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

Tapply was right

If you have not read any of Bill Tapply‘s work then you have missed out. Phil Monahan over at Orvis.com has started to bring back some of Bill’s articles for their website. The first, “The Truth about Fly Fishermen,” conjured up thoughts of the all too often negative comments in various forms about tenkara or even more silly, what is and is not tenkara.

“One of them damn anglers.”

Spoken as if the word angler were a disgusting waste product.

“Dry-fly snob. Thinks he’s better’n the rest of us.”

“Yeah, no kidding. I heard one of them poles he’s using costs over a hundred bucks.”

And so forth. I’d been hearing it all my life.

Substitute “tenkara” for “dry fly” and you get the picture.

I won’t spoil the story but here is Tapply’s punch line:

“Wanted to see how it was done. I’ve always thought that fly fishing was so cool but figured it was too hard for an old dog to learn. You made it look easy.”

“It is easy,” I said.

“Looks like a lot of fun,” he said. “I gotta learn how to do that.”

“Really?” I said. “You want to be a fly fisherman?”

“Yeah. I always have.”

“We’re terrible snobs, you know.”

They both laughed as if they didn’t believe me.

Next time you feel compelled to offer up your opinion on what is or is not the right way to fish, and I don’t care what type of fishing it is, you would be well advised to read Tapply’s story again. There is no room in the sport for snobs.

The Duty to Act

Below is a trailer to the film CO2LD WATERS.

You need to watch it.

As Thomas McGuane wrote in The Longest Silence, “if the trout are lost, smash the state.”

Fortunately, Todd Tanner of Conservation Hawks has started the process. In this new project he joins fly fishing notables Craig Mathews of Blue Ribbon Flies, Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia, Steve Hemkens of Orvis and Tim Romano of Angling Trade in pointing out the consequences of ignoring global climate change.

If you don’t think climate change is problem, then you are just not paying attention.

Not sure what you can do about it? Share this video, add your voice and stay informed.



Blood Knot Wins Big at The Drake Film Awards

One of the annual highlights of IFTD, the fly fishing trade show, is The Drake Film Awards. This was the 9th annual awards show and an especially exciting night was in store for Mossy Creek Fly Fishing and TwoFisted Heart Productions as Blood Knot took two awards in front of a audience of fly fishing industry pros.

As Brian and Colby said “it was pretty exciting to have Blood Knot get included in F3T, then get nominations in The Drake Film Awards, but none of us expected this…”

Brian and Colby Trow accept the award for Best Freshwater Movie at the 2014 Drake Film Awards

Brian and Colby Trow accept the award for Best Freshwater Movie at the 2014 Drake Film Awards

Colby’s post on Facebook captured the gratitude in winning the award, “Unreal. Overwhelmed. Utterly blown away. Thanks to everyone who supported the film. Nick and Kami Swingle Ladson Webb, Two TwoFisted Heart Productions for creating this film! Tom Sadler for getting us all mixed up in the industry. The Orvis Company, Tenkara USA, Art Webb with BCF, Virginia Tourism, and of course the lovely wives that put up with our shenanigans. Best Freshwater Film? Seriously. Thanks Tom Bie , The Drake Magazine, and F3T!”

Still pumped from the previous honor, the night got even more fantastic when they were called back to the stage!!!

Best Movie

Brian and Colby Trow accept the award for Best Movie of the Year at the 2014 Drake Film Awards

Colby on Facebook again, “BLOWN AWAY! We have no words. Thanks to everyone who has believed in our shop and guides. Nick Swingle Kami Swingle Ladson – We need to PARTY!!! The Drake Magazine Thanks for the love. Best Film…..really? This is insane. Party time!”

Then the smiles really broke out!

Brian and Colby show their appreciation to Tom Bie, The Drake's editor.

Brian and Colby show their appreciation to Tom Bie, The Drake’s editor.


There are two special people that make the video magic that is Blood Knot happen. Kami and Nick Swingle of TwoFisted Heart Productions are the brains behind the scenes and the camera that make it all come together. Colby and Brian shared the awards with Nick and Kami -fittingly on the banks of Mossy Creek, last Sunday.

Swingle Trow Trophys

Brian and Colby share The Drake Film awards with Kami and Nick Swingle. Photo by TwoFisted Heart Productions.


At the White House Conference on Conservation

I put my AFFTA hat on last Friday to participate in the White House Conference on Conservation. The conference was excellent and while I often grouse about having to “go to DC” this was time well spent.

The theme for the conference was “Growing America’s Outdoor Heritage and Economy.” A theme that is near and dear to our heart here at Dispatches. The drum beat of “habitat equals opportunity equals economic activity” is getting louder and I couldn’t be happier. It is to the great credit that the Administration, especially the Department of Interior, is championing the economic value of the conservation and outdoor recreation.

America’s Great Outdoors

The conference was part of the on-going America’s Great Outdoors initiative. The “on-going” is important to note. Since the Obama Administration rolled AGO out under the capable guidance of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and his team, they have kept stakeholders and the public informed and engaged. This conference was the latest example.

