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Robert Montgomery

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Thursday
Oct012015

TrophyCatch Boasts Nearly 3,000 Entries as Season Three Ends

As the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)  wraps up season three of TrophyCatch, nearly 3,000 trophy largemouth bass heavier than 8 pounds have been caught, documented, and released in Florida.

Thanks to TrophyCatch’s corporate partners, led by Bass Pro Shops, Phoenix Boats and Experience Kissimmee, anglers  reap rewards for taking time to document and release these fish so they may be caught again, as well as help FWC learn more about enhancing and sustaining the most popular fishery in the world.

Each angler who catches a bass weighing more than 8 pounds, documents the weight, and releases it alive is eligible to earn prizes, starting with $100 in gift cards from Bass Pro Shops, a custom certificate and decal, as well as other prizes. Check out TrophyCatchFlorida.com  to register, submit catches and review the rules and prizing details, which increase in value for larger bass. For most anglers, qualifying is as simple as taking a photo of the entire bass, head-to-tail, on a scale, so the weight can be seen and submitting it to the website. Tournament anglers also may participate by providing a link to official published results.

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Texas' ShareLunker Program begins 30th season

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“In season three alone, we documented more than 1,700 trophy-size bass caught and released in Florida to continue growing, spawning, and challenging anglers,” said Tom Champeau, director of the FWC’s Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management.

Included were 14 Hall of Fame bass, each weighing more than 13 pounds. Each of those 14 anglers will receive a hand-painted replica of his catch (a $500 value), as well as $200 in gift cards from Bass Pro Shops, and other prizes.

Although all bass must have been caught between Oct. 1, 2014, and Sep. 30, 2015, to be included in the season three competition, anglers have until Oct. 15 to get their catches submitted and approved. The annual champion will then be announced and the Championship Ring, provided by the American Outdoors Fund, will be presented. The current leader is Seth Chapman, who caught, documented, and released a 15-pound, 11-ounce Florida largemouth on March 15 in Kingsley Lake, Clay County. This is the same semi-private lake in Florida that yielded the season two champion bass.

Every angler who registers, free of cost, at TrophyCatchFlorida.com  is entered into an annual drawing for a $40,000 bass boat package. Phoenix boats donated a 619 Pro, powered by Mercury Marine, and equipped with a Power-Pole shallow-water anchoring system. In addition, every time an angler has a TrophyCatch verified and approved, he or she earns 10 more chances to win the boat.

Check out Facebook to see who the finalists are for this year’s random drawing and to learn when and where the boat will be given away.

“TrophyCatch has caught on with anglers from around the state and the world,” said K.P. Clements, TrophyCatch director. “We still have trophy bass that were caught and released but not documented because anglers did not have a suitable scale or camera to verify the weight, failed to get the required photograph, or didn’t yet know about the program. But we are finding out that more and more anglers are making sure they’re ready to document and submit their catch when they land a TrophyCatch-size bass.”

All of this activity helps achieve TrophyCatch goals, which are to preserve these valuable trophy fish, learn how to enhance their abundance, and promote recreational fishing.

Wednesday
Sep302015

Dead Fish, Dry Reservoir Show What Lies Ahead for California, Florida

Thousands of fish died suddenly when Mountain Meadows, a Northern California reservoir, "ran dry overnight."

"Residents say people were fishing on the lake last Saturday, but it drained like a bathtub overnight," reported CBS Sacramento.

Yes, some specific act--- possibly someone opening the dam--- drained the impoundment managed by Pacific Gas & Electric Company. But in truth, Mountain Meadows and many other California fisheries have been on the inevitable path to drying up for decades because of the state's unsustainable demand for water. And it's only going to get worse.

The same thing is going to happen in Florida, where unchecked development and growth soon will outweigh that state's finite supply of freshwater.  Yes, that state is surrounded by water on three sides, but it's salt water.  The lower half of the state is arid, as is the case for California, and far too many people require far too much water. They waste much of it too. For example, millions of gallons go to water grass, which never would there naturally.

"Waterfront" property in Clermont Chain in 2013, before lakes started to refill.

In Florida, the Clermont Chain provides a prime example of what is to come for the rest of the state. Right now, this central Florida waterway is back to near normal water levels.  But until this 15-lake system started to refill in the fall of 2014, the water level sank lower and lower for years. Local officials tried to blame drought, but residents, many of whom had lost their "waterfront" property, weren't buying that.  They blamed too many diversions, both legal and illegal.

“Clermont Bait & Tackle that was here for generations is gone now,” said Dave Burkhardt, who has lived on Lake Crescent for 27 years and is owner of Trik Fish line company.

