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Join Us! Click here for more details
Save The River is looking for qualified candidates for paid internships this Summer.
The positions run from mid May through Labor Day.
Applications will be accepted until March 17, 2017.
There really is no better way to spend a summer – on the water, in the storefront, working on the frontlines with Save The River / Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper protecting the River!
Check out the trailer for “What Lies Below” & you will definitely want to meet Lawrence Gunther, a great advocate for sustainable fishing. We are honored to have Lawrence share his experience, knowledge & wit at our Winter Conference.
Lawrence is North America’s only blind professional angler & champion of fish conservation. Drawing on his experience as a commercial fisher for Cod on Canada’s east coast, & as a competitive angler in over 125 fishing tournaments, he now focuses his energy on empowering others to become stewards of their waters & fish resources.
Prior to founding “Blue Fish Canada”, a charity dedicated to the future of fish & fishing, Lawrence earned a Masters in Environmental Studies that included conducting research throughout Canada’s Arctic & Scandinavia. His articles on sustainable fishing can be found in numerous outdoor publications, & his “Blue Fish Radio” podcasts (where he interviewed our Riverkeeper) are heard by over 100,000 listeners each week.
The documentary “What Lies Below” follows Lawrence & his guide dog as they explore ten fish habitat and sustainability stories throughout Canada. As host, Lawrence travels throughout Canada to speak with people who live by & from the water. What he learns is that there are a lot of people who feel strongly about the long term sustainability of their fishing resources.
So join us, your friends – old & new at Clayton’s 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel to celebrate and learn about the River we love.
Schedule: Saturday, February 4, 2017
9:30am – Registration and morning coffee
10:00 am – 4:00pm Presentations
4:00 pm – Cocktail Reception with cash bar
Conference fee: $50 (includes coffee, lunch, & cocktail reception with light hors d’oeuvres)
RSVP no later than Friday, January 27, 2017 to Save The River using the form found here or by calling us at (315) 686-2010.
We’ll see you there!
As we reported here in an earlier post, “St. Lawrence River & Key Figures Play Big Role in Upcoming Film“, in June the crew from Changing Currents, PLU MediaLab, came to New York, Ontario and, specifically the St. Lawrence River for interviews and filming for “Changing Currents: Protecting North America’s Rivers”, an examination of river pollution and restoration efforts in North America.
In a recently released trailer for the movie portions of an interview with Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper and Save The River Executive Director Lee Willbanks are shown. “I am honored to be able to speak about the work we and many others have done to preserve, protect and restore the St. Lawrence River as part of what looks to be an excellent documentary about the threats to freshwater bodies across North America and some of the restoration efforts occurring in communities across the continent.”
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, about 50 percent of rivers and lakes in the United States are too polluted for swimming or fishing. The mission of the film is to educate others on ecological river health, encourage environmental stewardship and advocate for dialog regarding effective river protection. The film is currently in pre-production and will premiere on Nov. 12, 2016 in the Theatre on the Square at the Broadway Center for Performing Arts in Tacoma, Washington.
Alexandria Bay fishing guide Matt Heath, owner of Seaway Charters, took part in a Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River, basin-wide discussion about the threat of Asian Carp and what is needed to prevent their spread to the Lakes and River.
The meeting, organized by Freshwater Future, included guides from Illinois, Michigan, Ontario, Ohio and Matt.
Their conclusion: Physical separation is the only effective way to prevent the spread of Asian Carp.
As Matt pointed out, “We know from experience that aquatic invasive species have devastating impacts on the Great Lakes all the way down the St. Lawrence River. Preventing future invasions is crucial to protect our waters. Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, and Wisconsin have invested time and resources to close their connections, and it’s time we finally shut the front door to keep Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes.”
From the Freshwater Future press release: “Asian carp are voracious eaters, eating up to 20% of their body weight. They spawn rapidly, and can grow to more than 4 feet long and weigh up to 100 pounds. To make matters worse, silver carp are easily startled and will jump up to 8 feet out of the water when disturbed by a passing boat. These fish have injured boaters in several states. These destructive fish dominate whole ecosystems, outcompeting native fish, like perch, bass, and walleye, for food and resources. . . Global biological invasions, including the potential carp invasion of the Great Lakes, could cost an estimated $1.4 trillion per year in damages – 5 percent of the global economy.”
We really appreciate Matt speaking out and participating in this very important issue. And we appreciate Freshwater Future for giving local voices a chance to speak out.
Originally published in the Watertown Daily Times on March 9, 2016.
From today’s Watertown Daily Times editorial page, “Promoting the Thousand Islands as a wonderful tourist destination recently became a little easier. . . By focusing on water quality and watershed issues, members of Save the River do their part to attract visitors.” It is worth a full read.
With a super shout out to Save The River, the editorial correctly mentions our members. They are full-time and seasonal residents, boaters, kayakers, swimmers, anglers, divers, birders, hunters, scientists, artists, teachers, students of all ages, public figures, business owners, Canadian and American. And they are members because they believe in our mission to protect and preserve the St. Lawrence River.
