2023 was another big year for conservation within the fly fishing community. We witnessed historic victories to protect and restore habitats and environmental disasters and fishery management challenges that threaten the longterm sustainability and abundance of our fisheries. Follow along for our 2023 conservation roundup–the good and the bad.

Bristol Bay, courtesy of @AlaskaFlyOut
  1. Pebble Mine Rejected!
    After years and years of advocacy and stop-go progress, the EPA rejected a key permit for the monstrosity that would’ve been Pebble Mine. Bristol Bay’s fisheries, ecosystems, and the communities dependent on the watershed’s sustainable resources finally celebrated! “Today, the people and businesses in Alaska and across the country who stood up for Bristol Bay should take a bow, because their efforts have protected the world’s most important wild salmon runs and the communities that depend on them,” said Chris Wood, President and CEO of Trout Unlimited. “It’s long past time for Pebble to recognize that it will never have community or legal standing to develop this mine. Now, it’s time for us to work for lasting protections for the entire Bristol Bay watershed that match the scope of the threat to this special place.”
    Bristol Bay Forever Pebble Mine Never
  2. Klamath Dam Removal
    The world’s largest dam removal project began on Northern California’s Klamath River this year, as construction crews successfully removed Copco 2. The Klamath River Renewal Corp is progressing according to schedule, “Once drawdown is complete, restoration and deconstruction activities will begin in earnest. All three dams are expected to be completely removed by November 2024, while restoration activities will continue for years to come to ensure restoration success.”

  3. Striped Bass Emergency Action then Five Consecutive years of poor recruitment
    In 2022, recreational striped bass anglers nearly doubled the amount of bass they harvested, which destroyed the probability that the stock will rebuild by 2029. So, in Spring of 2023, the management body took an unprecedented emergency action to constrain recreational harvest of a critical year-class. Unfortunately, later in 2023, we learned that striped bass experienced a fifth consecutive year of failed spawns in the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay.

    Captain Paul Dixon Striped Bass
    Captain Paul Dixon is a Board Member of the American Saltwater Guides Association, the predominant voice for Striped Bass c.onservation
  4. Bridge Collapse Sends Hazardous Materials into the Yellowstone RiverOn Saturday June 25th, Twin Bridges in between Reed Point and Columbus, MT collapsed sending a portions of a freight train into the Yellowstone River. According to reporting, the train was carrying hazardous materials, including molten asphalt and sulfur. State authorities and volunteers immediately assisted in the mitigation and clean up work.
  5. Construction Begins for “Crown Jewel” of Everglades Restoration
    The Everglades Agriculture Area is the single-most important project to restoring the Everglades and the natural southerly flow of water. “Our community of supporters across the country is celebrating this momentous occasion,” said Capt. Daniel Andrews, Executive Director of Captains For Clean Water. “Following Governor DeSantis’ bold leadership to expedite the STA, we applaud the Army Corps’ diligence to break ground on the EAA Reservoir—the keystone project of the largest ecosystem restoration project in the world. Countless groups and individuals work tirelessly to drive Everglades restoration forward, and today, our efforts are rewarded as we get to celebrate this shared win for clean water and America’s Everglades.”
  6. Airflo Announces Fly Line Recycling Program
    Airflo not only makes the best fly lines on the planet but they are also leading the charge to reduce our impact on the environment. They have recently launched a one-of-a-kind recycling program where anglers can easily recycle old fly lines at their local fly shops. To us, it doesn’t matter if it is not economically viable,” said Jeff Wagner, Mayfly Outdoors CEO. “It is the right thing to do. It aligns with our values as a company and as a B-Corp.”
    Recycle Old Fly Lines with Airflo's Zero Waste Boxâ„¢ Recycling Program - Flylords Mag
  7. Costa Sunglasses Unveils The Marlin Fly Project!
    Towards the end of 2023, Costa released the Marlin Fly Project video, which documented the worlds first-ever marlin tagging project exclusively using fly fishing gear. “If you’re a fly angler who’s spent any amount of time on social media, chances are you have seen the awesome photos and ridiculous videos of the scene in Mag Bay,” said Costa’s Joe Gugino. “We wanted to find the best opportunity to learn as much as we could about them. We wanted to get satellite tags to have the most information possible, but satellite tags aren’t cheap!” Such a cool project combining stoke, pristine fisheries, and science!

There ya have it…some of the top conservation stories from 2023. I’m sure we missed some, both good and bad, but it was overall a pretty positive year. Without doubt, however, we as an industry, country, and humankind can continue doing better in 2024 to protect this planet and these fish we love chasing!

How to Get Involved with Trout Unlimited

12th Annual Cheeky Schoolie Tournament Another Huge Success–Raises $30,000 for Striped Bass Conservation

School of Fish–a Film about Bristol Bay, Salmon, and Those That Depend on Both


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.