Clear, Clean Water for Fishing


Sign the Petition

Garden Canyon River, AZ | © Arizona Office of Tourism
Steve White on Crystal Creek | © Scott Bosse

Our Waters Are Connected

I strongly support the administration relying on this science report to inform and advance rulemaking to protect these streams and wetlands as “Waters of the United States” that deserve the protection of the Clean Water Act.

When we at American Rivers talk about rivers, we often talk about connections: connections people feel to their favorite river, connections between communities along a river’s path, and in a broader sense, connections among all of us who depend upon them (which is just about everyone). “Rivers connect us” is on our logo and speaks to a basic appeal that rivers have. For me, there’s another connection that matters: the one between clear, clean flowing water and a love of fishing.

The connection starts when I first see a river. As I approach from above (either walking down a canyon or mountain path), a free-flowing stream shines in the sunlight with flashes of silver that move around on its surface. Getting closer, if it’s running clear and clean, the riverbed comes into view and gives the river its color. In Appalachia, this is the deep brown that comes from the yearly cycle of falling leaves. Out west, there is more of a blue tint, reflecting the bright sky. All of this leads to the anticipation of what’s next.

Most of my fishing is what’s called “wet wading,” which means bare-legged or wading without waders. Stepping in, the combination of cool and wet is more of an invitation than anything else. It gives the feeling of being baptized, and there’s a cleansing feeling to this, as well.

Then as I start to fish, managing the line in the currents and getting the fly to drift in a natural way, the river’s clear water is so much a part of the experience that it can’t be separated.  Being able to see through the riffles to the structures and holding locations brings me closer to what I’m looking for and how to make it happen. If you quiet your eyes to see past the surface and are really lucky, gradually a trout may show himself, holding in the current.

And finally, as I bring in a firm, healthy trout, reaching down into the cool water, releasing it, and watching it swim away across the rocky riverbed, all of this is possible only because of the clear, clean water.

In a purely natural world, clean, clear streams just happen. It’s a miracle, but they do. But with constant threats from development, pollution, mining, drilling, and other sources, they need restoration if they’ve been damaged and protection if not.

For many of the small streams and wetlands that provide habitat for fish I love to catch, protection has come from the Clean Water Act, passed years ago. However, this protection is no longer a given after two recent Supreme Court decisions. This week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is publicly reviewing a draft report that brings together the scientific connections between small streams, wetlands, and downstream waters. The science underscores the need to protect these precious waters.

How Can You Help?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently put forward a draft rule to clarify the scope of the Clean Water Act for interagency review. Please sign the petition to the right to add your support to the use of strong science to inform the rulemaking. We hope you’ll add your voice and thank you for continuing your connection to our rivers.