My Facebook pages

Robert Montgomery

Why We Fish

Fish, Frogs, and Fireflies

Pippa's Canine Corner 

 

 

Loading..
Loading..
(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});
Loading..
Loading..
(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});
Loading..
Loading..
(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});
Loading..
Loading..
(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});
Get Updates! and Search
No RSS feeds have been linked to this section.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday
Aug222017

Tuesday
Aug222017

Guntersville Showing Promise Again

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. --- A recent seine survey has guide Mike Carter and his Lake Guntersville Conservation Group rethinking their desire to get up to 100,000 Florida-strain hybrid bass stocked in the fishery that has shown decline in recent years.

“I think it's going to get back to being fantastic again," he said after watching biologists with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) check several sites for young-of-the-year bass.

" We've been in that downward cycle there for a while and a lot of people have struggled, but seeing the numbers that they came up with last year and now the numbers that came up yesterday, it seems there's a lot more promise than I even expected,” Carter said.

An average haul is 6 to 10 fish per set. But this spring, it averaged 20.

"The biologists just pretty much at random waded out right next to the boat ramps with a little 20-foot seine net and they caught unbelievable numbers of baby bass," the guide added.

ACDNR said that high numbers two years in a row suggest that Guntersville has no problem with production and that the fishery should produce good numbers of quality bass in three to four years, as those fish reach maturity. During the past few years, angler reports and other data revealed good populations of large and yearling bass, but a scarcity of fish in the 3- to 5-pound range.

In the 2015 annual report from the Alabama Bass Anglers Information Team, a compilation of tournament results, Guntersville dropped 7 points in the Quality Indicator rankings, which considers such factors as number of bass caught per angler-day, pounds of bass caught per angler-day, average weight of bass caught, and hours required to catch a 5-pound bass.

Carter said that the conservation group still is interested in stocking 50,000 bass with Florida genes to help enhance growth rates.

Sunday
Aug202017

How and Why Weather Affects the Bite

This is an excerpt from the "Weather" portion of my book, Better Bass Fishing. Of course, the book is written mostly for bass anglers, but this section --- as with many of the others --- can help you become a better angler in general by understanding the "big picture."

Generally moving from west to east, areas of high and low pressure determine our weather.

As high pressure moves in, winds tend to blow clockwise and away from the center. Weather within the center of a high-pressure area features clear sky, dry air, little or no wind, and cooler temperatures. Especially during fall and winter, high pressure brings sunny, blue-bird skies, cold winds, and poor fishing.

With the approach of a low-pressure area, the wind blows counter clockwise and toward the center. Weather within the center of a low-pressure area features cloudy sky, high humidity, light winds, steadier temperatures, and possibly precipitation. Fishing almost always is better under these conditions.

Changes occur as one type of pressure is pushed out by another. A low pressure area moving in typically brings unstable weather and falling barometric pressure. Falling pressure, anglers know, typically coincides with better fishing.

But maybe not for the reason that many believe. Some think that high pressure makes fish uncomfortable, which is why they don’t bite well upon the arrival of fair weather and a rising barometer. They also believe that falling pressure prompts fish to become more active.

Actually, what probably happens is that falling pressure allows plankton and tiny invertebrates to become more buoyant and float upward. This makes them easier prey for shad and minnows. The increased activity of these forage species, in turn, triggers bass and other game fish to feed.

Or, falling pressure simply might be an indicator of more favorable conditions overall, according to Bob Ponds, a former professional angler who worked as a radar specialist and supervisor for the U.S. Air Force and the National Weather Service.

“If you have falling pressure, you’re going to have high humidity and clouds. It will be darker and the fish will stray out farther from where they have been hiding and they will bite better,” he says. “Barometric pressure doesn’t affect how fish bite so much as it indicates conditions that affect how they will bite.” 

This book is available at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. But it often is sold out at Amazon.

Wednesday
Aug162017

Largemouth Stocked as Smallmouth Killed at Elkhead Reservoir

The war on bass in the West has taken a conciliatory turn in Colorado, at least. Responding to public outcry at the possible loss of the warmwater fishery in Elkhead Reservoir, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and volunteers with boats stocked 120 largemouth bass, weighing 3 to 6 pounds each, during June.  

Earlier in the year, 125,000 fry were added to the fishery in northwest Colorado, while 680 yearlings were released in 2016, the first bass legally stocked in the fishery since the 1980s.

"We are increasing stocking for more opportunities for anglers to catch alternative species in place of the species that we are trying to reduce for downstream management," said CPW biologist Tory Ayre.

Meanwhile, CPW also sponsored a June 24-July 2 tournament, offering financial incentives for anglers to remove as many smallmouth bass and northern pike from the Yampa River impoundment as possible.

What's going on? Why stock largemouth bass and kill smallmouth? Resource managers believe that the latter and pike escape over the spillway and threaten recovery of four federally endangered species: humpback chub, bonytail, Colorado pikeminnow and razorback sucker. CPW is mandated by law to protect those native fish.

