Podcast: The Native Fish Coalition, with Bob Mallard

[Interview starts at 37:09]

This week, my guest is the executive director of the Native Fish Coalition, Bob Mallard, who tells us why the organization was formed and what they do. His group took issue with some of the sentiments expressed in last week’s podcast with Kirk Deeter, so to give everyone a broader view of the issue of wild, native fish–as opposed to just wild fish, and Bob explains the difference in the podcast–I invited Bob to come onto the podcast to explain to us just how precious native or indigenous species are. There is much food for thought here, and I hope it makes everyone think about the issues involved.

In the Fly Box, we have the usual roundup of interesting and sometimes tricky questions, and some great tips from listeners, including:

  • How even native black bass in the South are threatened by stocking of non-native varieties.
  • Why doesn’t the Orvis Learning Center talk about the spiritual value and nature of fly fishing?
  • What is the best all-around color for polarized sunglasses?
  • What’s up with bead heads?  Insects don’t have metal heads.
  • A great tip from a listener on how to apply eyes to minnow patterns without getting your fingers stuck together with superglue.
  • How can I straighten a bunch of old saddle hackles that have a kink in them?
  • How do you deal with negative attitudes you hear spouted on the water?
  • A tip from a listener on how to magnetize or demagnetize a pair of forceps or a dubbing needle
  • What fly-tying material does Tom feel is underutilized?
  • A comment from a listener on how something said on a podcast had a big influence on him regarding the “hero shot.”
  • Why am I only catching whitefish, and do people like catching them?
  • Why haven’t we tried restocking aquatic insects in rivers where they have become scarce?
  • What is Tom’s favorite non-fish wildlife encounter on the river?

16 thoughts on “Podcast: The Native Fish Coalition, with Bob Mallard”

  1. This was refreshing and badly needed — especially after the horrendous podcast with Kirk Deeter vilifying rotenone (the only reliable tool for saving endangered native fish from being hybridized, outcompeted and predated off the planet) and depicting native-fish advocates as zealots and crackpots committed to and capable of erasing stocked and naturalized brown trout everywhere in the U.S. from the Arkansas’ White River to Lake Ontario. Bob’s commentary was non-confrontational, superbly informed and even good-humored. Tom, I salute you for giving him the chance to tell our story.
    Ted Williams
    National Chair, Native Fish Coalition

    1. Well stated Ted-not much more I can say. Great podcast Mr. Rosenbauer! This will be great for the wild native fish movement.

  2. As always Tom, thanks for being the one guy in the fly fishing world who is willing to invite everybody to the table to move our sport forward while supporting wild fish. We all learn when we all agree to listen to one another. Thank you!

  3. When I saw this post on the Orvis Facebook page I wondered what was up.
    Having been a founding member of the dynamic TU Chapter for the Deerfield River Watershed… and having been involved with the topic of wild/native/stocked fish issues on the Deerfield and wonderful tributaries… and our Chapter having been solicited by Native Fish Coalition to join us on a really cool project with a woody debris introduction and multi year assessment we have going on with perhaps the best native trout stream in Massachusetts (of which we decided to do on our own)…this caught my eye. I asked myself “what is all the fuss about?”

    Many NFC folks who responded to the Kirk Deeter interview…in my humble opinion…picked out a miniscule part of the interview which obviously struck a cord.
    From my experience with various NFC individuals who have posted on our (DRWTU) social media in response to posts on some of our work with “wild trout populations”…NFC folks in effect challenged us to focus on “native” fish. Some of us questioned what the deal was with NLC. There appeared to be some beef by NLC toward TU. Now it appears to have played out here. Why? The NLC responses were clearly defensive and I feel unwarranted.
    First and foremost I clearly heard Kirk say that he was talking about his personal opinion…but as Tom pointed out most of what he said was consistent with TU positions. So this should not be about TU. However lets look at TU Mission Statement. We work to enhance and protect cold water fisheries for the benefit of wild..and native…fish. So we take care of fisheries and let the fish do the rest. And yes TU has a policy not to support stocking over wild fish…which by definition includes native and non-native species. Malcolm Leaphart response to the Deeter pod cast interview speaks rather well so I won’t get into that further. To suggest Kirk was somehow dismissing the importance of native species is in error. In fact he said they are “top of the game”…and that native fish were “sacred”. The issue of poisoning a river to introduce, or reintroduce, a strain of fish is effectively man re-doing something. Would a purist native fish advocate consider this “native”? Those introduced fish might have genetic connection to another strain in a different watershed unless that strain is saved before the river was poisoned. In that case are they really native to that river/stream! I realize this pokes fun at an absurdity and should not be taken so literally and seriously. As Kirk pointed out, in certain circumstances it is OK to eliminate a species that has overtaken a fishery…like Yellowstone Lake. Tom and Kirk just thought it was not so good to put chemicals in a river. So what?

