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.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday
Feb112015

Plastic Better Than Brush for Attracting Bass in Florida Study

FWC places plastic fish attractor in Lake Griffin as part of three-year study.

Aquatic vegetation is abundant in Florida waters, but it doesn’t provide the only cover for bass and other freshwater fish. In fact, more than 150 attractors have been placed in fisheries around the state by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

And now the FWC is trying to determine which types of attractors are the most effective. So far, plastic is winning.

“Preliminary results, from the first year of a three-year study indicate the plastic attractors typically are yielding more bass than brush structures,” said FWC’s Bob Wattendorf. “So, despite the additional material cost, they may be the wave of the future, especially if they prove as durable as hoped, because brush attractors need to be frequently refurbished.”

According to angler surveys, the four attractors with the highest catch rates were plastic. Additionally, fishermen took the most bass near plastic in four of six sample areas. Overall, anglers caught more fish around plastic than brush during 15 of the 22 weeks sampled.

Additional findings:

  • 78 percent of the 197 bass caught were taken on crankbaits.
  • 99 lures were lost in the attractors, but only 10 percent of those were in plastic.
  • Brush attractors with 50 trees had catch rates similar to those with 100, suggesting that more smaller ones might be preferred, at a cost and effort similar to what’s needed for fewer large ones.

 Electrofishing results, meanwhile, revealed that bass and black crappie abundance was similar at plastic and brush.

“Therefore, plastic and natural trees may concentrate similar numbers of bass, but the bass near plastic attractors may be more vulnerable to angling,” Wattendorf said.

Whether brush or plastic, attractors are marked with white or yellow buoys, and he cautioned that anglers should not anchor too near. “This is to prevent damage to the attractor by the anchor and to prevent brush or attractor panels from being dragged away from the main attractor site, reducing effectiveness.”

Both materials work by providing surfaces for algae growth. That draws in insects and other invertebrates, which supply forage for small fish. In turn, minnows and small sunfish attract larger bass and other predator species.

As FWC assesses the effectiveness of brush and plastic, it also continues to create gravel and shell attractors to provide spawning substrate for bass, bluegill, and crappie.

“These are especially effective at concentrating fish during spring in areas that otherwise have mostly muddy bottoms,” Wattendorf said.

(This article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)

Monday
Feb092015

Senate Tries Again to Enact Sportsman's Act

Legislation beneficial to anglers has been introduced in Congress by a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators

"The number one issue for sportsmen and women across the country is access. This widely supported, bipartisan bill will open more areas to hunting and fishing and grow America's thriving outdoor recreation economy,” said Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico.

"The bipartisan Sportsman's Act is not only an access bill, but also a way to promote economic growth in our country. Sportsmen and women across the country spend billions of dollars each year on outdoor activities,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.  

"This commonsense, bipartisan legislation supports conservation efforts while also improving access to recreational hunting and fishing on federal lands."

The Sportman’s Act of 2015 includes 14 provisions, several similar to those within the  Sportsmen's Act of 2014 from the 113th Congress. Importantly, the bill makes the existing exemption from EPA regulation for lead shot permanent, and adds lead tackle to the exempted products, leaving regulatory authority to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state fish and wildlife agencies.

Also, the bill requires federal land managers to consider how management plans affect opportunities to engage in hunting, fishing and recreational shooting; enables states to allocate a greater proportion of federal funding to create and maintain shooting ranges on federal and non-federal lands; and directs 1.5 percent of the Land and Water Conservation Fund to enhancing public recreational access for hunting, angling, and recreational shooting, otherwise known as Making Public Lands Public (MPLP).

“This bipartisan package contains many important provisions that are largely non-controversial and that will advance fisheries conservation and recreational fishing access for the benefit of the nation’s 60 million anglers,” said American Sportfishing President and CEO Mike Nussman. “Recreational fishing supports 828,000 jobs and contributes $115 billion to the economy annually. This monumental legislative package will greatly enhance recreational fishing’s social, economic and conservation benefits to the nation.”

Previous versions of the Sportsmen’s Act failed to pass the U.S. Senate in 2012 and 2014, primarily due to partisan disputes unrelated to the merits of the bill. With strong commitments from leadership on both sides of the aisle, ASA expressed optimism about the bill being enacted in the 114th Congress.

“Our community remains dedicated to the passage of the Sportsmen’s Act, and we are hopeful that the third time will be the charm,” said Nussman. “We want to give special thanks to Senators Murkowski and Heinrich and their staffs for swift bipartisan progress, and we look forward to working with them and the other original co-sponsors as this legislation goes through the committee process and ultimately to the floor of the U.S. Senate.”

Nussman added, “We believe the Sportsmen’s Act could be greatly strengthened by the addition of the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act. This bipartisan bill has strong support from the sportfishing community and it would bring tremendous value to the overall package by adding a much needed fisheries habitat component. ASA will actively support inclusion of this measure into the package during the coming legislative process.”

More information on Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015, as well as an action alert to contact Senators in support of the bill, can be found at Keep America Fishing

Friday
Feb062015

Just 99 cents! OMG!

That’s right, just 99 cents at Amazon for the Kindle version of Fish, Frogs, and Fireflies--- Growing Up With Nature. The offer is good through Feb. 9.

 

Now with 22 five-star reviews, FFF is a collection of essays about lessons learned from nature. Some will make you laugh. Others will tug at your heart strings. Many of them are nostalgic, and likely will prompt your own pleasant memories of time spent in the outdoors.

If you have a Kindle, don’t pass up this offer. If you don’t, buy one and make this your first book purchase!

Thursday
Feb052015

Bill Introduced to Protect Boat Owners From E15

 

Renewed effort is underway to protect boater owners from putting unsafe ethanol-based fuel in their boats.

