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

Celebrating the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture

One of the more enjoyable aspects of more than 30 years in the lobbying business is the chance to look back on the projects you took on, not because you were going to make a pile of money from it, but because deep down in your heart and soul you knew that it was important.

What became the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture is the one I am most proud to have been part of. It started, back more than 12 years ago, when a small group of us got together to sketch out a plan to protect, restore and enhance brook trout and their habitats across their historic native range.

Recently I had the honor to be invited to speak at the opening of  the 10th Anniversary EBTJV partners meeting. I told them how the EBTJV came to get started and that the EBTJV was a success because of the courage, and in some cases arrogance, of the original steering committee. I have likened the EBTJV to the Rolling Stones (a tribute to the time Mick Jagger was confronted while relieving himself on the side of a gas station and said “We are the Rolling Stones, we piss anywhere.”) At the time, the National Fish Habitat Initiative, later known as the National Fish Habitat Partnership was just getting started. While the NFHI was a good idea, we were concerned that “process” might get in the way of progress. The folks managing the Action Plan wanted to build a program first. We wanted to put our time, money and energy into “on the ground” projects. And that was what we planned to do.

The steering committee shared an incredible, lifelong, visceral passion for the brook trout, did not feel compelled to color inside the lines and were willing to put regional and state boundaries behind them for the greater good of the brookie. We channeled that passion and went directly to the fish and game departments in the 17 states that encompassed the Eastern Brook Trout’s native range. We got buy-in to our ideas for the joint venture and, at a meeting a year later, the EBTJV became a reality.

At the time, the original co-conspirators could not have imagined how successful they would be. In the last 10 years the accomplishments are truly impressive.

2004-2014 EBTJV Infographic Final_11x17


The highlight of the meeting for me was receiving a gorgeous rendering of a brook trout, by the renowned artist James Prosek, in recognition of my “dedication to the EBTJV and its cause.”

This beautiful signed print now graces our living room and is a treasured gift from my friends at the EBTJV. I’ve nicknamed the brookie “Mick.”

10th Anniversary Meeting_Tom's Print

Nat Gillespie (L), “Mick”, me, Doug Besler (R) Photo credit Callie McMunigal

If you care about these iconic fish and what to learn more or even better lend a hand, then follow this link to the EBTJV website.

Rick Bach, Tenkara and the EBTJV

When I got a note from Rick Bach asking about trout fishing in Maryland I wrote back saying I was not much on Maryland but would be happy to take him to the mountains in Virginia to fish for brook trout with a tenkara rod. Rick being an adventurous young man, after all he is fishing his way across the country and blogging about it for OutdoorLife.com this summer, took me up on it. We had a ball, Rick picked up tenkara style fishing right away. He moved through the casting and fishing options with ease going to a two fly rig and sling shot cast and landing a nice fat brookie in a tricky spot at the end of the day.

You can see his gallery and commentary from his adventures in DC, the Chesapeake Bay and the Rapidan. I really appreciate Rick giving a shout out to the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture!

Photos from our trip on the Rapidan start at number 15

The National Fish Habitat Conservation Act

The National Fish Habitat Conservation Act, H.R. 2565 was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on May 21, by Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI).

The National Fish Habitat Partnerships are one step closer to congressional authorization. The legislation provides $75 million annually for fish habitat projects. The funding will help existing partnerships like the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture and the Western Native Trout Initiative do more on the ground projects. Future fish habitat partnerships will also be able to tap into these funds as well.

A companion bill is expected to be introduced in the Senate in early June.