Short Casts

Short Casts

Updating the TU's stream-access debate, contest info and more.

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The Traver Writing Contest Enter to win $2,500

Get Writing:The deadline for the 2008 Robert Traver Fly-fishing Writing Contest is fast approaching. The contest is open to essays as well as works of fiction, so if you have an essay or short-story idea just waiting to be let out, start writing now.

The winning piece will be printed in the November/December 2008 issue of FR&R and the author will receive a $2,500 prize courtesy of the John D. Voelker Foundation.

Here are the rules: The winning essay or story must be: "A distinguished original essay or work of short fiction that embodies an implicit love of fly-fishing, respect for the sport and the natural world in which it takes place, and high literary values."

To enter, send in a typed, double-space manuscript of no more than 3,500 words to Fly Rod& Reel, Robert Traver Award, PO Box 370, Camden, ME 04843. Submit your manuscript on a CD along with a hard copy, and please include an oversize self-addressed stamped envelope. No e-mail submissions will be accepted. Entries must be post marked by April 14, 2008.

Win a Winston Rod& Bob White Prints

Don't forget to enter our sweepstakes to win a set of Bob White prints autographed by Bob and "Sporting Life" columnist John Gierach. Two lucky FR&R readers will win a set of prints of the first (above) and 100th "Sporting Life" paintings. Only 600 sets of these prints will be made, so this is a rare opportunity to get a special piece of fly-fishing artwork.

And one lucky winner will receive a 5-weight Boron II-MX fly rod courtesy of the Winston Rod Company. For more information on the Boron II-MX rods (right), check out winstonrods.com. If you want to purchase a set of prints, visit Bob's Web site www.whitefishstudio.com. They retail for $600.

Enter to win at www.flyrodreel.com.

The Ausable Two-Fly Challenge

The One-Fly contest in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is world-famous for attracting some of the best anglers from across the country to the banks of the South Fork of the Snake River. But a lesser known fly-fishing contest in northern New York hopes to make a name for itself on the East Coast.

The Ausable Two-Fly Challenge will be held on May 17 on the banks of the West Branch of the Ausable River. More than 75 anglers from as far away as Texas are expected to come to Wilmington, New York, to try their skills on the trout of this storied river flowing through the Adirondack Mountains.

The contest was formed eight years ago by a group of local anglers who wanted to promote the river as a fishery and raise money to protect it. The contest's rules are simple: Anglers bring two flies to the river and when you lose them you're out. They can be any combination of patterns: a nymph and a streamer, or two nymphs and so forth.

Leonard Sauers, a past director of the event, said subsurface flies-streamers and nymphs-have caught the most fish. In fact, Sauers won the 2001 tournament with weighted and non-weighted versions of a size 12 Pheasant Tail Nymph. Other winning patterns include Prince Nymphs, Hare's Ears and Woolly Buggers.

Sauers describes the river as being surrounded by mountains and "a mix of fast water with lots of riffles and deep holes, and a section upriver that is slow and meandering. It's a great fishery."

The contest is followed by a dinner, which this year will feature well-known fly tier and local fly shop owner Fran Betters as a speaker. For more information call 888-944-8332 or visit www.ausableflyfishing.com. For travel information go to www.flyfishadks.com.

Cast from the Past

I like to think of it as a river with many tributaries. I'm not surfing the Internet, I'm fishing it… Sometimes I like what I find, a lot of the time I'm ready to go on and make another cast. If one tributary looks interesting, I'll follow it, jumping from one holding lie to another within it."
Scott Roederer writing about the Internet (and belaboring the metaphor) in the November/December 1996 issue.

TU Makes Up

An update on the recent stream-access debate
Trout Unlimited's internal rift over stream access (see our July/October 2007 issue for the full story or go to flyrodreel.com) has been patched up for now. At the annual meeting of the National Leadership Council (NLC), which was held concurrent with a national Board of Trustees meeting in September in Boise, Idaho, the organization's volunteer leadership passed a resolution recommending that the access policy that had been implemented in May 2006-which created a Stream Access Working Group to evaluate on a case-by-case basis a local chapter's or state council's desire to be involved in access disputes-be given a chance to work.

