SRTU December Meeting Minutes

Minutes of SRTU meeting held at Rania’s Restaurant in uptown Martinsville on Thursday, December 7, 2017, at 6:30 pm

Meeting called to order by SRTU President Doug Jessie

Twenty three members and guests present

Reading of previous minutes suspended in the interest of saving time – minutes previously posted on chapter Website / Facebook page and emailed to folks on secretary’s distribution list.

Treasurer Roy Ford reports our check book at the beginning of last quarter was 1,929.36  We spent $62.27 on food for the river cleanup and Fish with a Friend.  We received $72.00 from raffles and $0.98 interest. Check book balance as of December 7, 2017   $1939. 97

Old Business:

SRTU President Doug Jessie gave a quick review of the more significant activities the chapter was involved with during the past year. In addition to regular quarterly meetings, each of which had a different theme such as fly tying (March); warm water fishing (June) and aquatic insects (September) we planned and participated in the following:

Two planned items were canceled due to the uncertainty of water flows while the COE continued repairs at Philpott Dam or lack of interest/participation. These included our annual “Fish, Lying & Tying” @ Bassett Cabin and a Group Fishing Trip to the South Holston.

Anglers Choice Open House:  This was a Friday afternoon and all day Saturday affair. We set up a booth similar to what we do at Smith River Fest with a fly tying demo, casting demo and talked up SRTU. This was mostly a bass fishing crowd but we did get some exposure.

Group fishing/camping trip to Mt Rogers / Grayson Highland/ Grindstone campground area:  This has become an annual event.  Good food – fishing was so-so due to high water but still lots of fun. Don’t miss it next year.

Blue Ridge Heritage Veterans Trout Fishing Event: We assisted with this for the third year in a row.  Good fellowship and lots of nice fish taken home by our Vets.

Smith River Fest: We staffed a booth which demonstrated fly tying, casting demonstrations and talked up SRTU. We were adjacent to the booth staffed by volunteers from VDGIF.  Both drew a good crowd.

River Clean Up: This clean up came just before we showcased the Smith River Fishery and surrounding area to anglers who came to the region to participate in TU’s Annual Meeting held in Roanoke. We had a light turnout but there is also less and less trash which is a good thing. We took our cleanup crew to Papa’s Pizza for lunch.

TU Annual Meeting – Roanoke.  This was a major event with TU leaders and fishermen coming from all over the United States. SRTU President Doug Jessie had a major role in helping to organize this event.  Many attendees came early to fish local waters. Our chapter hosted 25 or more on the Smith River. Everyone caught fish – some more than others, but everyone reported having a good time. Special thanks to the US Army Corps of Engineers for adjusting the flows so that everyone could wade safely.

Fish with a Friend & Cookout:  This was lightly attended but the fishing was very good. We ended up at Papa’s Pizza for lunch. A few members and their guests hit the water again in the afternoon – At least one “newbie” is now a firm believer in the Smith River Fishery.

VDGIF Sampling of the Smith River below Martinsville Dam continues using their inflatable raft. They also sampled the pool upstream from Martinsville Dam using a jet boat. . A few members of SRTU accompanied them. Nice fish were seen throughout areas sampled. Sampling of the upper river was not possible this past year because flows were too low for the raft and too fast for safe wading. Now that Philpott is returning to a more normal schedule DGIF hopes to sample the entire river in 2018

New Business:

Election of SRTU Leadership for calendar year 2018 – In accordance with the chapter by-laws Doug Jessie, our current chapter president, is term limited out after serving for 3 consecutive years. After much discussion followed by a lot of silence Joe May stepped forward to offer his service as chapter president – thank you Joe.  The remaining chapter officers (VP, treasurer and secretary) could remain but announced they would gladly step aside if someone volunteered to take their place. No one else expressed a willingness to serve therefore a motion was put to vote and with unanimous consent the 2018 elected leaders are: President Joe May, VP Eric Tichay, Treasurer Roy Ford and Secretary Al Kittredge.

Doug Jessie who deserves our applause and deep appreciation for his outstanding leadership the past 3 years will now join the SRTU Board Of Directors. The BOD will meet in early January to plan the agenda for 2018

Philpott Operations Manager Chris Powell gave us an update on repairs being done at the dam. They have recently resumed a weekday generation schedule with one turbine.  The other turbine was damaged beyond repair and will eventually be replaced with new technology – but that is several years down the road. With a single turbine we should anticipate longer periods of generation to utilize the water at 650 -700 cfs vs. the previous two turbines at 1400 cfs. The one remaining turbine must be manually switched on/off vs. the previous remote switching.  Mr. Powell stated Philpott is what is known in the industry as a “peak power facility” and Dominion Power, the current purchaser tries to maximize the value of each gallon of water which goes through the turbine. With the prolonged Monday through Friday generation and manual on/off switching requirement, there are currently no plans for weekend generation – this topic may be revisited next summer to keep water temperatures within tolerance for the fishery.

Meeting Theme and Feature Presentation:

George Palmer, VDGIF Fisheries Biologist gave his annual “Health of the Smith River Fishery” presentation. Water flows have been messed up due to work at Philpott Dam but VDGIF has been sampling below Martinsville Dam using a raft followed by “work up crews” in canoes. They also sampled the Doe Run section using a jet boat. They have not been able to sample upstream of Koehler because flows have not been enough to float the raft but are too much for safe wading.

Overall they have been finding a lot of healthy looking fish. Several fish have gone well beyond the 20 inch mark. The fishery below Martinsville Dam continues to show promise. VDGIF has been fin clipping and moving small fish from the upper river to the lower river and a lot of them are now showing significant growth. They have also been stocking several thousand triploid (sterile) fingerling brown trout which are now showing up in the samples.

DGIF has been monitoring water temperatures. This summer with the low flows and prolonged hot days there were several times when the water was above 70 degrees. There were no reports of “fish kills” but it certainly stresses the fish.

The fish collected this year were fewer in numbers – not sure if this means the numbers are declining or that the fish had moved deeper or into areas not accessible by the sampling raft which moves right along and gets only one pass over a promising area.

George did quote one factoid which most of us were not aware of – based on data on 2-8 year old fish collected below the Martinsville Dam a fish we see today has a 43% annual morality rate. In layman’s language that means 100 fish today will only number 57 next year,  32.5 the following year and 18.5 the next and so on. No wonder fish lay thousands of eggs when they spawn or the hatchery stocks thousands of fingerlings annually.

No one knows for sure what the prolonged flows and increased sediment has done to the fishery but George is optimistic – next year’s samples should prove interesting.  The Smith River has a high density of Brown Trout and is rightfully considered a “Jewel” in the Virginia inventory of trout fishing rivers.

Events during the remainder of the year include: None, however the leadership will meet shortly after the New Year to come up with a proposed agenda / calendar of events for 2018

 Swap Table: Nothing on the swap table, however Al Kittredge brought in several bags of feathers to distribute to local fly tyers. These feathers were donated by Ben Crouch – thanks Ben.

If you have not participated in the swap table you may be missing out. Bring what you want to sell or trade. Slap your name and a price on it and recycle the stuff you don’t use or need. Look around for those “it was a good idea at the time” purchases you made but now reside in the back of your closet or garage. Be ready to haggle. Bring some extra cash and walk away with some neat “I need one of those” items!

Raffle:  Fly box filled with “Smith River Specials” won by John Abadie

Next regular meeting will be on Thursday, March 1, 2018  Topic TBA

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