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More Conclusive Proof that Fracking Damages Water Supplies

The natural gas industry has long held that extracting natural gas poses no threat to surface water and groundwater, including private water supplies, while opponents of Pennsylvania's record-breaking natural gas extraction industry have long refuted these claims as false. Earlier this week, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) released to the public a list of 248 documented cases where the state found that drilling and other activities related to hydraulic fracturing had damaged water supplies, offering further concrete proof of the false nature of the industry's claims.

A native brook trout stream in Pennsylvania's natural gas country.
A native brook trout stream in Pennsylvania's natural gas country.

The Pennsylvania DEP has been widely criticized for a lack of transparency and a failure to report to the public claims and findings of water supply contamination resulting from activities of the natural gas industry. While the recent release of these documents has generally been regarded as a step in the right direction, conservation and environmental groups have called the DEP's latest action insufficient, and it is easy to see why.

Broken Dial

It's small fly time on northeast tailwaters. On the Farmington River folks are fishing the trico hatch. A well tied imitation makes a #20 fly seem like a battleship and 6x look like an anchor chain. I like a brown thread body with a tuft of dun colored CDC and a #24 hook. It's one of the rare times I fish 7x. I'd fish 8x if I had any.

Small mayfly
Photo: Julien Pouille

One of the nice things about tailwater hatches is that, despite all the variables that affect any natural process, they're pretty reliable. The hatches line up to fill the angling year. The fish seem as attuned as the anglers and I've spent many evenings fishing a single pattern. Once you're dialed in, you're set. Mostly.

Freestones, untethered to regular, temperate flows, can throw you more curves. Sure, they have the epic hatches that arrive like clockwork every year -- Hendricksons, March Browns, Alders, Cahills, White Flies, Isos -- but mixed in between and among are all manner of chaos. You can always count on some sort of caddis buzzing about, any number of small stones, midges, and BWOs. And, of course, the main events always overlap. It can make tying something on the tippet a total crapshoot.

RIO's Fly Line Selector App

As fishermen, we don't spend a lot of time talking about apps. There are, however, quite a bevy of apps out there made specifically for anglers. Unfortunately, most of them aren't particularly useful. But there are a select few that can be assets whether you're on the water, in the field, or on your couch planning next outing. RIO has recently released a fly line selector app which strives to demystify the process of selecting a fly line for a given rod or application, and it seems destined to join that smaller crowd of fishing apps -- the useful ones.

RIO Fly Line Selector App

Let's face it, while not always the case, choosing a fly line can be perplexing. And, every time it seems like the industry is starting to simplify choices on the fly line front, things take a turn for the more complicated. The process can be especially troublesome for those that don't spend their time poring over product SKUs and keeping tabs on each fly line company's new releases and R&D efforts -- in other words: most fly fishers.

Motorcycle Mike: Who Are the Real Experts?

Twenty years ago, I was a fly fishing guide on the Henry’s Fork, which, as most of you know, is one of the world’s most famous trout streams. Anglers from all over the globe visited Last Chance, Idaho in the hope of catching a few of those spectacular Henry’s Fork rainbows, and a fair number of those anglers hired guides to increase their odds of success..

Sunset at The Ranch on the Henry's Fork (photo: Todd Tanner).
Sunset at The Ranch on the Henry's Fork (photo: Todd Tanner).

Back in 1992, a fellow by the name of Motorcycle Mike was a fixture in Last Chance. If you believed his stories, Mike had at various times been a heart surgeon, a tarpon guide in the Florida Keys, and a colonel in the military. Regardless, Mike spent the spring and summer of ‘92 sweeping the floor in the A-Bar and doing odd jobs for local businesses and homeowners. During our occasional conversations it became painfully clear that Mike knew almost nothing about trout fishing on the Henry’s Fork.

Now none of this would have mattered if Mike didn’t make a habit of riding his little motorcycle to the river, finding a prominent position on the bank, and dispensing his angling wisdom to every drift boat that floated past.

Hubris: The Certainty of the Mining Industry

There's a tired old joke about discerning lying politicians by observing the mobility of their lips and there is a close parallel to mines and their assertions about the hazards of their operations.

Before a mine can begin operation in the US, owners must submit Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) to the federal government. The percentage of mines that predict low impacts to water quality in their EISs is 100%, according to a 2008 report by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. In actuality, the number that actually pollute ground and surface waters is summed up in the report by a simple phrase: "the majority".

Quesnel Lake
Quesnel Lake, pictured above, and Polley lake were flooded with over a billion gallons of toxic effluent when the Mount Polley tailings pond dam burst on August 4th (photo: Larry Griffiths).

While one could attribute evil intent to the assertions of safety made by mine owners, I think it more likely to be driven by hubris buoyed by a healthy dose of greed. Though, given more thought, that may be the definition of evil. Whatever the case, I'm sure there are a lot of folks who actually believe what they're doing is right despite startling evidence to the contrary.