Increasing angler pressure has prompted the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to propose catch-and-release regulations for largemouth and smallmouth bass on a portion of the Devils River, which feeds into Lake Amistad from the north.
“The pressure has increased over the last 10 to 15 years,” TPWD's Ken Kurzawski said. “In 2013, we began requiring access permits from any TPWD property. In the first year, we had 780 permits. This year, we expect at least 1,300.”
“What we are proposing in January is to institute catch-and-release for largemouth and smallmouth bass on the Devils from Baker’s Crossing to Big Satan Creek, a distance of 38 miles,” he added. “This is where the river becomes wider and more lake-like. It is the downstream boundary of the state natural area.”
The biologist added that smallmouth have been increasing in the river, while the overall size of largemouth has declined.
If the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approves the regulation, it then would be open for public comment, with implementation possible in September 2017.
One of the most remote and unspoiled waterways in Texas, the Devils is part of the Rio Grande drainage. It is fed by numerous clear springs in the region's karst topography, which includes rugged ridges, canyons, and grassy banks. While it features white water, a portion also flows underground, where gravel, sand, and limestone filter to help maintain high water quality.
TPWD's Devils River State Natural Area consists of 37,000 acres in two units, including the original 20,000-acre portion called Del Norte and newly acquired 17,000-acre Dan A. Hughes Unit. Del Norte offers primitive camping, mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking, and camping, as well as fishing. It also features a group barracks that can accommodate up to10 people.
The three presidents who enjoyed fishing the most were probably Grover Cleveland, Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter. Cleveland and Hoover wrote books— Cleveland’s “Fishing and Shooting Sketches” (1906) and Hoover’s “Fishing for Fun— and to Wash Your Soul” (1963)—extolling the virtues and healthful benefits of fishing.
(This is according to the White House Historical Association. Several others also fished, including Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and both Bushes. The elder President Bush told the media that "Bassmaster" was his favorite publication. Check out this piece about him, "A Kinder, Gentler Angler," at Bassmaster.com)
During his presidency, Cleveland fished in the Adirondacks of upstate New York and later used a summer home south of Boston near Cape Cod.
Shielded from the prying eyes of press and public by woods, fields and water, Cleveland had the privacy he wanted to enjoy family life and practice his favorite sport.
His friend Richard Watson Gilder noted: “His fishing … excursions, while entered upon with appetite, were also considered by him a duty; for it was only on these little vacations that he was able to obtain … exercise, and release from mental strain.”
Cleveland was so serious about fishing that he once snapped at a friend whose mind appeared to be wandering from the task at hand: “If you want to catch fish, attend strictly to business!”
Hoover developed a devotion to fishing during his boyhood in Iowa, fishing for catfish or sunfish on the small Wapsinonoc River in his hometown of West Branch.
As president he liked few things better than casting for trout at his presidential retreat on the Rapidan River in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, some 100 miles from Washington.
Rapidan Camp lay 2,550 feet above sea level and provided a refreshing difference to the humidity-laden air of Washington. Just three days after the 1930 Virginia fishing season opened Hoover hurried from the White House to his Rapidan retreat and was attired in hoop boots in the Rapidan River fishing by 6 in the evening. He caught some fish and the camp cook broiled them for a dinner enjoyed by guests including the White House Physician Dr. Joel T. Boone, and Commerce secretary Robert Lamont, Attorney General William Mitchell and Interior secretary Ray Lyman Wilbur.
As president, Carter fished in Alaska and at the Four Lazy F Ranch near Jackson, Wyoming.
He also loved to go to Spruce Creek, a tributary of the Little Juniata River in Pennsylvania, to fly-fish. Spruce Creek was easily accessible from the presidential retreat at Camp David in Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains. Carter fished at Spruce Creek for the first time in May 1979 and returned there often, forming a close friendship with Wayne Harpster, who owned the farm through which three miles of Spruce Creek flows.
