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Tuesday
May122015

'Aquarium Adventure' Planned for Bass Pro Shops Headquarters

With an opening planned for spring of 2016, America’s Wildlife Museum and Aquarium will provide a wildlife conservation attraction on a grand scale, with a 1.3-million-gallon “aquarium adventure” as the anchor.

“Responsible hunters and anglers are often the unsung heroes in conservation, despite playing a significant role,” said Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops founder and creator of the 315,000-square-foot facility, which will replace his Wonders of Wildlife Museum & Aquarium in Springfield, Mo., where the Bass Pro Shops empire began.

“Our vision is to create a world-class experience that celebrates hunting, fishing, and conservation in Springfield, where half of the U.S. population lives within a day’s drive.”

Designed by architect Michael Olesak, the aquarium will feature more than 35,000 animals and take visitors on a tour of the world’s streams, lakes, and oceans via immersive environments and wildlife habitats.

Based on a sneak preview, The Springfield News-Leader says  that the aquairum complex features  a saltwater tank "filled with live ocean fish, designed to give visitors the feel of exploring a sunken ship. At the base of the cylindrical aquarium lay the foundation for a hands-on saltwater stingray tank that will let visitors touch and feed the ocean creatures (the barbs will be clipped off) when the facility reopens.

"Large saltwater aquariums in the walls of the gallery showcased a 220-pound goliath grouper, 3-foot long spotted moray eels, live spiny lobsters and brilliantly hued reef fish. Overhead, schools of mounted tuna, jacks and giant hammerhead sharks appear to swim among the rusty beams of the sunken ship.

"In another area, visitors will see a tall tank with ragged-toothed sand tiger sharks, black tip sharks, bonnet head sharks and other species cruising above their heads."

Additionally, the facility will be the new home of the International Fishing Hall of Fame, now at the International Game Fish Association’s (IGFA) museum in Dania Beach, Fla. Through interactive exhibits, personal artifacts and recreated replicas of world-record fish, it will highlight the accomplishments of the world’s best anglers.

"We're thrilled with the opportunity to join a much larger conservation vision that celebrates our sport and the wildlife we love," said IGFA President Rob Kramer. "Partnering with long-time friend and supporter Johnny Morris on this experience is a win-win for our organization and our mission of game fish conservation."

The museum also will include fishing and hunting Heritage Halls, Boone and Crockett Club’s National Collection of Heads and Horns, the John A. and Genny Morris Conservation Education Center, The Wonders of the Ozarks Learning Facility School, National Outdoor Recreation and Conservation School, and abundant banquet space.

"The Boone and Crockett Club is honored to contribute our historic collection to what will surely become the most elaborate conservation education attraction in the world," said Tony Schoonen, the club's chief of staff. "Johnny's Museum builds on our rich legacy of conservation to ensure future generations will join our efforts to protect wildlife."

Monday
May112015

Lawmakers Recognize Recreational Fishing Priorities, But Not Call to Transfer Red Snapper Management to States

A bill that addresses top priorities of the recreational fishing community has been approved by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources. Sponsored by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), H.R. 1335, also reauthorizes  the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA).

But lawmakers failed to include an amendment offered by Congressman Garret Graves (R-Louisiana) that would transfer management Gulf of Mexico red snapper to the five Gulf states failed to be included. Several committee members agreed, however, that Gulf red snapper management is broken and in need of significant changes.

“We hope that as MSA moves forward there will be additional opportunities to enact the Gulf states' plan,” said Patrick Murray, president of the Coastal Conservation Association. “MSA’s reauthorization surely has a long road ahead, but H.R. 1335 provides the recreational fishing community with a very solid first step.”

The priorities addressed originally were identified by the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management, also known as the Morris-Deal Commission in honor of co-chairs Johnny Morris, founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops, and Scott Deal, president of Maverick Boats.

Recommendations of the Morris-Deal Commission include the following:

  •  Establishing a national policy for recreational fishing
  • Adopting a revised approach to saltwater recreational fisheries management
  • Allocating marine fisheries for the greatest benefit to the nation
  • Creating reasonable latitude in stock rebuilding timelines
  • Codifying a process for cooperative management
  • Managing for the forage base

“The nation’s 11 million saltwater recreational anglers have a $70 billion economic impact annually and support 450,000 jobs,” said Mike Nussman, president and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association.

“However, federal marine fisheries management has never sufficiently acknowledged the importance of recreational fishing to the nation. H.R. 1335 would enact many of the necessary changes to elevate saltwater recreational fishing to the level it deserves.”

One of the recommendations of the Morris-Deal Commission was addressed by an amendment offered by Congressman Jeff Duncan (R-South Carolina) that would prompt a review of quota allocations in fisheries in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico with both a commercial and recreational component. Despite the tremendous importance that allocation decisions have in maximizing the benefits that our fisheries provide to the nation, federal fisheries managers have not revisited allocations – most of which were determined decades ago – primarily because of a lack of clear guidance on how decisions should be made and because these decisions are inherently difficult.

“Congressman Duncan's amendment is a significant achievement for ensuring that the benefits of our nation's fisheries are maximized,” said Jeff Crane, president of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. “For far too long, allocations have been rusted shut, and we applaud Congressman Duncan for his leadership on this critically important issue.”