“Guides are gone and so are marinas and boat businesses. Hundreds of people who are paying taxes for waterfront property don’t have water anymore.

“And yet this is supposed to be a highly protected system (officially designated an Outstanding Florida Water).”

Adding to the insanity in the Sunshine State, Florida Defenders of the Environment and other environmental groups continue to press for destruction of Rodman Reservoir, one of the state's top bass fisheries and most diverse ecosystems, because they hate the idea that it was manmade. It also happens to be one of the few impoundments in the state that could be used for water storage.

With a year of abundant rain and some of those diversions reportedly shut off, the Clermont Lake is back to near normal. But for how long? In Florida, developers still can basically do what they want when they want, meaning they can keep building more and more houses in areas where the water supply simply cannot sustain unlimited growth.

And which reservoir in California will be the next to run dry overnight, with thousands more fish dying, because of too many people, too many cities, too many farms and too little water?

Sunday
Sep272015

Gulf Red Snapper Fishing at Stake in Pending Lawsuit

There’s a lawsuit pending in the U.S. District Court in New Orleans that every recreational angler ought to be following like a hawk.
 
The case will decide whether public wildlife resources that rightly belong to all of us will instead be funneled into fewer and fewer hands -- and whether federal waters can be effectively walled off to private recreational anglers for the advantage of a tiny group of politically influential special interests.
 
NOAA Fisheries calls it “Amendment 40,” but it ought to be known as “Privatization 70,” because that’s what it does: if this scheme is allowed to stand, commercial fishing and charter boats will be handed a monopoly over more than 70 percent of the Gulf red snapper fishery, while recreational anglers are forced to watch from the docks.
 
Dysfunctional federal management has already resulted in a 10-day red snapper season these last two summers, down from 44 days the year before.
 
But it’s not just recreational anglers who are being short-changed.  More than 16,000 Americans owe their jobs to bait and tackle shops alone -- and that’s not even counting the big-box stores and chain retailers.  Altogether, the independent bait shops alone generate more than $796 million annually in payroll.
 
A red snapper season of just one weekend a year wreaks havoc on the Gulf economy, as everything from gas stations and motels to restaurants and tackle shops feels the impact. Unfortunately, nobody from NOAA took the time to evaluate the economic aftershocks.

What’s behind Amendment 40?  A lot of clever lawyering by the Environmental Defense Fund and their shill operations in the Gulf.  The unholy alliance: 387 commercial fishing operators; a handful of charter/for-hire operators, and a bunch of professional environmental lobbyists in Washington, D.C.  Coastal Conservation Association highlights the united front standing against us.
 
The white hats are fighting Amendment 40 in the U.S. District Court, and the State of Louisiana has recently weighed in with its support, filing an amicus brief in support of our position. 
 
A lot is at stake.  Stay tuned.  

From the Coastal Conservation Association 

Friday
Sep252015

Why We Fish: Waiting for the Blowup

 

And do you know what heightens anticipation even more? A big blowup and a near-miss from a bass that looks to weigh more than 10 pounds.

One extraordinary morning, that happened to me on consecutive casts to the same spot. Always the optimist, I put the lure there a third time, and this time I hooked the fish that just wouldn’t quit. It weighed 12 pounds.

What pleases me the most about that memory, though, isn’t that I caught --- and released --- that big bass. It’s vicariously enjoying again the anticipation and how it intensified with each cast and each near-miss.

I also can remember feeling almost unbearable anticipation as a child. Mostly it manifested as sleepless nights, with me thinking about going fishing the next day with my friends. But the mystery? Not so much. Kids live more in the moment and eagerly take what comes instead of pondering what might follow. That’s why it’s so important for adults to allow them to pursue distractions --- chase frogs, dig worms, skip rocks --- when the fish aren’t biting.

Excerpt from "Mystery and More" in Why We Fish--- Reel Wisdom From Real Fishermen.

Wednesday
Sep232015

Help Stop Attempts to Ban Recreational Fishing Off New England Coast

Anti-fishing groups are asking the Obama Administration to ban recreational fishing off portions of New England, significantly impacting the recreational marine community in the Northeast and setting a precedent for future closures across the country’s coastal areas.

Despite zero evidence to suggest recreational fishing poses a threat to the habitat or fish populations in these areas, these groups are lobbying the government to include a ban on recreational fishing if, and when, it designates a large section of the Northern Atlantic as a new Marine National Monument.

You better believe if these groups get their way, they won’t stop. And with more than a year left in the White House, the Administration could soon be adding similar bans across more and more offshore waters. 

We can’t let that happen. We can’t let anti-fishing groups dictate the government’s agenda. We need to respond.