Conservation News

Submitted by Dennis Davie

A Popular Hashtag Evolves Into a Website Promoting the Next Level of Catch-and-Release Fishing.

Thankfully, the notion of catch-and-release has caught on and become highly practiced by a large percentage of anglers. While releasing a fish you don't intend on harvesting is the right thing to do, when you keepemwet, you're taking conservation one step further. Bryan Huskey of Boise, Idaho took it upon himself to create a platform with the intention of spreading this message to the masses - is live.
A passionate angler/photographer/film maker, Huskey enjoys capturing images of his days on the water as much as anybody else and by no means was Keepemwet designed to deter anglers from doing the same. Plain and simple, Keepemwet was created to promote better, more respectful fish handling.
The notion of Keepemwet began in 2010 when Huskey was asked to speak at a Boise Fly Fishing Club about taking better fish photos. "I put together a slide show and one of the slides was titled Keepem Wet" says Huskey. "Honestly, my point was that keeping a fish in the water automatically lends itself to more unique angles that result in more dynamic photography. Plus, the fish itself just looks so much better when wet. They're glossier and their colors are more vibrant - they just look better. Of course, there is the obvious bonus - it's so much better for the fish."
Years later, Huskey created an Instagram account and would cringe at photos depicting fish laying on a dry bank, boat deck or other compromising handling positions. "I never wanted to come across as preachy but in my photography, I did want to highlight the importance of keeping fish wet and proper handling." Huskey's subtle way of emphasizing this message was to begin implementing the hashtag #keepemwet in his posts. "It was kind of crazy, I started using the tag and began seeing others use it. Before long, the tag really had some legs." says Huskey. "In the early stages it was kind of a running joke. Somebody would have a fish on and sarcastically say 'Keepemwet'. The thing is, whether it was a sarcastic joke or not, the awareness was there."
Once the tag had traction, long time fishing buddy Paul Moinester who has a background in web design approached Huskey about teaming up to really define what Keepemwet could be. "After chatting with Paul, the next thing I knew, we were kicking around different logos, going through the trademark process, creating stickers and all that kind of stuff."
Last week, Simms received a message from Huskey and Paul informing us was live. We proudly support their efforts and the initiative. The content/practices published on Keepemwet are not assumption based but instead backed up by scientific fact. "Paul and I are not scientists but Andy Danylchuk is." says Huskey. "It's easy for us to say what we think is best for the fish but when it comes down to it, we wanted to have an actual scientist on board to help provide the most valid information possible. Andy's insight and knowledge has been invaluable for what we are trying to accomplish. Science aside, the principles to Keepemwet are pretty simple and begin as soon as a fish eats. After hooking a fish, fight it aggressively and bring it to hand or net as fast as possible. From there, minimize air exposure, eliminate contact with dry surfaces and reduce physical handling. By doing these things, you are taking the practice of catch-and-release to the next level."

Utahns Win Five-Year Battle for Stream Access
From Fly Fisherman, November 5 issue

On Nov. 4, 2015, Judge Derek Pullan of Utah's 4th District Court ruled in favor the public's right to lawfully access and recreate on Utah's public rivers and streams.
The ruling culminates a lawsuit filed by the Utah Stream Access Coalition in 2010, which sought to declare the "Public Waters Access Act" unconstitutional. The ignominiously named Act, contrary to its title, removed of the public's right to use over 2,700 miles of Utah's rivers and streams, many miles of which have benefited from publicly-funded habitat and stream bank restoration, flood abatement, and other projects. The lawsuit named as defendants the State of Utah and Victory Ranch, a Wasatch County development selling luxury home sites offering exclusive access to more than four miles of the Provo River, one of Utah's premier blue ribbon trout fisheries.
"This is a case where policy triumphed over profits; where law prevailed over lobbying" Coalition President Kris Olson said. "The rivers and streams of our state are gifts of providence, and the lifeblood of this arid land. Since before statehood, these rivers have been used by all, and we're grateful that the Court prevented that use from becoming exclusive to a privileged few."
In the 61-page decision, Judge Pullan noted that the Act served no trust or greater public purpose and substantially impaired the public's interest in the resource that remains, that is, the waters and streams of Utah. The Court observed that "Every parcel of public land, every reach of public water is unique. If Wasatch, Kodachrome Basin, and Snow Canyon State Parks were disposed of - the public's right to recreate in other places would be of little consolation."
In the ruling the Court prohibits Victory Ranch from any action which 'prohibits, prevents, impedes, limits or impairs the public's right to access the Upper Provo River where it flows through VRA’s property,' and prohibits the State of Utah from enforcing the restrictions provided in the Act.
A coalition newsletter says the decision is likely "only one more step toward resolution. While we have won both (the Weber and Provo) cases at the district court level, we still anticipate two appeals to the Utah Supreme Court."
To join the coalition or to make a donation, visit This is the single-most important issue facing the fly fishers of Utah and the entire nation is watching. If state government is able to hand the rivers of Utah over to private interests, then other states are more likely to follow suit and succeed.

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