Monday, December 26, 2011
Who Fishes Our Rivers - The 2011 Survey
Last Spring I began to rant against one of my biggest concerns (actually it's my biggest concern)dealing with trout stocking and that is our State's reliance on rainbow trout as the premier fish as far as numbers of fish stocked are concerned. They are dumped into every freestone river in this State in numbers far exceeding brown trout. Appox. 60% of the trout stocked in Massachusetts are rainbow trout. Browns make up about 25%. Our DFW states that rainbows grow quicker and larger and people want large fish quickly. How come Connecticut and New York have numbers that are the reverse of our stocking numbers but seem to have great fishing? Is this a problem??
The answer is YES if you want season long fishing since the bows disappear by mid July.(DFW are on record as saying just that for the Millers and the Housy) It's NOT a problem if you only fish the rivers in the Spring which is the strategy of the hardware and bait fishermen. Our State has always stated that they must cater to the majority of fishermen so they enact a policy geared to non fly fishers as if they were the majority on our rivers. It simply isn't true!!
Last Spring I asked the readers of this blog to do a head count of who they saw on the rivers that they fished. Fly Fishing Only rivers/sections were excluded, of course. Count the fly fishers and count the non fly fishers - that simple. 22 different rivers and streams were surveyed starting in late April. Who fishes our rivers?? It's fly fishers by a long shot!!
April had one week on the survey and it was a 50/50 draw. 21 fly fishers and 21 others for that one week. Then came May when the fly fishers were in the majority 55% to 45% (240 to 190). From June 1st onward it was a landslide, 90% to 10% (215 to 23).
Now granted, this is a small sample survey but so are the polls coming out of Iowa over the past year. There were a little over 700 "heads" counted. And the majority of counts were done on rivers that had just general regulations and no C&R status.
What does all of this mean? Here's the answer. When I took up fly fishing for trout in 1970 it was in the era of "Opening Day" when EVERYBODY had to get out there and fish. Rivers were crowded, worms and lures were flying through the air and stringers of trout were proudly displayed. The non fly fisher on our rivers was in the majority but the State got rid of that opening day nonsense by 1977. I believe, by doing just that, it killed the urge to fish rivers for many people and those people were not fly fishers. I see, over the last few decades, less non fly fishers on our rivers. Where are they?? Drive by any stocked lake or pond (even Jamaica Pond in BOSTON) and you will find these casual anglers. It's easier there. THEY ARE NOT ON THE RIVERS!!
If anything this survey should cast a shadow on the idea that Billy Baitbucket and Harry Hardware should be catered too when it comes to setting stocking policy for RIVERS. THEY ARE NOT THERE ANYMORE!!! That policy includes the species of trout stocked and the regulations concerning the fishing for them.
Thanks to Jack T. for a all your info!!
Happy New Year!!
Posted by Millers River Flyfisher at 3:32 PM