Initially, biologists considered poisoning the 900-acre reservoir and restocking with more desirable species. But opposition from local anglers convinced them to take another approach, which includes a net across the spillway, an annual "kill tournament" for smallmouth and pike, and stocking with largemouth, bluegill, and crappie.

"It's great, we appreciate the CPW's help," said volunteer Norm Fedde. "We know they are for the sportsmen, but the federal government is not."

For the week-long tournament, which has no entry fee, CPW tagged one smallmouth bass and one pike, each worth $1,500. Additionally, the agency gave $750 each to the anglers who caught the most of each species, as well as a variety of daily prizes.

To the south, meanwhile, CPW sponsored the third annual "kill" tournament for smallmouth bass July 7-30 at Ridgway Reservoir in Ridgway State Park. The fish were illegally introduced there about a decade ago, and also pose a risk of escaping into rivers to threaten native species.

"A primary mission of Colorado Parks and Wildlife is to work to sustain native species," said John Alves, senior aquatic biologist for CPW's Southwest Region. "Colorado's anglers contribute significantly to our work and we greatly appreciate their support in helping us to maintain the state's fisheries."

Monday
Aug142017

Anglers Paying More to Access Public Waters

Fishermen don't like paying fees to launch their boats, park their vehicles, and participate in tournaments at public facilities on public waters. Even more, they don't like that those fees are increasing in places where they've already been established and being added in locations that once were cost-free.

As  Harvey Craft has learned, however, mostly all anglers want to do is complain about it. For years the Tennessee man who calls Percy Priest his home water has been trying to get fishermen and clubs to speak out in protest at being charged fees to use facilities that were paid for with taxpayer dollars.

But they're "not interested in doing a letter-writing campaign or anything else," he said. "They're willing to either pay the money or go to a (another) public ramp and just take their chances of hopefully not being broken into. Mainly, they just complain to each other."

Media and politicians aren't especially interested either, he said, with the latter adding that there's little they can do about it.

Although Craft had noted costs going up on other waters, what finally stirred him to action was new ownership at Four Corners Boat Dock on Percy Priest, a Corps of Engineers impoundment, which started charging $5 to launch. Now, it's $8.

Additionally, he said, "We've watched 50 to 60 spaces for vehicles/trailers reduced to 13."

Over on Norris Lake, a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) reservoir, an angler on the East Tennessee Fishing Forum was complaining about a $20 launch fee at Stardust Marina nearly eight years ago.

 "Many of the marina operators are shunning local folks, especially fishermen," he said. "They say fishermen don't spend money and they really don't want us. Some of the marinas don't even allow public launch at all."

On Kerr Lake, also known as Buggs Island, the Corps charges non-profit fishing tournaments $25 for under 25 boats, $50 for 26-100 boats, and $75 for more than 100 "to cover costs incurred by the Corps." For-profit competitors must pay $75 regardless of the size of the event on this fishery that straddles the Virginia-North Carolina border. Additionally, each vehicle using a Corps launch ramp must pay $5 per vehicle per day.

"By this point, I assume it will take many folks writing or calling their elected officials in Washington to get this stopped," Craft said.

Sorry to say, I don't think even that will stop it. The sad reality is that the recreational facilities built on Corps- and TVA-managed land require maintenance. Faced with cutting down on their own operating costs to stay within budget or closing public access areas, these agencies have turned over management of marinas, and their associated launch ramps and parking spaces, to commercial operators. The latter are in business to make a profit, and they also have maintenance costs.

"The Corps has allowed marina operators to charge a launching fee since 1993, just as the Corps has authorization by public law to charge a launching fee at its launching ramps," said Corps spokesperson Carolyn Bauer.

"The ramps, roads, and parking at the marina were constructed at federal taxpayer expense. However, ongoing maintenance is the responsibility of the marina operator. The docks and other structures were constructed at the marina operator's expense."

For TVA, it's much the same. "Commercial marina and campground operators can choose to charge for the use of their ramps or include a fee for the ramp use in their camping/marina fees," said Jim Hopson, manager of public relations. "This helps reimburse the commercial marinas for the capital improvements they make."

In sympathizing with Craft, Michael Butler, CEO of the Tennessee Wildlife Federation, pointed out that this arrangement is win-win for the agency and the vendors who operate the facilities, "but the public gets screwed."

He added, "Personally, I think this is something that is a deterrent to more use, especially by tourists and others that can bring money into the state and into rural communities to support our economy."

What, then, is the solution for Craft, who is willing to speak out, and the millions of other anglers, who aren't?

Possibly the Corps and TVA should cede management and/or ownership of public access areas to those states willing to accept them. Almost certainly they would be more interested than are federal agencies and commercial vendors in the happiness of their angling constituencies, as well as in keeping costs down to attract business and help local economies.

Realistically, though, even under state management of these areas, fishermen are going to have to pay to play on Corps and TVA impoundments. That's just the way it is.