Carter described a typical experience in his diary in 1980: “[June 13] [sons] Chip, Jack and I went by Camp David, picked up our fishing gear, and took off for Spruce Creek. We fished until 10:00 at night, just knocking off briefly for supper. . . [June 14] We were on the creek at 5:15 in the morning and fished until about 4:00 in the afternoon.”
Carter once told a press conference: “I have a rare opportunity to go fishing — to get out in the woods and swamps and in the fields and on the streams by myself. I really believe that it’s not only good for me but for the country to be able to do that on occasion. I wish I could do it more, but I don’t intend to ignore any opportunity to take advantage of a fishing trip when my own work permits it. And I hope the press will understand and the people will understand that I, like the average American, need some recreation, at times.”
Excerpt from the White House Historical Assocation article "The President's Catch of the Day."
It's not much to look at. In fact, it's impossible to see without a microscope.
But for the first time in a decade, an exotic aquatic species has been found in the Great Lakes. That makes 185 or 186 non-native species, depending on who's counting, now established in the basin. Some, including the lamprey and alewife, migrated up the St. Lawrence Seaway, but most, including the zebra mussel as well as this latest, probably were introduced via ballast water from ocean-going ships.
Thermocyclops crassus, a type of zooplankton, was discovered in water samples taken from Lake Erie by limnology technician Joe Connolly of Cornell University.
“It’s kind of like looking for a needle in a haystack,” Connolly said. “I didn’t know what it was, but I knew it wasn’t something we’d seen before.”
He found both male and female specimens in low numbers, but enough to say that an established population exists of the invertebrate that is native to Europe, Asia, and Australia. Officials from both the U.S. and Canada have planned more sampling to determine how widespread this new invader is and what its impact may be.
“We don’t know enough yet about what this species could or could not do in the Great Lakes,” said Elizabeth Hinchey Malloy, an environmental scientist with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Size isn't an indicator of impact, as the zebra mussel, a fingernail-sized shellfish, and the round goby, a small bottom-dwelling fish, have proven.
Confirmed in 2006, the bloody red shrimp was the last previously discovered invader. It now swarms in excess of 135 individuals per square foot.
"The impact of this species on the Great Lakes is yet unknown, but based on its history of invasion across Europe, significant impacts are possible," said Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute. "The bloody red shrimp is an omnivore. Its diet includes waterfleas and algae. They may compete with young fish, while providing food for larger fish. The invasion of this species in some European reservoirs has been documented to accelerate silica cycling, resulting in blooms of diatoms and, in some cases, plating out of silica onto pipes."
If you like to fish and you enjoy reading about history, then The American Fisherman: How Our Nation's Anglers Founded, Fed, Financed, and Forever Shaped the U.S.A. is just the book for you. Written by Duck Dynasty's Willie Robertson and historian William Doyle and illustrated with 75 photos, it traces the significant, and often surprising, role that angling has played.
For example, in "The Fisherman Who Created America," find out how fish, saved Washington's Continental Army at Valley Forge from starvation, although actual events might not be as dramatic a "fish story" as originally believed. The "Greatest Fishing Trip of All," meanwhile, was Lewis and Clark's trip up the Missouri River, in the wake of the Louisiana Purchase. An Army private from Massachusetts, Silas Goodrich, even was brought along as an angling expert.
"We don't know where he picked up these skills," Robertson and Doyle wrote, "but as soon as they hit the water, he was reeling in fish all over the place," including "the men's favorite, catfish, some as huge as 100 pounds."
In this book, you also can learn about "the fish that won the last battle of the Civil War," the whaling era, and the golden age of sportfishing. The latter possibly is the most fascinating, as it traces development of the sport, both salt and freshwater, from Ernest Hemingway to Kevin VanDam.
Female anglers are recognized too, as are U.S. Presidents who fished. A final chapter documents the remarkable healing power of fishing.
Appendixes provide interesting reading as well, including an article by former President George H.W. Bush and another entitled "Great Moments in American Fishing."