Swing the Fly Issue 2.4 Spring 2015 - Page 122

Now in their 8th year, Spey Nation, taking place this June 27, 2015 at that same boat launch parking lot boasts an attendance of close to 300 and has the continued support of over seventy local, national and international organizations. People who attend this year’s event will be able to browse over 35 tables filled with gear catered to 2 handed fly fishing techniques and listen to demonstrations of casting and fishing techniques. It’s expanded to include The International Fly Fishing Film Festival Friday night before at the Tailwater Lodge in Altmar, NY and Sunday after the event where interested parties can take lessons or fish in the Douglaston Salmon Run, normally $25/day for free.

Gaining momentum and attendance every year, Spey Nation has attracted the biggest names in the industry and has been able to support, through its raffles, a small group of volunteers working hard to restore a native species in New York State and keep it on map.

The Fish Creek Atlantic Salmon Club was started in 1997 when

the founding members of the club believed that Atlantic Salmon belonged in Fish Creek. The Salmon run, which used to contain adult Atlantic Salmon upwards of 20 pounds swam out of Lake Ontario, up the Oswego River, into Oneida Lake near Syracuse and when the fall spate rains came, made the rest of the journey up the 35 mile Fish Creek to spawn in the headwaters. The construction of the Erie Canal blocked the fish’s passage to their spawning grounds. Around the Lake Ontario watershed the eradication of Atlantic Salmon was also in full swing by the usual suspects. Dams, overfishing, pollution and habitat degradation finished the natives as they have done all over the world. Currently State Federal and international programs are underway to bolster Atlantic Salmon populations in Lake Ontario however Oneida Lake and Fish Creek are still impounded by 7 working dams and not on any official program list. A small group of dedicated volunteers manning an off-the-grid (Powered by gravity) in-stream hatchery on donated land are out to change that. Independently stocking fish in New York State is expensive and through Spey Nation’s Annual Clave those costs are mitigated.

But there’s something special about those who travel to Pineville every summer. It’s obviously not the quality of the summer fishery. The real mystery is why keep people keep coming to a spey clave every year on an infamous snagging river, where the general consensus around the world is that Pulaski is the worst place to go fishing. The people who come to Spey Nation love steelhead rivers, and for better or worse, this one is theirs. They work to make it the best one it can be. People who go to Spey Nation talk about concepts like streamside etiquette, conservation, returning Atlantic Salmon to historical watersheds, and angler rotation…and they share our knowledge to everyone who listens on this special day and throughout the year. Just ask those who fish the river now. They will tell you that instead of one or 2 long rods each day on the river; you may see one or five in each pool. You may even see some casting and stepping being performed. And even more interesting is that you may witness a line of rods rotating in the more popular runs. Yes a fishery is changing, if only two hands at a time. Some of the problems are generational. It’s a long road ahead but they’ve come a long way in just 8 short years.