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Why We Fish

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Monday
May262014

Zebra Mussels Benefit Lakefront Property Owners

The damage done to fisheries and water supply infrastructures by zebra mussels has been documented for decades.

But now one researcher has discovered that these exotic shellfish are benefiting a few lucky waterfront property owners, even as they wreak havoc on ecosystems.

“We find that property values generally are higher on lakes with zebra mussels,” said Martin Meder, a University of Wisconsin economics student who decided to analyze state data for 400 lakes.

With the assistance of Marianne Johnson, a College of Business economics professor, he looked at property assessments for sale of houses on lakes known to be infested with zebra mussels.

Meder added that his research doesn’t address the causation, but “with statistical certainty, I can say that zebra mussels are associated with an approximately 10 percent increase in lakefront property prices.”

He theorized that the increased water clarity that comes with a zebra mussel infestation is one reason for the increase.

And, he added, “Some research has shown that they (zebra mussels) disadvantage some unpopular fish species. They blanket the bottom of the lake bed so carp can’t feed . . .

“They also seem to be advantageous to fish species that people like, like smallmouth bass.”

Friday
May232014

For the Rest of Us, There Is Fishing

“For the rich, there is therapy. For the rest of us, there is fishing.” Unknown

“The fish and I were both stunned and disbelieving to find ourselves connected by a line.” William Humphrey

“Something to think about: If you fish the wrong fly long and hard enough, it will sooner or later become the right fly.” John Gierach

Why We Fish --- Reel Wisdom From Real Fishermen

“There’s a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore like an idiot.” Steven Wright

“Fishing is not an escape from life, but often a deeper immersion into it.” Harry Middleton

 

Friday
May232014

Time to Introduce Someone to Fishing

With summer here, please make it your mission to introduce someone to fishing. If you haven’t done it before, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how enjoyable it is for you as well as your student, especially if he or she is a child.

Here’s a primer from Take Me Fishing on setting the hook. One of the things that I’ve discovered over the years is that beginners often do not know what you mean when you say “set the hook.” Their immediate impulse is to just start reeling line.

So take the time to tell beginners what you mean before you tell them to do it.

And don't take it too seriously if your students don't get it right immediately. Fishing is fun, remember?

“The angler forgets most of the fish he catches, but he does not forget the streams and lakes in which they are caught.” Charles K. Fox

He also remembers the person who first took him fishing.

Wednesday
May212014

More on Wisconsin's World-Class Smallmouth Fishery

Guide Dale Stroschein with two of the many quality smallmouth bass that we caught in a small bay on the Lake Michigan side of Door County. Photo by Robert Montgomery

The waters of eastern Wisconsin have been garnering lots of attention these days for their spectacular smallmouth bass fishing.

First, Bassmaster ranked the Sturgeon Bay portion of Lake Michigan’s Green Bay as its No. 1 fishery for 2014. It’s on the western side of the Door County peninsula, which separates Green Bay from the rest of the lake.

Reinforcing that designation this month, a smallie weighing 8.29 pounds was caught in Green Bay.

Additionally, angler Ben Royce caught and released what could have been a state record bass in an unnamed lake in the Milwaukee area. Record is 9.1, caught in 1950. Based on measurements, Royce’s fish could have weighed 9.6 pounds.

Now here’s the rest of the story: The eastern side of that peninsula isn’t bad either. In fact, seven years ago, I experienced my best day of bass fishing ever in the shallow waters of a little bay there. Guide Dale Stroschein and I were forced to the eastern side by unrelenting westerly winds that made fishing the western side difficult and dangerous.

Since I’ve been a B.A.S.S. Senior Writer for nearly 30 years and have fished for bass all over the United States, as well as in Mexico and Canada, that’s saying something.

In Why We Fish, I write about that day in an essay entitled, appropriately enough “The Best Day.”

Activist Angler with a Wisconsin smallmouth bass on "The Best Day."

Here’s an excerpt:

But they also hammered spinnerbaits and wallowed all over surface baits. They struck so hard on the former that they nearly pulled the rod from my hands a couple of times.

The setting --- calm, shallow water --- and the bite reminded me of fishing for cruising redfish in Louisiana or Florida.

The smaller ones were 3 pounds, and we weighed several that checked in at 5 ½ pounds or more. Doubles were common, and we often caught three, four, or even five fish on successive casts. We didn’t keep count, but we certainly caught more than 50 quality smallmouths in just three to four hours of fishing.

Even for my veteran guide, the bite was extraordinary. He took a break from the action to call a friend and tell him about it.

As the bite finally slowed a bit, Dale wrestled a smallmouth that clobbered a topwater while I battled another on a spinnerbait. When his fish neared the boat, I grabbed the net with one hand as I clung to my rod with the other.

Wednesday
May212014

Fishing Line Perilous for Pelicans, Herons, Other Wildlife

That’s a dead heron hanging in the tree, strangled to death by monofilament fishing line. I took the photo a few years ago.

I was reminded of it recently by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Here’s what agency has to say:

Fishing is an important part of the Florida lifestyle as well as its economy. In spite of the obvious benefits, this leisure-time activity, on occasion, can lead to problems for birds and other wildlife such as sea turtles and manatees. According to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) biologists, monofilament fishing line and fishing hooks can entangle these animals, leading to injury and even death.

The brown pelican is one species that is especially impacted by monofilament line. These birds frequently spend time looking for an easy meal at piers and other fishing hotspots, where they are often hooked accidently when trying to grab bait off an angler’s line.

Additionally, discarded monofilament line hanging from trees, piers and other structures can ensnare these birds. Once entangled, pelicans can have a difficult time flying and feeding.

“It is not uncommon to find dead pelicans entangled with fishing line and hooks,” said FWC biologist Ricardo Zambrano. “If they are not rescued, these birds may suffer for days before succumbing to injury or starvation.”

Here are some simple things people can do to help protect brown pelicans and other wildlife:

  • Properly dispose of monofilament line. Store unwanted line safely and securely until it can be placed in a recycling bin.
  • Don’t leave fishing line unattended, as pelicans may be tempted to steal the bait on the end of the line.
  • Avoid casting near trees, utility lines and other areas where line may get caught.
  • Check tackle frequently for frayed line that may easily break.
  • Do not feed pelicans or other wildlife, since it encourages them to approach fishing boats, piers and anglers. If available, use fish-scrap repositories. If they are not available, discard fish scraps in a garbage can or at home.

If you do accidentally hook a pelican, you should avoid cutting the line. Gently remove the hook if you feel confident you can do so without causing harm to yourself or the bird. If you cannot safely remove the hook and line from the pelican, contact a local wildlife rehabilitator.

For a list of wildlife rehabilitators in your area, contact any of the FWC’s five regional offices or visit MyFWC.com/Conservation and select “How You Can Conserve” then “Wildlife Assistance.”

For more information go to Monofilament Recovery & Recycling Program