“I have fished through fishless days that I remember happily without regret.” Roderick Haig-Brown
There's a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot. Steven Wright
“The finest gift you can give to any fisherman is to put a good fish back, and who knows if the fish that you caught isn’t someone else’s gift to you?”
“Three-fourths of the Earth's surface is water, and one-fourth is land. It is quite clear that the good Lord intended us to spend triple the amount of time fishing as taking care of the lawn.” Chuck Clark
“Calling fishing a hobby is like calling brain surgery a job.” Paul Schullery
There he stands, draped in more equipment than a telephone lineman, trying to outwit an organism with a brain no bigger than a breadcrumb, and getting licked in the process. Paul O'Neil
Changes to bass regulations have been made for Braunig, Calaveras, O.H. Ivie, and Nasworthy by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).
At Braunig and Calaveras, the 18-inch minimum is changed to the statewide 14-inch, while daily bag limit remains at five fish.
“Since 1999, few bass 18 inches and larger have been collected in department electrofishing samples,” TPWD said. “In recent surveys of anglers, only 4 to 5 percent of angling effort was expended for bass at both reservoirs, and angler catch rates were poor. The 18-inch limit did not improve angling in the reservoirs, and the proposed change is expected to have minimal impact on the bass populations or angling in either reservoir.”
At O.H. Ivie, the 18-inch minimum for smallmouth bass and three-fish daily bag is changed to the statewide 14-inch minimum and five-fish bag.
“Because abundance of smallmouth bass is low and the fishery minimal, the 18-inch limit on smallmouth bass has not been effective,” the agency said, adding that anglers have expressed the desire to keep incidentally caught smallmouths for tournament weigh-ins.
At Nasworthy, the 14-inch minimum is changed to a protected slot of 14 to 18 inches, while daily limit remains five.
“Local staff has made presentations to three San Angelo bass clubs about the bass growth problems and potential regulation changes, and these bass anglers support making a regulation change,” TPWD said. “They also expressed willingness to harvest fish under 14 inches if it would help the overall population.”
On Falcon, another popular bass fishery, the agency changed the daily bag limit of one alligator gar to five.
“Most Falcon anglers --- gar and non-gar anglers --- desire an increase in the daily bag limit,” TPWD explained.
Fisheries managers are hopeful that a significant die-off of larger smallmouth bass in spring of 2014 will not have a long-term impact on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River.
“Impacts from this year’s mortality/disease events on the Shenandoah were fairly heavy,” the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) revealed. “However, DGIF sampled the fish community in the fall of 2014 and found an abundance of 9- to 11-inch fish and a lot of very young smallmouth bass.
“Barring any future disease outbreaks, the 9- to 11-inch fish should grow into the 11- to 15-inch range over the next two years.”
But fisheries managers remain at a loss to explain what caused the death of an estimated 20 percent or more of adult smallmouth bass and redbreast sunfish and what contributed to lesions and other abnormalities on additional fish.
“Determining the cause of these mortality/disease events has proven to be extremely difficult,” VDGIF added. “Scientists have and continue to conduct in-depth studies on fish health, pathogens, water quality, and contaminant exposure, and recently have begun looking at possible toxins related to bacteria.”
Biologist Brad Fink said, “Things were looking pretty good from 2011 on, until we started getting reports from anglers that there weren’t as many fish.”
Spring mortality and disease events have occurred several times on the Shenandoah during the past decade, and also showed up on the Upper James River from 2007 to 2010. But they have been less common since 2010.
In 2014, VDGIF also noted affected fish on the North Fork of the Shenandoah, but the percentage was lower than on the South Fork. Additionally, the agency said, “Things were fairly quiet on the Cowpasture, Jackson, and Upper James River.”
The incidents have not been uniform in location or severity, with smallmouth bass, redbreast sunfish, and rock bass the species most vulnerable. Affected fish typically exhibit open sores or “lesions” on the sides of their bodies, while dead and dying fish often show no visible external abnormalities.
Here’s a look back at a die-off that began in 2003: Questions remain 10 years after Shenandoah River fish kill
As a recreational and/or tournament angler, do you want gill nets on Guntersville, Wheeler, Wilson, and Pickwick?
It could happen. The Alabama state House already has passed a bill to allow it on those Tennessee River impoundments, and now it is being considered by the state Senate Committee for Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry.
“That’s where we hope this anti-bass fishing legislation will end,” said BoatUS Government Affairs Senior Program Manager David Kennedy, “But recreational anglers need to speak up now.”
Alabama bass angler and BoatUS Program Coordinator Dustin King added, “Gill nets are designed to entangle paddlefish, catfish, and buffalo, but do not discriminate, and they would ruin our most prized bass fishery.”
And Frank Sergeant in the Huntsville Times said, "The idea of permitting gill nets in North Alabama's TVA lakes apparently has some appeal to somebody, otherwise it would not have been made into a bill, HB 258, and passed by the Alabama House of Representatives recently.
"But thousands of recreational fishermen (and women) as well as homeowners and fishing/boating/resort industry execs in the affected areas are pretty much universally opposed to bringing this highly effective gear to the river lakes, which include Lake Guntersville, frequently cited as one of the top bass fishing lakes in the nation.
"Not that the netters or the legislators who backed them propose to net bass commercially--state laws prohibit net harvest of gamefish. The targets would be shad, drum and other "rough fish" that some say are currently going to waste in the fertile waters of the big river.
"But one issue that must surely concern anglers is the fact that gill nets do not work well for catch and release in many cases. They're called "fish chokers" in saltwater, for good reason. They function via squares of mesh that slide over the head of a fish and then jam tight right behind the gill plates--they're locked in place.
"Getting a fish out of the mesh without killing it is not easy, particularly when it's being done rapidly and/or at night, both of which conditions often apply in net fishing because that's the nature of the fishery."
More from BoatUS:
Recreational fishing is an estimated $853 million industry in Alabamam according to a study commissioned by the Alabama Bass Trail (ABT) and completed by the University of Alabama at Huntsville. ABT operates dozens of tournaments across the state, and Executive Director Kay Donaldson said the proposed legislation would give mostly out-of-state commercial fishermen unfettered access to string nets in the Tennessee River and its tributaries, with no additional enforcement.
“The state is already stretched too thin on enforcing the laws on the books,” said Donaldson.
Kennedy continued, “When you look at the math, it simply doesn’t add up. The meager revenue gained by any new paddlefish commercial license fees wouldn’t even begin to offset the loss of the recreational fishery and those who make their living from it.
“There are also safety issues for all recreational boaters with the placement of nets, their impact on the bass spawning season, and other environmental concerns.”
Alabama anglers are urged to contact their state senators by going here.