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G&F Digest: Devastating Colo. Flooding, CWD in Texas, Duck Stamp Act Passed

News and notes from the world of hunting, fishing and the outdoors.

G&F Digest: Devastating Colo. Flooding, CWD in Texas, Duck Stamp Act Passed

Flood warning sign on local road in Colorado mountains. (Shutterstock image)

Colorado's South Platte Devastated in Flooding

Earlier this week, a portion of Colorado's renowned South Platte River was devastated by flash flooding that struck the Front Range area on Monday, July 31, 2023 with anywhere from 1 to 4 inches of rain falling in a matter of hours. Particularly hard hit was the picturesque Cheesman Canyon section, one of the top trout waters in the U.S.

Longtime Outdoor Sportsman Group contributor Pat Dorsey, a regular writer and the southwest field editor for Fly Fisherman Magazine, has more than 30 years of guiding experience on the river, co-owns the nearby Blue Quill Angler Fly Shop in Evergreen and is author of the book “Fly Fishing Guide to the South Platte River.” Dorsey indicated that the flash flooding and resulting slides of granite, sludge and debris were worse than what followed the disastrous Hayman Wildfire in June 2002.

That wildfire, the worst in Colorado history after charring more than 137,000 acres, proved to be devastating to the fishery with high fish mortality and reduced spawning success occurring for years after the blaze.

On Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023, Dorsey said in an e-mail to Game & Fish Magazine’s sister publication that this week's flooding disaster on the South Platte seemed beyond what he saw a generation ago. It was especially disheartening because the river was fishing almost heaven-like in the days prior to the flash flood. Dorsey fears the fishery has taken a massive hit and only time will tell how severe the impacts are to one of the nation’s top tailwater streams, rich with insect life and highly selective, big, wild trout.

"Yesterday's flash flood in Cheesman Canyon was the worst storm I've ever seen in there," he wrote in a social media post, noting that he had to hunker down for an hour during the worst of the flooding storm. "Words cannot explain the devastation that occurred to the fishery and the trail. The Gill Trail is trashed, there are sediment slides everywhere, many of which dumped insect and trout-choking sediments into one of America's finest wild trout streams."

"I stood in this hole yesterday catching fish on Sparkle Duns," Dorsey added. "Today this hole is covered in tons of gravel. The devastation is mind-boggling, words cannot explain it. My office is in shambles and our finned (friends) are under distress."

Quail News Looks Promising in Texas

It’s still a little early to know what upland bird hunting seasons will be like this fall, but they are getting closer on the calendar with some wingshooting starting up in early September. Look for reports soon concerning birds like sharptails, sage grouse, Hungarian partridge, pheasants, and more.

Quail hunting campaigns don’t start arriving until October in most places, but the early news looks good—or at least better than the past couple of years—in the bobwhite-rich state of Texas. That’s where a report this week from the ranch laboratory run by the Rolling Plains Quail Research Foundation shows great news that should have Lone Star State quail hunters in the Rolling Plains region of the state all smiles in anticipation of what’s to come this fall and winter.

A report from the foundation shows that technician Adam Vonderschmidt reported that as of July 28 he had "confirmed a total of 82 nests … only seven nests short of our record at RPQRR (89 nests recorded in 2015). Pretty amazing given the torrid conditions that dominated July. With any luck, and some rainfall, we should break the record by the end of nesting season (i.e., Sept. 1).”

The tale of the bobwhite quail tape on the ranch showed that nest success is at 48 percent for completed nests (36/75); that 44 nests have been in fed pastures vs. 38 nests in non-fed pastures; the average clutch size is 14 eggs this year; that the most popular nesting substrate is a combination of bunchgrasses and yucca; that there has already been one bobwhite hen hatching a second nest;  that the ranch currently has three hens on their third nesting attempt; the ranch has seen 149 bobwhite chicks tagged to date; this year’s largest brood capture is 26 chicks with two hens on July 17; and one of those two hens was radio-marked while the other was not.

While it remains to be seen what kind of a quail season hunters will find in Texas this upcoming season, the trends look good in the Rolling Plains.

Federal E-Duck Stamp Passes Senate Vote

Ducks Unlimited reports that late last week, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Duck Stamp Modernization Act, paving the way for the Federal Duck Stamp to become more accessible for waterfowl hunters. With the Senate bill introduced by U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-KS) and Angus King (I-ME), a companion bill now awaits a full vote by the House of Representatives. That companion bill, which DU says was introduced by Reps. Garret Graves (R-LA) and Mike Thompson (D-CA), has already passed the House Natural Resources Committee and should pass in the full House vote.

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As long as that happens as anticipated, the bi-partisan bill will authorize the E-Stamp version of the Federal Duck Stamp to be used by waterfowl hunters throughout the waterfowl hunting season according to DU.

