The Claghorn Bridge on Blacklick Creek, upstream of Hesbon (photo: Blacklick Creek Watershed Association).

A study published yesterday in the journal Environmental Science and Technology revealed disturbing new information about troubled Blacklick Creek in western Pennsylvania. The study, which sought to investigate the effects of the disposal of fracking wastewater by water treatment facilities into Pennsylvania's waterways, found vastly increased concentrations of naturally occurring radioactive materials in stream sediments near wastewater disposal sites. Concentrations of radium, a naturally occurring isotope that is 3 million times more radioactive than uranium, in these stream sediments were found to be around 200 times higher than both normal background levels of other area sediments including tested sediments from upstream locations.

Blacklick Creek, which is situated about an hour's drive from both the city of Pittsburgh and some of Pennsylvania's most storied trout waters, has a somewhat lengthy history of water quality issues thanks to acid mine drainage. After almost two decades of stream improvements efforts, however, the stream had begun to exhibit signs of life. A 2011 survey by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission found encouraging signs of fish beginning to return to the creek, with small specimens of eight different warm water species of fish discovered in the creek.

The new RIO Skagit Max.

RIO announced yesterday three additions to its lineup for the Skagit segment of the spey world. Included is an all new floating head, which RIO is calling the Skagit Max. The Skagit Max will be available in both standard and short versions, with the short version intended for use with shorter (sub 13') spey rods and switch rods. Joining the two new Skagit Max lines is another new head called the iShort, which -- while not dubbed the iFlight Short -- is presumably a version of RIO's existing iFlight intermediate Skagit head intended for use with shorter spey and switch rods.

RIO is highlighting its ConnectCore technology as the driving force behind the new lines. In their press release, RIO notes that their "unique ConnectCore results in a fly line with only about six percent stretch as opposed to the standard 28-32 percent stretch. This ultra-low stretch makes a line much more dynamic to spey cast with helping anglers gain distance through more instinctive timing and better loading. It also enhances sensitivity to detect subtle takes, avoid snags when fishing deep and allows for fast, efficient hook sets."

One of millions, this sockeye makes its way up a small creek in the Bristol Bay region.

If there's one thing citizens of modern America have learned to only partially take to heart, it is rhetoric from elected and appointed officials. But, if opponents of Pebble Mine can take EPA head Gina McCarthy's most recent words about Bristol Bay to heart, they may soon have something to celebrate.

McCarthy spoke at Trout Unlimited's annual membership meeting today, where she made some significant statements regarding Bristol Bay and Pebble Mine. McCarthy stated, "I know and you know that [Bristol Bay] is the premiere--in the world--sockeye salmon fishery and we are going to make sure that that is not impacted by any development in that area. That's what we have to do. That's our job."

A home that Bristol Bay's salmon find their way to from across the ocean.

Pat Clayton, an incredibly talented photographer who specializes in capturing underwater pictures of fish in their natural environments, spent his summer chasing trout, char and salmon, trying not to get eaten by a bear, and in general exploring the splendor of one of the world's last great wildernesses in Bristol Bay, Alaska. We spend a lot of time writing about and featuring photos from Bristol Bay. That's partially because it is a preposterously fishy and breathtakingly beautiful place that begs to be talked about, but also because it remains under threat by those that seek to put the short-term benefits of copper and gold mining above the wholly renewable, still abundant, economy and culture driving resource that is Bristol Bay's wild salmon.

According to Pat, his mission in heading to Bristol Bay this summer, was to "share [Bristol Bay] by photographing the watershed, landscape, and fish, and to capture compelling images of what we are fighting to save." And, if the early glimpses of what Pat has produced are any indication, he's accomplished just that. Later this year we'll be sharing a lengthy collection of Pat's work in Alaska. For now, here's a teaser of what's to come.

Mark Harbaugh introduces Patagonia's new Spring River wader.

We've been spending a lot of time talking about women's waders lately. A big part of why is that we're in the middle of our summer and autumn review series that focuses specifically on women's waders. But another reason why we've been spending so much time talking about women's waders, is that women are becoming an increasingly important part of the sport. Women are one of the fastest growing demographics in the world of fly fishing and the companies that fuel the industry have noticed.

As we began preparing for our review series, we explored the market for waders designed specifically for women and found one manufacturer conspicuously absent from the list of offerings: Patagonia. Well, no more. Patagonia recently announced it would be offering waders designed specifically with women in mind. As Patagonia's Mark Harbaugh put it in an interview with Midcurrent, their new women's waders -- termed the Spring River Wader -- were designed from ground up "by women, for women."