“The new bill would recognize the failure of the current Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and its out-of-date ethanol-mandate, and make the necessary changes so there is a safe fuel for all gasoline-powered engines,” said Nicole Palya Wood, Government Affairs program manager for BoatUS.

Introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, with 30 co-sponsors, the Renewable Fuel Standard Reform Act would cap the ethanol requirements at E10 (10 percent ethanol), would prohibit the use of corn-based ethanol in the RFS, require more advanced biofuels, and take into account actual, real-world production of biofuels when setting requirements.

------

Go here to ask your representative to support the reform act

--------

When the RFS was written in 2005, politicians assumed that gasoline use would continue to rise and mandated escalating amounts of biofuels  be blended in. Since 2005, however, gasoline usage has actually dropped steadily. But under current law, E15 (15 percent ethanol) is being forced into the marketplace to maintain the mandate.

 E15, however, is a fuel that many gasoline engines cannot use. In fact, it can cause catastrophic damage, especially to outboard motors.

According to BoatUS, no marine engines in the US are warrantied to run on a gasoline blend greater than 10 percent ethanol. And AAA reports only about 12 million out of the more than 240 million light-duty vehicles on the roads today are approved to use E15 gasoline. Also, damage from use of higher ethanol fuels (E15 or greater) in cars and trucks will void many manufacturers' warranties.
 

Use of E15 in boat engines, snowmobiles, motorcycles, and small engines, as well as any vehicle made before 2001, is illegal, according to BoatUS.  But it now can be found at more than 100 gas stations in 16 states at the same pumps as E10 and ethanol-free gasoline.

“The potential for misfueling is significant,” the organization said. “In the US, nine out of every ten boaters own a trailerable boat that is most often filled up at a roadside gas station. Additionally, these higher blend ethanol fuels are often the cheapest fuels at the pump.”

According to Wood, BoatUS supports the bill because, "The RFS Reform Act acknowledges the reality of America's declining fuel consumption, allows for the investment in other more compatible biofuels, and erases the twisted math that forces more ethanol onto a marketplace that neither demands it, nor can physically absorb it at safe levels."

Wednesday
Feb042015

War on Bass Heats Up in Northwest

Washington state has joined the campaign to eliminate smallmouths like this from Northwest rivers.

For years, individuals and non-government groups in the Northwest have waged a war on bass, pushing for removal of limits and even bounties on the fish that have been established in some waters for more than a century. They blame predation by the warm-water species for the general decline of salmon and steelhead, even though evidence suggests that is true only in limited and isolated cases.

Many fisheries biologists, meanwhile, have been sympathetic to the cause, while state agencies mostly have treated bass and other nonnative warm-water species with benign neglect, instead of open hostility.

Until recently.

The cold-water war against bass has heated up, as Washington State has removed size and bag limits for bass and walleye in the Columbia and Snake Rivers and their tributaries above McNary Dam on the Washington/Oregon border. The big question now is what will happen on the lower 300 miles, which serve as a border between Washington and Oregon, as the former seems intent on pushing for removal of limits there as well.

Traditionally, the two have tried to manage with the same regulations on this river that is world famous for its hefty smallmouths.

“Previously, it was NGOs (non-government organizations) pushing for removal of limits. But now the mindset seems to have changed in Olympia (Washington state capital),” says a biologist, who wishes to remain anonymous.

“Now, I’m pretty sure that Washington will propose taking the rest of the regulations off.  If Washington does it, will Oregon go along?” he asks. “They (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife) said that they wouldn’t rubber stamp it, that they’d have to see the biological benefits of doing so. But I’m skeptical.”

Additionally, now that a state has joined the war, its advocates might enlist the aid of Indian tribes as surrogates to sue both states for removal of limits.

The feds already have sided with the anti-bass faction, and, in fact, pressured Washington state to conform. The state also was considering taking off the bag limit, but requiring that only three bass per angler could be more than 15 inches.

In response, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) said that option “would imply a desire by WDFW (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife) to maintain a healthy population of large, non-native predators.”

Yet the agency also admitted that quantifying the damage done to salmon and steelhead by bass “is difficult to quantify.” And it admitted, “The extent to which a regulation change will affect the harvest of these species and thereby reduce predation rates on at-risk salmon and steelhead populations is uncertain . . .”

Still, even if limits on bass are removed all the way to the mouth of the Columbia, anglers likely won’t see a big change in the population. That’s because most of the fishermen who target smallmouths release them.

So, even if smallmouth predation were having a significant impact on salmon and steelhead generally --- and it’s not --- removing limits would do little to remedy that.

“On the main stem of the Columbia, increasing spill (dam discharges) instead of storing water for hydropower, would be more helpful,” says the biologist. “It would make the Columbia more like a river again, fish wouldn’t bottle up, and water temperatures would lower, meaning predators wouldn’t feed as aggressively.

“But spill is money, while bass are low-hanging fruit that are easy to target.”

Social implications, however, could be significant, with relationships becoming even more strained between warm-water anglers and state wildlife agencies. When resource managers remove limits on a species, they are saying that it has no value. Yet thousand of anglers annually pay licenses and fees to fish for smallmouth bass. In return, they want a return on their investment.

And they have the right to expect that.

Additionally, their financial contributions benefit all fisheries, both warm-water and cold, as they enable the states to qualify for matching funds from the federal Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program.

Before removing size and bag limits on smallmouths, Northwest resource managers would be wise to remember that.

If they truly wanted to revive native species, they would insist on blowing out the dams that have impeded their migration and spawning, while creating hospitable habitat for bass and other warm-water species.

But those dams also provide hydropower and water for agriculture, benefitting millions of people. Consequently, they will stay too, while bass remain low-hanging fruit that are easy to target by private groups, and now, it seems, at least one state government.

(This column appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)