Middle River Dispatches is a gumbo of posts about fly-fishing, conservation, politics and days afield.

Microfiber Pollution

As I find other interesting articles and videos on this subject I will put links at the bottom of this post.

As a part-time fishing guide, water is an essential element of my life. What happens to and in the water has a direct impact on the quality of the experience for my clients. As a board member of the American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA), I have a keen interest in how the industry looks at and addresses water issues, whether they are access or quality. As the deputy director of the Marine Fish Conservation Network where my focus is on marine issues, so I am tuned into the challenges we face with our oceans.

One subject that gets my attention in all three areas of my professional life is the issue of plastic pollution. The shop I guide for, Mossy Creek Fly Fishing, found an innovative solution to the use of disposable plastic containers for fishing flies. AFFTA quickly embraced this solution and now promotes it as an industry best practice. Packaging is the biggest part of the plastic pollution problem but not the only one. It was the small stuff that recently caught my attention.

One company that is at the forefront of environmental issues is Patagonia. They have been educating people about plastic pollution in our oceans for years. In June 2016, they turned their attention to microplastics in the waste stream. According to the post, What Do We Know About Tiny Plastic Fibers in the Ocean? in Patagonia’s Footprint Chronicles, the microfibers in synthetic clothes like fleece are shed during washing and are not captured by filter systems in treatment plants. The microfibers wind up in the ocean, on beaches, and in rivers and lakes. According to Patagonia:

“We know a single synthetic garment can shed thousands of synthetic microfibers in a single wash. We also know synthetic microfibers, as opposed to microplastic beads, have an irregular shape that can pose a threat to smaller organisms—and may enter the food chain and work their way up to humans. We also know we sell a lot of fleece; what we produce, combined with all the polyester and nylon products made and sold by other outdoor and apparel brands (and other industries), may constitute a significant problem.”

While knowing there is a problem is a key first step, the important question is what each of us can do about it. Somedays the challenges we face seem daunting especially when seen through the twin lens of policy and politics. Daunting they may be, but there are things we as individuals can do to make a difference.

Last month in a follow-up post, An Update on Microfiber Pollution, Patagonia
shared what they have learned and where they are headed. “Over the past two years, the shedding of microfibers from Patagonia’s synthetic garments has taken on heightened urgency in how we consider our priorities moving forward. We’ve been working on several fronts…”

Here are the steps Patagonia suggests individuals can take.

  • Keep Using It: Keeping our gear in use longer is something we can all do to reduce our personal impact on the planet. Buy only what you need, buy high quality and make it last. In Patagonia’s recent study with researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, a low-quality, generic-brand fleece shed significantly more over its life span than Patagonia’s high-quality products (brenmicroplastics.weebly.com).
  • Wash Less Often & Invest in a Front-load Washer: Microfibers shed in the wash—so wash your gear only when it’s absolutely necessary (you’ll conserve water in the process). Even your most-used outerwear should only need a full wash occasionally. If it’s caked with dirt (and we hope it will be), consider using a rag or sponge to spot clean rather than putting it through a machine cycle. And consider your washing machine: Studies show synthetic jackets laundered in top-load washing machines shed more than five times as many microfibers as the same jacket in front-load washers.
  • Fiber Filters Help: Putting your synthetic clothing into a filter bag before washing by hand or machine can significantly reduce the flow of microfibers into your drain. Starting in the coming weeks, you can buy (at cost) the easy-to-use Guppy Friend (guppyfriend.com) at Patagonia.com throughout the United States and Europe. Or install a permanent washing machine filter (requires some plumbing expertise), like Wexco’s Filtrol 160 (septicsafe.com/washing-machine-filter).

I admire the leadership Patagonia shows with their corporate ethic and willingness to recognize the impacts their products have, do the research on that impact and look for solutions not only in their manufacturing process but providing ways the end users can mitigate that impact. The least we can do as consumers is educate ourselves and act responsibly. The oceans and their inhabitants will thank us.

Author’s note: this post originally appeared in On the Waterfront the Marine Fish Conservation Network‘s blog.

Articles of interest:

CBS News: How microfibers in clothes are polluting our oceans

BBC: Video captures moment plastic enters food chain

We can clean the ocean: Rachael Miller at TEDxLowell


Midwinter Board Update

From OWAA Newsowaa-active-member

In January, when the Board met for the annual midwinter board meeting, I presented a report on the financial and operational status of the organization. Like previous reports, it focused primarily on the financial and membership aspects of OWAA operations. It is my pleasure to share that with you as well.

Even though 2014 saw some cash flow challenges, we are able to present a balanced budget for 2015. The key to our financial security continues to rest on the revenue side of our operations. We can’t “cut” our way to financial security; we need to “grow” our way there. As you will see below, we are making good progress.

Membership is up 10 percent as of December 2014 compared to May 2014 and Supporting Group affiliations are up 18 percent

Since the last board meeting the team at headquarters has been busy on a number of fronts, and here are some highlights of our efforts.