Saturday
May092015

I'm field testing some great looking Snag Proof frogs. Sure wish that I had some grass in waters close to home. But as you can see, grass isn't always necessary! Here are some tips from Snag Proof on fishing its baits:

Fish the lures slowly… in most cases, the slower you fish them the better.

Twitch your rod tip frequently, even with lures such as the minnow with built-in action. This breaks up the retrieve and makes the lure behave erratically, often enticing fish strike.

Pause frequently on the retrieve. Let lure settle down, then begin retrieve again. This imitates a live animal cautiously moving through the water. Fish will often hit just at the moment you stop or start the retrieve.

If the fish misses the lure, cast right back to the spot where he struck, he’ll hit again. Same methods work along brushy shorelines and stump-filled inlets. Try it!

Cast lure on top of rocks, stumps, pads, brush or shoreline… let it fall into the water like a lizard, or small animal or bug.

Cast Past the Bass — casting directly to lone stumps, stick-ups or other structures can often startle resting bass lying near the surface. Cast your lure well beyond the structure, then use the pause/retrieve method to bring your lure right past the stick-up for better results.

When fish strikes… hold on! Lower your rod tip and wait 2 seconds, reel ‘til you feel the fish, then strike back! This gives the fish a chance to sort the lure out of the weeds, or moss that it may have grabbed along with the lure. The soft lure body completely fools the fish. They’ll run with it like live bait! Fish won’t spit it out like hard plugs.

Positive Hooking. The Double hook is exposed when the lure is hit from any angle. It won’t turn sideways or pull out like a single hook and weedguard. Keep your hooks sharpened and ready for action.

 

Thursday
May072015

No Surprise: Big Bass Are Lazy

 

While researching the genetic influence of introduced Florida bass on a small fishery in East Texas, scientists noted something unexpected and especially interesting for bass anglers.

Bass seem to grow bigger when they have a small home range and don’t move much.

“We had lots of variability within the bass population,” said Dr. Brian Graeb, a biologist at South Dakota State University and part of the research team for 125-acre Grand Lake at Eagles Nest Preserve east of here. “We began studying why. We started to look at habitat use and movement by putting radio telemetry into 40 bass and did an 18-month study on home ranges of movement.”

As he tracked the bass, Ph.D. student Jason Breeggeman discovered that some areas of the lake were heavily used, while others were not. He also noted a wide variance in how far bass swam.

“The smallest mover had a home range of about 50 yards, and this is what we would normally expect,” Graeb explained. “But we began to see bass the used the entire lake, routinely zipping over a mile to each end of the lake. In 24 hours, one bass swam 1.4 miles and we had one go more than 2 miles.

“These were very unexpected results.”

In trying to figure out why some stayed home and others didn’t, they scanned the bottom of the lake, seeing that much of the woody cover had disintegrated. With remaining habitat limited and occupied, some bass had no choice but to move to find food.

“We determined habitat was the most limiting factor in this lake,” Graeb said. “It was like we had a bunch of marathon runners and we wanted couch potatoes. The bass were skinny by having to swim so far.”

Researchers now have added artificial habitat from Mossback to form “fish cities” throughout the lake and will monitor the results.

“The goal is to try and decrease fish activity, decrease their home range and increase consumption,” the biologist said. “Our target is between 20- and 40-percent coverage of the lake. Currently, we have 22 fish cities and 13-percent habitat coverage with a plan to increase annually. We want to see if too much habitat begins to be too much of a good thing.”

The project began in 2011, with a goal of determining how best to grow a 15-pound bass by maximizing genetic potential and other variables.

“We came up with a strategy for trophy fish management based on age, habitat, nutrition and genetics,” Graeb said. “These are all barriers that must be overcome to grow big fish.”

After learning that genetics were favorable, scientists noted that bass diet consisted of nearly an equal amount of crawfish and forage fish. They also observed that the fish first put on weight quickly, but then leveled off as they aged. Eventually, they saw that some of the fish were fat, while others were skinny, which led to the discovery about movement.

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

Wednesday
May062015

Support Research About How to Properly Handle Bass

 We need to know more about how to properly handle bass, especially big bass. The following provides some compelling evidence.

On March 18, Texas Parks & Wildlife (TPW) posted this on its ShareLunker Facebook page:

“Three of this year’s five ShareLunkers have come in with broken jaws.Two have died. The other has been returned to the lake.The only explanation we have for the broken jaws is fish being held vertically by the lower jaw. 

“Broken jaws can kill fish in two ways. An infection can start at the break and invade other organs. Or, the fish may not be able to feed and will starve.”

TPW offers good advice on how to properly handle these trophy fish, but we need to know more about how to properly handle bass of all sizes and then we need to spread the word. If you doubt that, just consider the many photos you see of anglers improperly holding bass horizontally by the lower jaw. Even much smaller fish can be hurt this way.

Want to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem? Don’t hold bass horizontally unless you place one hand under the belly to support its weight. And donate to this important research in Florida.

The main objective is to test whether different handling techniques influence the jaw function of Florida largemouth bass. “We hypothesize that improper handling could influence feeding effectiveness and jaw mechanics, as well as fish survival.”

Your support is needed to fund a scholarship through the Fisheries Conservation Foundation for a graduate student to conduct the experiment in the research lab at the Florida Bass Conservation Center near Webster, Florida. “Your support also will go towards travel expenses to the hatchery for the student and outreach materials so we can communicate our results to the bass angling community.