The Allen Alpha III Fly Reel in aquamarine.

Building on the success and reputation of its Alpha I and Alpha II series of reels, Allen Fly Fishing has announced the availability of the third incarnation of this well liked series of reels. Allen's Alpha series is the manufacturer's flagship big game reel series, designed to serve the needs of 7 weight to 10 weight fly lines. Perhaps the most notable aspect of the Alpha reel series is its value/price ratio, which is a reputation Allen has developed for many of its product offerings.

Allen Fly Fishing Alpha II Fly Reel
The Allen Alpha III Fly Reel in aquamarine.

Though the Alpha III has received few, if any, cosmetic changes when compared to its predecessor, Allen has put a great deal of time and effort into fully re-engineering the technology behind the reel. According to Allen, "The Alpha III looks similar to its predecessor, the Alpha II, but that's where the similarities stop. The Alpha III is fully machined from only the highest quality aluminum barstock, with vastly improved tolerances over the Alpha II. Our improved anodization leaves the reel with an attractive scratch and corrosion resistant finish. The drag system has been completely redesigned, and uses a teflon cork composite disc for the smoothest, strongest, longest lasting drag you will find in its price range."

Kids in the Backcountry: Lamar River, Yellowstone National Park

Ten years ago, my wife and I often went on long backcountry hiking trips with just some quickie planning. These days with 3 1/2 year old and 16 month old boys, we do more quickie trips with long planning time. When I first started fly fishing in the backcountry areas of Yellowstone National Park and the Sawtooths of Idaho, I could basically just tell my wife the when’s, who’s, and how’s of a trip and be on my way to paradise. That freedom has turned into clearing everyone’s schedules of many different other who’s and when’s to make clearance for us (on a side-note, the second or third Saturday in September is always reserved for some action on the Lamar River in Yellowstone National Park and nothing can remove that day).

So, here we are trying to figure out how to get back into fun and fishing in the backcountry, or as close as possible to it, now that one of the kids can walk a couple of miles each way. Our quickie-trips are generally a half-day scheduled around nap time, and the extended planning effort requires diapers, multiple snacks, safety considerations, and a couple of toys if we’re feeling energetic enough to carry them. The focus of effort is generally keeping the boys happy rather than hoping the fish take some fake food, but that’s how it is as parents of toddlers.

2012 Report Summary: Washington Wild Salmon Recovery

According to a report issued last week by the station of Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, populations of wild salmon in the state's rivers are improving, albeit not across the board. The report indicates that the state of wild salmon stocks differ by water body and region, but are generally improving or remaining static. Despite the general trend, some locations and populations are on the decline, though the bulletin refers to these negative changes as "slightly declining".

The report identifies the Hood Canal's summer chum salmon and Snake River's fall chinook salmon as the areas/populations where increases have been greatest. Also included in the list of highlights are the Middle and Upper Columbia River's steelhead populations. The graphic above details positive and negative changes through the regions evaluated by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and regional salmon recovery organizations throughout the state.

Fishermen use a vacuum to transfer menhaden fish from a purse seine net to their vessel.

After the ASMFC (Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission) passed a historic vote in December, quantifying the first ever limits on the commercial harvest of Atlantic Menhaden, the battle to finally recognize the resounding importance of the tiny Menhaden may finally be coming to a positive end in Virginia, the epicenter of the debate. Virginia's fishery is responsible for 80 percent of the entire US Atlantic menhaden harvest. Currently under way in the Virginia state legislature is the process to formally adopt the measures set forth by the ASMFC.

The 2013 limits established in December by the ASMFC marked further culmination of years of effort by activists who have struggled to bring to light the plight of the unassuming menhaden, also known as bunker or pogy. In November of last year, organizers delivered a petition advocating for protection of the menhaden fishery to the ASMFC with over 90,000 signatures. In his book, "The Most Important Fish in the Sea", author H. Bruce Franklin describes the virtually important role of the menhaden to the fisheries of the Atlantic as a whole, a role in which menhaden are "they are crucial to the diet of bigger fish and they filter the waters of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, playing an essential dual role in marine ecology perhaps unmatched anywhere on the planet."

As home to the vast majority of commercial menhaden fishing and the only menhaden reduction facility on the east coast, owned by Omega Protein, the state of Virginia is most affected by the limits placed by the ASMFC. Omega Protein, who will bear the financial brunt of the commission's decision, has argued that the stock of Atlantic menhaden remains healthy, despite scientists warning that populations may be depleted as much as 88% from historic levels and indicating that menhaden stocks may be headed for a collapse. Fisherman who make their livelihoods have stated that caps on harvest limits may "put Virginia out of business".

Thomas and Thomas NS5

A little over a year and a half ago, when Thomas & Thomas announced the sale of all company assets and its manufacturing facility, the response from long time Thomas & Thomas rod owners was a bit unexpected. Typically, when brands with long histories and a loyal customer base change hands, the reaction is considerably negative. However, when word of the sale was spread by then CEO Gerry Metcalfe, the news was overwhelmingly met with cautious optimism.

The fact of the matter was that the T&T name had lost its luster in recent years due to a myriad of reasons that included slipping product quality, poor customer service and a general lack of innovation. Customers looking to purchase a premium fly rod had moved on to brands like Sage, Scott, Orvis and G. Loomis, amongst others. Thomas and Thomas was no longer on most people's must have list. The buzz was that the new owner, Florida based businessman and fisherman Mark Richens, had the zeal and determination to get the company back on track and once again seat Thomas & Thomas amongst the pinnacle of fly rod makers. As we approach 2013, the Thomas & Thomas name is well on its way to restoring its former glory, due in no short part to the T&T 'No Sanctuary' NS5.