Tuesday, August 6, 2013

An Interview with Trout Unlimited's Bob Wesolowski

Bob Wesolowski, the former president of the Croton Trout Unlimited chapter, graciously agreed to answer some of my many questions about TU and our watershed.  For anyone who is unfamiliar with TU, they are a fantastic organization that do a ton of good work for conservation and fly fishing in general. If you're not a member already, I highly recommend joining and considering volunteering for some of their many programs.

What are some of the changes you've noticed over the years in terms of the fishing and stream conditions?
Hard surface runoff has caused siltation in a growing number of streams. We also see fewer members who help with projects like Trout in the Classroom, stream stocking and stream clean-ups. On a positive note, DEP and DEC fisheries biologists continue to work hard to improve our fishery. They are never more than a phone call away.

We're in the midst of the hottest time of year- are there any streams that we should avoid fishing due to high temperatures?

It's important to check the water temperature before fishing any stream. Walk away and find some other activity once the temperature reaches the low 70's. A few summers ago two local TU chapters placed thermometers in some of their local streams with the idea that they would post temperatures on their sites.  Time and again the equipment was stolen so I don't see that in our future.

Can you describe some of the programs local Trout Unlimited members can get involved in to improve our local streams and trout populations? 

Many folks fail to remember that the primary purpose of this watershed is supplying water to New York City. Any attempts to change flows, conduct stream clean-ups or engage in stream restoration must all be approved by DEP. That can sometimes be a long, difficult process. Some clean-up activities that our chapter once did have been curtailed because of more oversight and a need for greater transparency. Local anglers can do three things to help. #1, carry out trash they find along the streams. #2, report poachers or environmental problems to the DEC's hotline: 1-877-457-5680. Anglers can also use the DEC's website: http://www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/393.html. #3, remember that Didymo is in the Farmington River and some of the upstate streams. Properly clean and dry your equipment. A little prevention can go a long way. In addition, each year our chapter asks for volunteers to help with Trout in the Classroom releases. We ask for members to serve on the board. We ask for volunteers to take disabled vets fishing in conjunction with Project Healing Waters. And on chapter trips we ask experienced anglers to mentor the new guys.

Trout Unlimited put on an excellent presentation on Didymo this past winter- have there been any more signs of this in our local streams?


Croton River in the town of Croton-on-Hudson is where the Didymo was found. It was immediately reported to DEP.

How important is the social media/digital landscape to TU? And do you think putting so much information out there publicly in the digital realm is helpful or detrimental to the fishing community?

Anglers regularly check the chapter's web site for news on stream conditions and chapter events. We average several hundred hits each day. Feedback from members also shows that we use email blasts effectively. Blogs are another story. It's my belief that for every bit of good, reliable information there is an equal amount of self-serving commentary. I'm reminded of a local guide who started a blog a few years ago. After a good start, anglers soon lost interest. Rather than close the blog, the guide created a number of online personalities who touted his services, expertise and great fishing conditions.
For anyone unfamiliar with TU, they are a fantastic organization that do a ton of good work for conservation and fly fishing in general. If you're not a member, I highly recommend joining and considering volunteering for some of their many programs.