The purpose of the conference was to “engage directly with conservation leaders from all 50 states to strengthen partnerships and identify next steps in advancing community-driven conservation and outdoor recreation initiatives that are building strong local economies and healthy lands, waters and wildlife across America.

Joining Salazar at the conference were Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. Each participated in panel discussions to help frame the discussions in breakout sessions later in the day.

The three panels during the conference were (the links take you to videos of the panels):

Each panel was moderated by an administration official with remarks from folks who have experience or involvement in the subject areas. Of special note was Dave Perkins Vice-Chairman of the Orvis Company. Perkins was part of the Restoring Rivers panel and did a great job in connecting the dots to the economic contributions of river recreation and restoration. Having a major player from the fly-fishing industry was important recognition of both the economic and conservation contributions the industry makes.

The capstone to the day came with remarks from President Obama. Having the President come to Interior underscores the importance the administration puts on conservation and the impact of the recreational economy.

Focusing on specifics

In order for folks to talk about specific interests there were 11 breakout sessions:

  • Tourism and Outdoor Recreation
  • Coastal Conservation
  • Access: Recreation / Hunting & Fishing
  • Large Landscape Conservation
  • Urban Open Space
  • Rivers Restoration and Recreation
  • Youth and Outdoor Education
  • The 21st Century Service Conservation Corps, Youth Corps and Veterans Jobs
  • Historic and Cultural Preservation and Sacred Tribal Places
  • Public Lands Management and Conservation
  • National Park Second Century

These breakout sessions were used to learn from stakeholders what was working in the AGO initiative and more importantly what needed to be done.

I attended the Rivers Restoration and Recreation session moderated by Rock Salt from the Dept. of the Army (Civil Works) and Rebecca Wodder from Interior.

Wodder framed the discussion by asking, when it came to rivers, what works and what needs work.

National Water Trails

Earlier in the week, Salazar had signed a Secretarial Order establishing a National Water Trails system under the National Trails System Act.

“The order sets the framework for Secretarial designation of water trails that will help facilitate outdoor recreation on waterways in and around urban areas, and provide national recognition and resources to existing, local water trails.”

Many in the room pointed to the new National Water Trails as an important step forward and one that has great potential to provide stakeholders a way to promote water-based outdoor recreation, encourage community stewardship of local waterways, and promote tourism that fuels local economies across America.

From AFFTA’s perspective, this is a great opportunity. It really is very simple, rivers are our business, they are the principal venues for our customers and clients. There is an indisputable nexus between the health of a river and its viability as a recreational resource.

I used the case of the Colorado River and its tributaries as an example. It was one the Secretary was familiar: “It’s a mecca of economic development in outdoor recreation, and that needs to be recognized in how we manage the Colorado River System.”   I encouraged them to remind Secretary Salazar and Asst Secretary Darcy to keep those economic impacts in mind when making decisions that affect water supply and quality.

I know that my AFFTA colleagues will welcome the chance to work on making the new National Water Trails system a recreational and economic success.

National Fish Habitat Partnership

Salazar also announced that is working with the Secretary Vilsack and Commerce Secretary John Bryson on a Memorandum of Agreement to ensure that Federal resources are effectively focused in support of the collaborative conservation efforts of the National Fish Habitat Partnership.

The National Fish Habitat Partnerships provide local, public-private conservation partnerships that are the foundation of the three part equation, “Habitat = Recreational Opportunity = Economic Activity, which so important to AFFTA. Healthy habitat and clean water create the venues for AFFTA member’s customers and clients.

The National Fish Habitat Action Plan and the National Fish Habitat Partnership are strongly supported by AFFTA and this announcement that an agreement is in the works is excellent news. This is an important step to having our federal partners work together to insure the success of the partnerships and the important work they do.

As a member of the steering committee of the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture, one of the 18 National Fish Habitat Partnerships, I know that a well coordinated effort with the various federal agencies can only help the EBTJV continue its successful efforts to ensure healthy, fishable brook trout populations throughout its historic range.

As someone who is often cynical about the value of these types of get togethers, this one was a winner. Sure there is more to be done but the America’s Great Outdoors initiative has been a lot more than rhetoric. The President has shown his support, traveling to the Department of Interior twice and hosting a gathering at the White House. There are AGO projects in 50 states.

Now with this engagement on rivers and fish habitat there is a new opportunity for anglers and the sport fishing industry. That can only be a good thing.

Fear no plaid

The jesters over at Moldy Chum are goading Tom Rosenbauer in their blog, Thurston! be a good man and fetch my kilt.

Since I know Mr. R is a good sport in every sense of the word I thought I would give him some support and encouragement by showing some tartan solidarity.

Any guesses where the tee shirt is from?

Yup, drinking a tilted kilt...

And as soon as it warms up I am going to add a photo of the latest fashion in tenkara fishing… stay tuned!

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