Big things just keep happening at Chickamauga Lake.
Last week, the 36,240-acre Tennessee River impoundment hosted a Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open, with John Cox winning the pro division and Darrell Davis landing an 11-pound, 5-ounce largemouth that ranks as the biggest bass caught in a B.A.S.S. event this year.
Now the lake is about to play host to the largest field in the 50-year tournament history of B.A.S.S.
The Costa Bassmaster High School Southern Open presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods is scheduled for Saturday, with takeoff at 6:40 a.m. ET from Blue Water Resort. The weigh-in is set for 2:40 p.m. at Dayton City Boat Dock, with a massive field of 416 boats.
With two anglers and a team captain or coach in each boat, more than 1,200 participants will be on the water. The previous record for tournament field size was 332 boats, set last April in a High School Open on Lake Guntersville.
“The overwhelming popularity of high school fishing just keeps shining through in these events,” said Hank Weldon, B.A.S.S. College and High School Series senior manager. “We’re talking about an incredible field — and they’ll be on an incredible fishery, which we saw with last week’s Open.
“It’s going to be a really exciting moment for the sport.”
Spawning bass played a major role in last week’s event at Chickamauga. Cox fished exclusively for bedding fish to catch his three-day total of 68-3, weighing in daily limits of 22-6, 25-7 and 20-6.
Saturday’s event is one of four High School Opens that qualify student anglers for the Costa Bassmaster High School Championship presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, which will be held on Kentucky Lake in June. The Western High School Open on Lake Oroville, California, also is being held Saturday. In addition to top anglers in the Opens, the highest-finishing competitors in state championships and sanctioned high school team trails also are invited to the High School Championship.
The FWC’s Python Pickup Program is an incentive program designed to encourage the public to remove Burmese pythons from the Everglades ecosystem and report locations to the FWC. Anyone can participate, and people who submit proof of python with location of removal will be entered into the monthly prize drawing as well as a grand prize drawing in 2018.
Monthly prizes include snake hooks, custom engraved Yeti tumblers, Plano sportsman’s trunks, GoPro cameras and Badlands backpacks, and the grand prize is a Florida Lifetime Sportsman’s License!
You can submit pythons as part of the Python Pickup Program that have been removed from any property in Florida where you have authorization to do so from the land manager or land managing agency. This includes private lands, the Commission-managed lands listed below, and other public lands. On private lands, pythons can be humanely euthanized at any time with landowner permission - no permit required- and the FWC encourages people to remove pythons from private lands whenever possible.
The FWC allows pythons to be removed from 22 Commission-managed lands (listed below) without a permit except on those portions of the areas posted as “Closed to Public Access.” People may seek authorization to remove pythons from other public lands on their own.
Pythons and other nonnative reptiles may be taken without a permit or hunting license at any time throughout the year, except by use of traps or firearms (unless provided for by specific area regulations) on the following Commission-managed Wildlife Management Areas, Public Small Game Hunting Areas (SGAs) and Wildlife and Environmental Areas. Do not enter areas posted as “Closed to Public Access.”
Want to earn big bucks? Tell the state of Michigan how to keep Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes and possibly decimating the sport fishery there.
The state has allocated $1 million for the global competition, with most of it going toward a prize for the best idea. The rest will be used to publicize and initiate the campaign, expected to begin this summer.
"Somebody out there possibly could have a really good idea," said Joanne Foreman of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. "Maybe they're not in fisheries or hydro-engineering."
Mary Flanagan with the Alliance for the Great Lakes added, "I think in the fight against Asian carp, there aren't really any bad ideas. We have to try a bunch of different things."
As silver and bighead carp spawn ever closer to Lake Michigan, the last barriers of defense are electronic barriers, but they are iffy at best. Officials fear that smaller fish could pass through them in the wakes of barges. Additionally, the best way to prevent invasion, closing the manmade connection between the Great Lakes and the Illinois River, almost certainly never will happen because of opposition from Illinois, Indiana, and power commercial navigation interests. Finally, the federal government, both under Barack Obama and Donald Trump, seems to see no urgency in developing a plan to keep the carp out.
All the other Great Lakes states, meanwhile, have pressed for years for an effective solution, with about $388 million spent since 2010, mostly by the feds. Those states have good reason to be concerned, too, as sport fishing in the Great Lakes region is worth about $7 billion annually. Michigan's tourism industry alone is valued at about $38 billion, with much of it focused on the outdoors.
Photos copyright Robert Montgomery