Although TU president Charles Gauvin had called the 2006 policy "flawed beyond repair" in March, the organization's Board of Trustees agreed to keep it in place.

"If it had gone the other way, there was great risk to the organization," said John "Duke" Welter, the newly elected NLC chair, "but I'm pretty reassured by the outcome that we're going in the right direction."

In March of 2007, Bob Teufel, the acting chairman of TU's Board of Trustees, introduced a proposal-supported by Gauvin and other members of the national staff-that would have issued a bright-line prohibition on any local chapter or state council getting involved in disputes over stream access. The previous board chairman, John Maher, had resigned abruptly, citing continued involvement in stream-access disputes as an impediment to his vision for the organization's future.

A broad-based reaction against Teufel's proposal among the organization's 150,000 volunteers led to its withdrawal, but not before exposing a sharp division within the organization, mainly between TU's grassroots membership and some members of the national leadership. For months, heated exchanges peppered Web sites and the letters to the editor pages of this and other publications.

In Boise in September, however, both the grassroots membership and the national Trustees discussed stream access and determined that the existing TU policy should be maintained.

"The policy needed to have a chance to work. It was premature to attack it because it hadn't shown itself to be a failure," Welter said. "As long as people understand there's a mechanism to decide if we're going to be involved [in access disputes], I think we're stronger as an organization. The process is going to be accessible and it's going to be transparent to those who want to be involved."

The NLC has also formed its own Public Access Working Group to examine the needs of state councils and chapters with concerns about stream access, and to recommend if and how the NLC should include public access as part of its National Conservation Agenda, the organization's conservation marching orders.

"I think there were some real positives that came out of [the dispute] along with some tough stuff," said Steve Moyer, TU's vice president for governmental affairs and volunteer operations. "I think the main thing is people on both sides of the issue got a much better understanding of where the other side was coming from… I would personally say that I think it reminded us all of how important the organization is to us. When we get a little anxious about its welfare, it helps to remind us that it's really valuable to all of us and makes us even more committed to try to work these things out."

Bob Teufel, who sparked the controversy with his proposal for a ban on involvement in stream-access issues, agreed. "I think the process worked because we got all the people that had a sincere interest in having the problem solved together in the same place at the same time," he said. "In retrospect, the issues-especially with our friends in Montana and Wisconsin-probably could have been solved a whole lot more readily had I got on an airplane, flown out there and had a meeting with them."

Face-to-face meetings-which had not previously occurred between trustees and councils and chapters concerned about stream access-helped develop a feeling of good faith, Teufel said. Members of the Montana state council, which had vigorously spearheaded the opposition to his ban proposal, have even invited Teufel on a float trip with them, "and they didn't tell me to bring a rifle," he said.

Doug McClelland, the former TU president from Montana who attended most of the Boise meetings, agreed that the mood among the grassroots members is positive. McClelland also said he felt that, among the grassroots membership "the general consensus is that even though [stream access] may not be explicit in our mission statement, it certainly is part of our mission."

But among all the good will, some feelings of reservation linger. McClelland noted that, even as the NLC was convening in Boise to overwhelmingly affirm the volunteers' desire to include access in their purview, TU president Gauvin was quoted in the Idaho Statesman defending his position that the organization does not belong in stream-access disputes. Doubting whether TU was the "correct vehicle" for engaging in access issues, Gauvin said it's fine for individual members to be involved, but not TU, because access "is not something that's clearly within the mission."

For now, TU members are glad to paddle out of the swirling back-eddy of internal arguments and slide into the flow of coldwater conservation, which they do more of than any organization on the continent.
-Jeff Hull
Jeff Hull is a freelance writer who has written for FR&R since 1994. His work has been published in The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, Audubon, Outside and many other magazines. He lives in Montana.