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Why We Fish

Fish, Frogs, and Fireflies

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Monday
Aug112014

'The finest Gift . . . '

“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?” --- Lee Wulff

Why We Fish--- Reel Wisdom From Real Fishermen

“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

Friday
Aug082014

Stocking Could Lead to Future Trophy Fishery in Arizona

Arizona Game and Fish photo

Could Arizona’s Roosevelt Lake be another Lake of the Arbuckles in the making? Bass anglers hope so.

The latter is a southern Oklahoma reservoir that has been stocked periodically with Florida-strain bass for many years and now seems to be teeming with big fish. For example, six double-digit bass were brought in by a 14-boat tournament in March, with the winning limit of five weighing an impressive 42.71 pounds.

Over in Arizona, fisheries managers stocked nearly 500,000 Florida-strain fingerlings in Roosevelt during April. A recent explosion of gizzard shad provided impetus for the move, and bolsters even more the likelihood that the Salt River impoundment will yield hefty bass in a few years. A milder climate and longer growing season than in Oklahoma will help as well.

The 13,500-acre impoundment had not received an infusion of Florida largemouths since the 1980s. And, according to Arizona Game and Fish, surveys since 2011 revealed “an 80 percent reduction in largemouth bass catch rates.”

Fisheries chief Chris Cantrell added, “We hope that within the next 5 to 10 years anglers and enjoy higher numbers of trophy bass and memories that come out of Roosevelt Lake.”

In Oklahoma, meanwhile, the Department of Wildlife Conservation has been working aggressively to create trophy fisheries, introducing Florida bass into more than 40 impoundments. Thus far, 2,350-acre Arbuckles has provided the most impressive results, but it is not the only success story.

“Oklahoma is really right on the line where you can expect Florida bass to be successful,” said biologist Cliff Sager, pointing out that fisheries in the southern half of the state have shown the best potential.

“There’s a reason Cedar Lake (southeastern Oklahoma) has broken the state record twice.”

In March of 2012, Benny Williams Jr. caught a 14-pound, 12.3-ounce lunker in the 86-acre lake to break the 13-year-old state record. A year later, Dale Miller beat that with a Cedar Lake giant weighing 14 pounds, 13.7 ounces.

Also in 2013, Elite Series angler Jeff Reynolds and Johnny Thompson brought in a five-fish limit of 42 pounds at Arbuckles.

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

Wednesday
Aug062014

Don't Call It a Hobby

“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

Why We Fish--- Reel Wisdom from Real Fishermen

“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?” -- Lee Wulff

“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

Wednesday
Aug062014

Maryland Launches Campaign Against Invasive Catfish

Photo from Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has launched a statewide campaign to minimize the impact that invasive blue and flathead catfish are having on state fisheries.

“Increasing in population and range, both blue and flathead catfish now are abundant in the Chesapeake Bay, threatening the natural food chain of our ecosystem and causing concern among fisheries manager,” said DNR Deputy Secretary Frank Dawson.

The new outreach strategy will help anglers identify and catch these invasive species, and, resource officials hope, will encourage them to keep the fish instead of releasing them. As a part of the campaign, more than 150 education/cautionary signs will be placed at access areas and kiosks across the state. Additionally, the state will help promote Maryland’s fledgling commercial catfish fishery.

“Blue and flathead catfish are long-lived, voracious predators,” added Tom O’Connell, DNR fisheries chief. “They grow to enormous size, have many offspring, and dominate other fish populations wherever they take hold.

“We want everyone to aware of this significant problem and to know that it is illegal to transport these fish between bodies of water in Maryland.”

Both species were introduced by anglers into the Chesapeake Bay watershed during the 1970s and 1980s. Today, blues are in most of the bay’s major tributaries. Flatheads are in the Lower Susquehanna and the Occoquan Rivers and recently were identified in the non-tidal Potomac near Willamsport. The state record blue, weighing 84 pounds, came from the Tidal Potomac in 2012.

And they are present in huge numbers. Biologists conducting a survey for stripers in Mattawoman Creek found their nets clogged with catfish. A Port Tobacco commercial fisherman collected 300,000 pounds in one haul.

