy about the idea of revamping our sink tip arsenal with vast array of color-coded tips in varying lengths with neat, manufacturer-quality welded loops.