While the presentations were excellent, the attendance at Conference in McAllen, Texas, was a disappointment. There was a big lesson learned: No more conferences close to holidays.

When the U.S. Forest Service initiated a rulemaking on filming and commercial photography in wilderness areas we responded with press statements, columns in Outdoors Unlimited and blog posts. President Mark Freeman and I had telephone conversations and meetings with Forest Service leadership. We submitted written comments for the record. OWAA’ s efforts were acknowledged in USFS Chief Tidwell’s letter to the field clarifying the policy.

In order to help increase awareness of OWAA we sponsored the Press Room at the American Fly Fishing Trade Association’s International Fly Tackle Dealer show which is co-located with the American Sportfishing Association’s International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades show.

I joined the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association (SEOPA) and had the pleasure of attending their 50th anniversary conference. It was a great opportunity to visit with past and present OWAA notables. Board member Tim Mead very graciously made my “green ribbon” experience quite enjoyable. Thank you,Tim.

We added the Ocean Conservancy as a new EIC Fishing Category Co-Sponsor thanks to the good works of Brandon Shuler.

Working with the Strategic Planning committee we implemented a revised Strategic Plan -See Strategic Plan 2014 Update 2.

Finally, as we move into 2015 we will be focusing on having a successful conference in Knoxville, Tennessee, and looking at ways to improve member and supporter communications.

As always, your comments and suggestions are most welcome. Call me directly at 406-552-4049 or email me.

Water is my business

As a fly fishing guide,  a member of the board of directors of the America Fly Fishing Trade Association and president of the Massanutten Chapter of Trout Unlimited, I spend a lot of time thinking about water. The fact is, I make part of my living in water and without it much of what I hold dear would be lost.

Lately I have found myself drawn back into conversations about clean water and the need to protect it. EPA has a rule making underway and there are some who would like to undermine that effort. In looking around the inter webs recently, I came across an excellent report from Trout Unlimited. Rising to the Challenge shows just how important small, seasonal and headwater streams are and why they need to be protected.

TU shares a pretty simple equation (not unlike one you see often on this blog) and points out three things that make a healthy stream.

  • Cold, clean water
  • Habitat for juvenile fish to hide, and for big fish to grown and spawn
  • Sensible rules that protect streams from development

Pretty simple Venn diagram if you ask me.

The report shows “the connection between seasonal streams that may run dry at certain times of the year (i.e., “intermittent and ephemeral” streams) and historic trout and salmon habitat.”

There are maps for 14 states, including Virginia below:



Download the report and learn how you can make water your business too.

If you want to learn more about EPA’s rule making here is a link > http://www2.epa.gov/uswaters

Here is some information from the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership > http://www.trcp.org/issues/wetlands/cleanwateract#.VDHMnr51qaF



STFU it’s just fly fishing…

Now and again the tenkara world gets it’s knickers in a twist about what is and is not tenkara and then the fly fishing community chimes in about tenkara in general and everyone gets butt hurt and sulks.

Well, one of my favorite commentators on current events is the very talented Erika Napoletano, a featured speaker at the upcoming AFFTA Dealer Summit.

She recently graced the pages of the ever entertaining Moldy Chum in  So you’re bitching about Tenkara. Worth watching, listen and learn but be warned, she is NSFW!

UPDATE: The Moldy Chum link is 404, but you can hear Erika’s awesome wisdom on her blog at For Everyone Bitching About Mike Jeffries of Abercrombie and Fitch

Rx for Vegas

“Ooh, Las Vegas ain’t no place for a poor boy like me. Every time I hit your crystal city, you know you gonna make a wreck out of me.” – Gram Parsons

When I got the first text from Delta telling me that my flight home from Vegas Thursday was delayed I just knew my travel plans had started to circle the drain. I changed my flights to try and make it home, but a mechanical issue on the flight did me in. I will give Delta customer service credit they could’t have been nicer and more helpful, thanks to Kim Bailey on the phone and Georgie at the LAS check-in counter.

I was in Vegas for the AFFTA board meeting and the ICAST/IFTD trade shows. Three days of smoky hotel bars and scant periods of being outside had me more than ready for a return to the Shenandoah Valley.

Over the years I have learned to roll with travel snafus. So when I texted my buddy Chris Hunt telling him I was stuck in Vegas, his reply was “Glad your back. We’ll make the best of a bad situation ;-)”

And indeed we did!

Alchemy indeed!

Alchemy indeed!

After a quick trip back to the Convention Center to get in one more round of post show parties, I wound up eating in Chef Rick Moonen’s new restaurant Rx Boiler Room, with Hunt and Scott Hed of Sportsmen’s Alliance for Alaska fame. Rx rightly claims to be the “alchemy of food and drink.”

Hunt and the Rx ladies

Hunt and Rx ladies

The food was exceptional! I enjoyed a lobster roll that would be proudly served in Newport (he knows his rolls) matched by outstanding service. Thanks Cecila!

The drinks are as special as the menu, so don’t settle for any of your standard cocktails, enjoy what the bar wizards concoct!