Also, stomach sampling reveals that the catfish will eat just about anything that they can swallow, including blue crabs.  “Looking in the guts of these fish, we find really astounding differences in the range of species they consume, suggesting that, if left unchecked, they could potentially start to impact our ecosystem,” said Peyton Robertson, director of the Chesapeake Bay office for the National Oceanic and  Atmospheric Administration.

Monday
Aug042014

Scientists Find More Mutated Intersex Fish in Nation's Waters

All scientists have to do is search new waters, it seems, and the mystery of mutated intersex fish grows more disturbing.

Most recently, they’ve found male smallmouth bass carrying eggs in Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna, Delaware, and Ohio river basins, according to a new report by the U.S. Geological Survey. Male fish at every site sampled had immature eggs in their testes, with the highest percentage in the Susquehanna. Previously in the Chesapeake Bay drainage, research revealed evidence of the effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the Potomac.

Vicki Blazer, lead author of the study, said that the pollutants affecting bass, as well as white suckers, “are most likely complex mixtures form both agriculture sources, such as animal wastes, pesticides and herbicides, and human sources from wastewater treatment plan effluent and other sewage discharges.”

"The prevalence and severity of the immature eggs in smallmouth bass corresponded with the percent of agricultural land use in the watershed above the collection sites," the scientist said. "Chemical compounds associated with estrogenic endocrine disruption, in particular estrone, a natural estrogen, were also associated with the extent and severity of these effects in bass."

Meanwhile, a toxicologist with the U.S. Environmental Protect Agency office in Denver reported that her research on fathead minnows is suggesting that “a very potent synthetic female hormone . . . can wipe out fish populations over several generations, and it’s the male fish that are most affected.”

Previously, Kristen Keteles added, studies had shown that male fish below wastewater treatment plants can lose masculine characteristics and become indistinguishable from females when exposed to estrogen and other endocrine disruptors.

“Our new study found that a potent form of female hormone estrogen used in prescription drugs not only causes the males to look female; it also appears to be toxic to male fish and these effects may impact future generations of fish.”

Fish A is a normal male fathead minnow. Fish C is a normal female. B is a male that was exposed to female hormones in prescription drugs and looks more like a female. Photo by Adam Schwindt

These disturbing discoveries regarding fish, which could portend similar problems for other species, began to emerge in the late 1970s, with anglers fishing wastewater lagoons in Great Britain, according to Whitney Jacobs, a former Conservation Associate at B.A.S.S. who researched the effects of environmental estrogens on male fish while doing graduate work in fisheries at the University of Georgia.

But the first reports of intersex was not documented in scientific literature until 1994 and the first major national assessment of the problem was not published until 2009,  she added.

“Widespread occurrence of intersex in black basses (Micropterus spp.) from U.S. rivers, 1995-2004” revealed intersex in 3 percent of fish collected and in 4 of 16 species--- largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, common carp, and channel catfish.

“However, it was most prevalent in largemouth and smallmouth bass,” Jacobs said. “The study also found the greatest incidence of the condition in the southeastern U.S.”

More recently, a 2014 report from scientists at the University of Georgia revealed these mutations aren’t confined to rivers. In “Survey of Intersex Largemouth Bass from Impoundments in Georgia USA,” they said that 48 percent of male largemouth bass collected from 11 reservoirs without direct municipal or agricultural wastewater inputs were intersex. Additionally, they found the condition in nine of the fisheries.

“The high incidence of intersex males in small impoundments demonstrates the condition is not confined to rivers and suggests that factors other than those previously associated with intersex (i.e., municipal wastewater) may be involved,” the researchers concluded.

Scientists hope that future research will reveal those additional factors. Meanwhile, they believe that fish that live downstream of wastewater treatment plants are most at risk, because of chemicals that can’t be filtered out of discharges.

“Humans excrete hormones and medications, which often end up in our rivers and streams from sewage,” said Keteles, adding that flushing medications also contributes to the problem.

“The water is treated, but many hormones and pharmaceuticals are not completely removed by wastewater treatment plants,” she said.

“My team is trying to determine what this means for fish, and ultimately for people, too.”

How to dispose of medicines properly

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