I was hoping to have this interview up last week but being in Florida made it tough. The Mad Dog Banquet is tonight and I had hoped to put it up last week to gather some attention.. the best laid plans.... so without further adieu...
I met Clark a couple of years ago while I was doing my teaching internship. We met at school one afternoon and started talking fishing. Next thing you know I was a board member of Mad Dog Trout Unlimited- the chapter that Clark has been president of for a while now. Clark is a very personable guy and enjoyable to spend time with. He is an excellent fly angler, even catching gorgeous wild rainbows on a horrible dump cast (I witnessed this last year). He has been a huge part of the work that Mad Dog has done in the past few years.
|Clark chasing after the ever elusive Atlantic salmon|
My father-in-law gave me my first lesson on the Lamoille downstream from Ithel Falls in Johnson back in 1977. I don't think I caught anything but it is a place near and dear to me. Bill was a great outdoorsman who loved fly fishing got trout and bird hunting.
What do you enjoy most about trout fishing in Vermont?
I love the challenge and the unknown..what's going to happen next, Vermont rivers have an intimacy that Western rivers I've fished lack. I like the privacy since most VT rivers and streams are pretty uncrowded. What's not to love about the beauty, gee whiz it's a lovely place to fish. Sometimes I even catch a trout, that's fun, too!
As the chapter president of MadDog TU you have done a lot of work in the past few years to help out trout in Central Vermont. Can you explain some of the things that the chapter has done while you were at the helm?
|Clark with a gorgeous Connecticut River brookie|
We are active in riparian projects in the Winooski, Dog and some in the Mad River. There are projects like these each year. We've also been on the forefront with signage re "rock snot" ,a.k.a., Didymo (an invasive algae that has gotten into several Vermont streams and rivers). We've lobbied around issues of habitat lose which could arise if small hydro dams or diversions are developed. The Chapter also was a partner in removing a dam on a tributary of the Dog River- Cox Brook. That was very satisfying in re-connecting a river system! Many, many chapter members have been involved. We like to do intimate projects working directly with local land owners.
Right now what would you consider some of the biggest threats to trout and their habitat in Central Vermont?
I think habitat lose is always a significant threat, which means poor riparian bank habitat. The rivers and streams with good buffers are usually healthy systems. Disconnected systems are significant as well, remove barriers and dams and rivers are healthier. Poor hydro dam management contributes to warm water. If we could even out water releases, which produce power, we could still produce power and keep rivers healthier and we'd like higher minimum flows, of course. I could go on and on but I'm also concerned about "user conflicts" like the conflict between boaters and in stream fishers.
If the chapter was given a grant for $500,000 to do any kind of cold water work in our district, what project or projects would you?
Even out dam releases at Little River Dam, higher minimum flows there, too, remove dams, like the Warren Village Dam on the Mad. Pay landowners who do riparian buffer projects. Umm..$500K is a lotta loot!
At a recent public meeting about special regulations on a local trout river, you spent quite a bit of time talking to folks who fish with bait. I thought that this was a great thing. What do you see are the biggest hurdles for these two communities coming together to work to improve the resource and do you think it is possible to bridge that gap?
A real tough one...maybe the issue is somewhat related to "consuming" a resource. TU folks generally practice catch and release and bait folks tend to keep trout. However, TU do eat trout and bait fishers do release them. I think there's an elitist issue, too. I'd love it if folks who love to be in the outdoors and want their kids to love the outdoors could meet and agree and that so we could work together.
The annual MadDog Trout Unlimited Banquet is coming up quickly! Can you tell the readers where and when it is, and give a few snippets of what might be on the menu?
The MadDog TU Banquet is this Saturday the 30 at the Barn Door Restaurant in Waitsfield, VT. We have fish, pork and a pasta options, unfortunately, we can't take anymore reservations.
Who is this year’s guest speaker and are there any “bonus” opportunities with him?
Fishy Fullum is the guest presenter! A former outdoor writer from the Albany NY area and fly tyer of great renown! He's doing a fly tying seminar at 3:00 on the 30th at the Barn Door!
Are there any work days planned soon for MadDog if any local anglers want to get out and help us out? What do we have on the books to do for boots on the ground this year?
I think we'll be on the rivers doing some riparian buffer projects either the Saturday of May 7th or 14th. We'll be doing 2 projects on the Dog and one on the Winooski.
Let’s get back to something fun…. Do you have a go to fly for VT rivers?
Pheasant tail nymph, prince nymph, smallish 18's to 20's. I've been fishing more wet flies lately, too. It is a graceful and productive method. When I can fish dries...elk hair caddis.
I know you have done some traveling and had some cool angling experiences. Could you share a story or two?
I fished the Sauk River in Washington one April Saturday many years ago and within 20 minutes i got my 1st steelhead, out west anyway and I got a bull trout! I thought I got a laker out of a western river, they look alike, at least to me. Catching my first brown, a fat bugger, on the Madison in the Park, it was magical. I used a small black soft hackle, so a wet fly caught that fish. Later that night on the Madison shared a pool with a grizzly! Scared the pants off both of us! Also had a great day catching bonita off Catalina Island near Long Beach, CA.
What kind of fishing experiences, both local and travel worthy, do you hope to have in the coming year or years?
Man, I gotta get my first Atlantic salmon...hope to be on the Margaree this fall. Some day gotta go to New Zealand, too!
Thanks a million Clark!