The decor and outfits were  created by Moonen’s talented wife Roni. Billed as Steampunk, it had this glorious pirate den feel to me.

Hed knows Moonen from their work together on the Save Bristol Bay campaign and Savor Bristol Bay. Moonen is a sustainable seafood advocate who practices what he preaches and puts his money where your mouth is.

Eating at Rx gave us a chance to say thanks to Chef Moonen for his support for protecting Bristol Bay and for being such an excellent voice for sustainable seafood.

Thanks Chef, it was a great meal!

Thanks Chef, it was a great meal!

AFFTA and ASA to Co-Locate Trade Shows

Big news in the fishing industry world today. The American Sportfishing Association and the American Fly Fishing Trade Association announced today that both trade shows will now in under one roof in Las Vegas in 2013.

As an AFFTA board member I strongly supported this decision and am very excited about the IFTD show next year. Having been directly involved in the discussions leading up to this decision I know all options were fully explored and discussed and that co-locating with ICAST was clearly the best option available to AFFTA. AFFTA’s President Ben Bulis deserves special recognition for keeping the process running smoothly.

Here is the Joint Press Release with the details:

Alexandria, VA and Westminster, CO – September 14, 2012 – Today, the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA) announced a partnership in which they would co-locate their trade shows in one venue in 2013. Both the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades, better known as ICAST, and the International Fly Tackle Dealer Show, known as IFTD, will be held July 10-12, 2013, at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nev.

Both ASA’s and AFFTA’s Boards of Directors voted unanimously to support the new partnership and co-locating ICAST and IFTD in the Las Vegas Convention Center next July.

“By joining forces with ICAST and ASA to bring IFTD to Las Vegas in 2013, we are collectively creating what will truly be the largest recreational fishing show in the world,” said AFFTA President Ben Bulis. “This is a tremendous opportunity for the fly fishing industry and AFFTA’s Board of Directors encourages all AFFTA members to take advantage of this opportunity to explore a new and innovative option to grow and improve our collective business interests.”

“ASA’s Board of Directors is pleased that AFFTA has decided to partner with ASA to create an expanded trade show venue that will have a positive impact on our entire industry,” said ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman. “By combining both shows in one venue, we can expand the business opportunities for both trade shows in terms of increasing international attendance as well as buyers and media located in the U.S. which will benefit both organizations. If an individual is on the fence about attending one show or the other or both; we’ve now eliminated that barrier.”

Both ASA and AFFTA will each manage its own trade show but will combine some functions, such as the show directory and having the same show hours, where it makes good business sense and benefits show attendees.

Bulis further said, “We feel that this is an exciting opportunity for our industry at the same time realizing that we will have issues such as future locations, dates or potential partnerships or integrations with other existing shows. All of that said, there is really no perfect answer; no solution that is going to please everyone. We do agree that we need to try something that is significantly different and we need to continue to explore new and innovative options to grow and improve our annual show event. Joining forces with ASA and ICAST while continuing to manage our own show, is a great option for fly fishing and for AFFTA.”

Jeff Marble, CEO, Frabill, Inc., and ASA’s Board of Directors chairman said, “From a business perspective, an alliance between our organizations – both of whom are dedicated to growing and expanding the sport of fishing – is something that is totally natural and something that makes great sense for both memberships.”

“What’s exciting is that IFTD is going to remain an independent, progressive trade show that is controlled and run by the fly fishing industry,” said Jim Klug, chairman, AFFTA Board of Directors and Director of Operations, Yellow Dog FlyFishing Adventures. “We will be able to continue to feature all of the elements that make IFTD great including retailer-specific forums and seminars, a large casting pond and a cohesive footprint that will keep fly fishing together in the same area. This is an opportunity to grow the show and provide a better overall experience and value to our members and show attendees.”

ICAST and IFTD 2013 Show Dates and Hours
Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas

ICAST Show Hours IFTD Show Hours
Wednesday, July 10 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Thursday, July 11 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Friday, July 12 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.


The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) is the sportfishing industry’s trade association, committed to looking out for the interests of the entire sportfishing community. We give the industry a unified voice speaking out when emerging laws and policies could significantly affect sportfishing business or sportfishing itself. We invest in long-term ventures to ensure the industry will remain strong and prosperous as well as safeguard and promote the enduring economic and conservation values of sportfishing in America. ASA also gives America’s 60 million anglers a voice in policy decisions that affect their ability to sustainably fish on our nation’s waterways through KeepAmericaFishing™ , our angler advocacy campaign. America’s anglers generate over $45 billion in retail sales with a $125 billion impact on the nation’s economy creating employment for over one million people.

The American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA) is the sole trade association for the fly fishing industry.  AFFTA’s mission is to promote the sustained growth of the fly fishing industry.  We work to grow consumer demand for fly fishing goods and services, enhance the growth and professionalism of fly fishing businesses, and provide a clear, loud voice to elected officials and government agencies for the protection, enhancement and restoration of fish and fish habitat.