Author Zane Grey fishing the Delaware River, circa 1910. Photo: National Park Service.

Anti-fracking advocacy groups are citing yesterday's announcement by the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) as a victory for the Delaware River. The DRBC announcement indicated that a key vote on gas drilling regulations will be delayed, with no future date set for a vote. The regulations blueprint which was supposed to be voted on come Monday, November 21, would have opened up eastern portions of Pennsylvania which lie within the Delaware River basin to gas drilling operations.

The decision to delay the vote came in the wake of Delaware Governor Jack Markell's announcement that he would vote no on the proposed regulations. New York had previously announced its intention to vote no. Markell's annoucnement, however, did not preclude the possibility of the new regulations being approved. The DRBC is a five member commission that includes New York, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the Army Corps of Engineers. Pennsylvania's Governor Tom Corbett is a strong proponent of gas drilling and it is commonly believed, though not known, that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie would also have voted yes. This would have left the vote in the hands of the fifth member, the Army Corps of Engineers.

A Yellowstone Cuttroat Trout. Photo: National Park Service

In an annual report issued yesterday, entitled Yellowstone National Park Natural Resource Vital Signs, the National Park Service detailed the current progress of efforts to reduce the population of non-native fish species within the park. These efforts are specifically geared towards reducing competition with the park's native fish species, Westslope Cutthroat Trout and Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout, hopefully allowing the populations of these species native to the park's ecosystem to expand. According to the report, current efforts to remove non-native species of fish within the park are proving ineffective. In fact, populations of some non-native species have even increased, despite efforts to the contrary.

The situation concerning Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout (YCT) in Yellowstone Lake continues to be a struggle. In fact, the number of YCT caught per mile during sampling efforts reached an all-time low of 5.3 in 2010, after peaking at nearly 20 YCT per mile in the early 1980s. Managers attribute this continued decline to predation by nonnative lake trout, whirling disease and the effects of low water conditions in recent drought years. Unfortunately, despite the removal of over 550,000 nonnative lake trout during the last decade and a half, perceived populations of lake trout continue to rise.

Serenity now.

While fishing the steelhead-laden horror show that is New York's Salmon River one weekend, I was introduced to a very simple but truly spectacular little fishing accessory by guide and friend Walt Geryk, and I've been positively giddy about it ever since. If you're a Maxima user, you either know about these little gadgets (or a similar equivalent), have fashioned your own solution, or—like me—have chronic high blood pressure resulting from years of struggle with spools of Maxima.

ASMFC Votes in Menhaden Protection

Years of efforts by conservation groups such as Menhaden Defenders and the Pew Environment Group paid off late last week when the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) voted in the first ever protection measures for the tiny forage fish Atlantic Menhaden, commonly known as bunker. Bunker play a vital role in the marine ecosystem off the eastern coast of the United States, and advocates have warned for a long time that the reduction of their population could have catastrophic impacts on the entire food chain. In the days leading up to last Friday's historic vote, a myriad of advocacy groups and individual citizens delivered over 90,000 comments to the ASMFC in favor of placing protections on the number of menhaden that can be harvested from Atlantic waters. Their efforts paid dividends, as the ASMFC voted in protections that are expected to reduce the overall catch of bunker by 37%.

Specifically, the commission voted to set a harvest target of 30% of MSP (maximum spawning potential) as based on an unfished stock of menhaden. This new limit is to be achieved by 2013. The commission also voted to increase the overfishing threshold from 8% of MSP to 15%. This means that if the population of bunker falls below 15%, the population is considered overfished.

Airflo Striper Sink 7 (left) spooled on an Allen XL reel.

November is striper time in New Jersey. Schools of striped bass that have remained in waters farther north finally return to the waters of coastal New Jersey, to be greeted by many a waiting angler. Once November rolls around, I try to get down to the beach as often as I can. Given that the steelhead rivers of the Great Lakes are at least four to five times a farther drive for me, these returning stripers are the best show in town. For the last couple of years, I've been making due with a mutli-tip line system that ventures to be, and accomplishes doing so fairly well, a line system that can fit any purpose. Even though this multi-purpose line hasn't been a thorn in my side, it also isn't ideal and I've known for some time that I wanted to start fishing lines specifically tailored for the task at hand. The reasons are obvious, so I won't go into them here.

Most often, when fishing for stripers, I'll fish an intermediate line. Something that sinks at around 1-3 inches per second. However, in New Jersey and elsewhere, a good deal of my fishing is done from jetties. When fishing from the jetty or in particularly rough surf, I'll often prefer to use a full sink line. On a few recent, premature trips to the beach in search of stripers that hadn't yet shown up, I had the chance to test out Airflo's Sniper Sink 7. This is one of Airflo's fastest sinking cold saltwater lines. Unlike the Ridged Striper series of lines in Airflo's cold saltwater lineup, this line is un-ridged. If you're unfamiliar with Airflo's ridge system, it is a unique style of fly line coating that allows for tremendous shootability.