Even so, we are not in this alone, and the River region (and Save The River) is blessed to have a tremendous number of groups and agencies all working to keep the land and water clean and sustaining for generations. A partial list of those we partner with: Waterkeeper Alliance, Thousand Islands Land Trust, Indian River Lakes Conservancy, Minna Anthony Common Nature Center – Friends, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, IJC – International Joint Commission, Audubon New York, Ducks Unlimited, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, WWF-Canada, SUNY-ESF, Algonquin to Adirondacks Collaborative, Clarkson University, Healing Our Waters – Great Lakes Coalition, Antique Boat Museum, The Nature Conservancy in New York, Wilson Hill Wildlife Management Area, St. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Sciences, Alliance for the Great Lakes, Thousand Islands Tourism Council, Aquatarium, and so many others.
We all have a place on the River and we all have a role in using it sustainably, and ensuring it is swimmable, drinkable and fishable to seven generations.
Published by Oneida Daily Dispatch on August 12, 2015
The famous fly fisherman and star of the TV show “American Sportsman” Lee Wulff popularized the saying that a great game fish was too valuable to only catch once. Lee Wulff’s fishing adventures often stressed catch and release and demonstrated how to properly do it. But Wulff was not rigid or dogmatic about the idea. He would say that it was also proper to keep a few fish to eat. Moderation and common sense should be the angler’s guidelines.
In a recent column we discussed the idea that catch and release often a good thing, especially in areas of high fishing pressure or for species that are naturally propagated instead of raised in a hatchery. That column focused more on the methods of safe handling and care for fish so they can be released successfully.
One thing worth repeating is that it is usually better to release the fish while it is still in the water whenever possible. This is especially true when dealing with large fish like northern pike. Mike Seymour is a guide on the St. Lawrence River who guides clients for muskies, bass and pike. Often his clients will hook a nice-sized pike and bring it alongside the boat. The angler smiles and asks Captain Mike Seymour how much he thinks it weighs. Mike nods and says “well right now it is a 10 pounder. But if we bring it into the boat it will weigh 7 pounds.” The angler grins and says OK, while Mike deftly uses his pliers to unhook the pike and watch it swim away.
As a guide and a sportsman, Mike Seymour quietly stresses the importance of the practice of catch and release. Throughout the season Mike or his son regularly catch big muskies and quickly photograph and release them. This has been an ethic stressed for many years by most muskie fisherman. These elusive and mysterious fish have increased in both size and number in the St. Lawrence in recent years due to this common practice.
Two things, however, must be kept in mind when fishing: It does not do any good to release the fish if you are careless and do not handle the fish carefully. Secondly, this is a guideline and should not be a dogmatic, black and white issue either way.
It is more important to practice this where the fish population is pressured, numbers are limited and much of the population comes from natural propagation. Save the River, a conservation-based organization on the St. Lawrence River, is stressing limiting the number of smallmouth bass that you keep while fishing. Numbers of smallmouth bass have declined sharply in recent years due to several factors, mainly the presence of the predatory round gobies which raid the nests.
But if there are large numbers, or many of that species come from hatchery stock, that is a different situation. You should not feel guilty or be ostracized if you keep some fish for the frying pan. As long as you do it – like most things – in moderation the resource will not be harmed.
Very few people believe in catch and release for walleye. One factor is that walleye are good tasting and that is the reason people fish for them. It certainly is not the excitement of fighting them. Walleye are also stocked by the DEC so the majority of the population comes from this stock.
Of course king and Coho salmon are going to die after spawning so there is no reason to feel guilty. Some people release them so they can continue fishing and others may have the chance to catch the same fish. But the great taste of salmon and the numbers of stocked fish means most will naturally end up on the grill.
When releasing fish with care you should minimize the time out of the water. Using barbless hooks and using pliers makes it easier to release a fish. Wet your hands to minimize removing protective slime when you have to handle fish. Take some quick photos and carefully put it back in the water, or put it in the live well to be photographed later.
If you do have to net a large fish like a muskie to unhook it, place a wet towel over its eyes to keep it from thrashing about the boat. Do not lift it vertically since this unnatural position can put great stress on its organs.
Grabbing a bass by the lower lip can immobilize it, but do not try to force it into a horizontal position using this grip. If you need to take a horizontal photo, use your other hand to support the fish underneath. Pike can be immobilized by firmly gripping the fish over the gill plates or using a “spreader.” Never grab any fish through the gills.
Lifting a trout up under its belly seems to temporarily relax or immobilize them. Again a quick photo, or even one in the shallow water will provide memories or proof of your catch to your friends.
When I was a youngster I practiced a lot of catch and release even before it was popular. Part of the reason was that I wanted to insure lots of fish to catch later and part of the reason was that I was too lazy to clean many fish. We always had a rule to keep any big brown trout. Part of it was the desire to show off a trophy, and part of it was the fact that big browns are cannibals and clean out a pool by eating all the small trout. Today some fishing clubs or leases have similar rules.
Keep in mind that you are fishing to enjoy the experience and if you catch some fish the experience is even more rewarding. If you are going to keep some fish for the grill, just consider the circumstances and do it in moderation.