Felt-sole bans have been popping up across the nation in the last couple of years—in states such as Alaska, Maryland, and Vermont—but now the legislature of fly-fishing’s Holy Land, Montana, has a similar proposal on the table. The bill, initially sponsored by Sen. Ron Erickson (D-Missoula) and now being carried by Tom Facey (D-Missoula), calls for the ban to take effect October 1, 2012. This could be the final nail in the coffin of felt soles.
It’s been common knowledge for several decades that, although they seem to look and behave like different species, rainbow trout and steelhead are both Oncorhyncus mykiss. They are the same species but have different life histories. A new study on populations in Oregon’s Hood River shows that the rainbows and steelhead are much more intimately linked than previously thought and even interbreed extensively. “What’s remarkable about these findings,” [said Mark Christie, an OSU postdoctoral research associate and expert in fish genetic analysis,] “is not just that these are the same fish species, but the extent to which they interbreed, and how important wild trout are to the health of steelhead populations.”
Atlantic striped-bass populations continue to take it on the chin, as Maryland Natural Resources Police seized an illegal fishing net filled with nearly 3 tons of stripers. “This is another example of the staggering abuse of our state natural resources by gill nets,” said Tony Friedrich, executive director of Coastal Conservation Association Maryland. “It also shows why NRP’s effective enforcement of our marine laws is critical for a healthy bay.”
A recent study commissioned by the Everglades Foundation has determined that fishing for tarpon in Florida’s Charlotte Harbor system—including Pine Island Sound and the Caloosahatchee River— contributes a whopping $108 million to the local economy. Armed with numbers like that, conservationists can argue that saving tarpon habitat and populations is an economic imperative.