    I definitely did not get from their conversation that they were espousing absolute truths or dictates. Frankly I feel too much is being made about two anglers shooting the bull about a topic and expressing their personal opinions. NFC folks reacted in such a way that in my mind was over the top.
    Additionally these gentlemen are champions for what we all love and cherish. It is obvious Tom and Kirk put native fish at the top of priority and value the work NLC and TU Chapters, like ours, know and understand is the best and most important work we can do.
    So yes we all can do better. Boy, must be a long winter! We need to get out to a river, chill out, not be so judgmental, and accept the fact we only have so much time on this planet. Lets all work together and do what we can to do it all to make it better for our planet…including what is best for our rivers, lakes, and ocean so Mother Nature can do her marvelous thing. What a concept.
    Oh…by the way…#keepfishwet. Become an Advocate. It is free. Check it out.

      1. You don’t even know me. This has nothing to to do with me. I take no credit, donate 40 or so hours a week to conservation, etc., and have for 20 years.

      2. Did you actually listen to the podcast? Have you ever met Bob? Had a conversation with him? Or are you just bloviating? Your comment is ignorant, uninformed, inflammatory, unfair, and ultimately untrue.

      3. By the way Chris, it was my wife who pointed out your post to me. Think about that. The personal stuff does not advance your cause.

    1. NFC couldn’t support the Deerfield study because it had nothing to do with native fish. It was all about brown trout. About the only advice I have is that you’d get more support if it had a true connection to conservation not just fishing. Peaking power stations are bad for aquatic wildlife. But we couldn’t get behind it when the impetus was wild nonnative browns. Let’s be fair and accurate.

    2. Kevin, I reviewed the project you speak of, and this was an easy one: While there was some value in the project, because the underlying emphasis was on brown trout – a nonnative invasive species in this hemisphere — Native Fish Coalition by definition could not support this project. It completely outside of our mission statement.

  4. I just read all the replies from NFC: They were polite, respectful, and factual. Why do the TUers always have to make it personal? Let’s stick to the facts and focus on the issues rather than resorting to gutless personal attacks. If you have an issue with something specific that was said, bring it forward and let’s talk about it. But I don’t see anyone else making it personal. Bob did not attack anyone. Bob is a volunteer for a small grassroots organization. He is an advocate for wild native fish. What exactly are you accusing him of promoting? The personal attacks are unfounded and unfair. The NFCers did not say, “Kirk is a jerk,” or “Tom is self-promoting,” we challenged specific issues and statements. This is why as a former (20-year) TU member who spent time managing TU projects, speaking at meetings, giving money, etc, I am no longer a supporter. Behavior like this in conjunction with a watered down mission is why I can no longer support TU.

  5. Being a newby here and just becoming informed, I can’t help but scratch my head and wonder why pissing matches like this occur. 20 years ago, TU represented a grassroots, laser focused organization who stood for a balance between conservation and environmental awareness. They then married this to a strong commitment to the fisher people who were in the field enjoying the work. I have recently been researching and been connected to NFC and have experienced their strong commitment and amazing leadership. These folks want nothing but the same and equal voice in the conversation and support of species which were historically on our planet, and have been giving the public opportunities to dwell among fish and watersheds that should be experienced by all who love the outdoors. Okay, so my point is about relationships… don’t get me wrong, I understand the power of money, and how we must leverage both financial and personal resources to accomplish a goal, BUT, nothing good has ever come without a rock solid relationship built on core values of trust, shared vision, integrity, kindness, and a willingness to have an open mind and heart…

  6. The only thing I have been witness to Bob Mallard promoting is wild native fish. I haven’t heard him mention his books once in any public forum. He should be as they are awesome!

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