It will satisfy the requirement to have a duck stamp while hunting, as hunters will be able to access the electronic stamp with a smartphone. For those who prefer the actual stamp, it will remain available for purchase each year at the post office and retail vendors around the country.

"Duck hunters led the charge in making the Federal Duck Stamp one of the most successful conservation funding programs in history," said Nick Wiley, DU's Chief Operating Officer, in a news release. "As we celebrate 80 years and over 8 million acres of habitat conserved through this program, it’s only right that we streamline the process and allow the use of electronic stamps throughout the season. This commonsense legislation is good for duck hunters and will help maintain strong support for the Duck Stamp program. We thank our friends in the Senate, and we look forward to a supportive vote in the House soon."

Bad CWD Deer News Continues in Texas

With positive detections of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in deer breeding facilities continuing to increase across the state, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has adopted an emergency rule that implements additional movement and testing restrictions for whitetails in such breeding facilities. According to a news release, since June of this year, the Austin-based agency has received confirmation of CWD in deer breeding facilities in three counties, Brooks, Frio and Zavala. Even worse, in 2023 alone TPWD notes that CWD has been detected in nine deer breeding facilities in seven counties.

And if that’s not bad enough, the agency notes that a total of 14 counties in Texas have had positive detections since March 2021 as the fatal deer disease spreads like a prairie wildfire in a state with more than five million whitetails. “Since 2021, we have seen an increase in CWD detections from breeder deer at an unprecedented rate,” said John Silovsky, Wildlife Division Director for TPWD, in the news release. “It’s our hope that these emergency rules will strengthen our surveillance and reduce the number of CWD positive detections across the state.”

Nelson Bags Another Trophy, Preps for BPT

In a tournament career that began with an EverStart Series win in 2013 at Virginia's Smith Mountain Lake, bass anglers have known about angler Ron Nelson for a good while now. Nelson continues to impress and has served notice that there are more accolades to come, earning his second national Angler of the Year title and securing a spot on the Bass Pro Tour after the Tackle Warehouse Invitationals season finale at the Mississippi River this past weekend.

The Michigan resident—who will apparently take a BPT spot being vacated by retiring Michigan resident Kevin VanDam—has built an impressive resume over the past decade. His accolades include two more Toyota Series events, earning 19 Top 10 finishes, making seven Toyota Series Championships, winning the 2019 FLW Tour Rookie of the Year title and capturing the 2020 Pro Circuit Angler of the Year title according to Major League Fishing.

In addition to his spot on the BPT Tour in 2024, Nelson is also looking forward to next year's March 13-17 REDCREST 2024 Championship on Alabama's Lay Lake next spring.

“As a young angler in the sport, I watched it for a long time,” said Nelson in the BPT/MLF news report. “Watching the Bassmaster Classic and the Forrest Wood Cup, to fish the Forrest Wood Cup my first year was memorable. So, I hope it’s something similar, because that was something special to be a part of.”

Nelson is also already thinking ahead to his life on the BPT circuit next season, and will reportedly use a full head of steam gained this season as he prepares for the BPT big leagues next year in 2024. And true to form, he’s already thinking big. “A Bass Pro Tour Angler of the Year, that’s the next goal,” Nelson said. “Momentum is a huge thing in this sport, when it rolls, it rolls.”

Short Casts

At this weekend's second annual Delta Waterfowl Duck Hunter's Expo in Little Rock, Ark., Forrest Carvajal was crowned as the 2023 World Cutdown Duck Calling Contest Champion. … Clinton, Ark. angler Joey Cifuentes III, known for wearing a cowboy hat to the weigh-in stage and out on the water, smashed his way to a four-day total of 91-pounds, 8-ounces en route to winning the AFTCO Bassmaster Elite Series event this past weekend on Michigan's Lake St. Clair. It's the second Elite Series win of the year for the Arkansas angler, who is also leading the B.A.S.S. Rookie of the Year standings. ... The American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA) has announced recipients for the organization’s 2023 grant awards money. According to AFFTA, over the years, the AFFTA Fisheries Fund has provided more than $326,000 in support of organizations working to enhance fisheries, restore habitat, and increase awareness. Those dollars have gone for projects that do things like increasing education and training, working for fisheries research and restoration efforts, and assisting underserved communities. For 2023, AFFTA has awarded $27,500 to seven nonprofits that include Cast Hope's Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Fly Fishing Education effort in Nevada; the Henry’s Fork Foundation's Harriman Ranch Fencing Initiative in Idaho; Menikanaehkem’s Menominee Medicine Fish Journey in Wisconsin; the Montana Trout Unlimited Next Gen Youth Engagement project; Montana Fishing Outfitters Conservation Fund effort called "Guiding for the Future;" Native Fish Society's Women 4 Wild Fish program in Oregon; and the Trout Unlimited Yakutat Forestland Stream Habitat Mapping effort in Alaska.




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